While great thoroughbred racehorses can become great stallions, many didn't shine in the breeding shed. Seabiscuit didn't produce much in the way of memorable progeny, while Cigar suffered from fertility issues. The top American stallions left the strongest impression on future generations of racehorses, their bloodlines still found in the best of the breed.
Man o' War
Not only was Man o' War one of the immortals of horse racing, he later became a top sire. Retired to stud at the age of 4 after his brilliant career, he sired 64 stakes winners. His son, War Admiral, the famous rival of Seabiscuit in 1930s America, won the Triple Crown. He didn't just sire flat racing winners -- his son Battleship won the Grand National Steeplechase at Aintree, England.
Named Horse of the Year in 1957, Bold Ruler was the first stallion whose offspring won more than $2 million in one season. That accomplishment, in 1966, was followed by his sons and daughters winning at least $1 million annually until 1970. His most famous son was Secretariat, arguably the greatest racehorse of the postwar era. Secretariat didn't reproduce his quality directly, but turns out to have excelled as a broodmare sire.
Northern Dancer won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, but his highest claim to fame was his potency as a sire. The grandson of the top English stallion Nearco, Northern Dancer fathered 635 foals. Of that number, an astonishing 467 won races, and of those, 123 won stakes races, according to the New York Times.
Raise A Native
At his death in 1988, the New York Times called Raise A Native the "most influential sire of American thoroughbred stallions over the last 20 years." Although he ran only as a 2-year-old, undefeated in four races, his retirement to the breeding shed produced such colts as Alydar, Mr. Prospector and Majestic Prince, the first two also leading sires. Raise A Native's offspring included 74 stakes winners. He was the son of another top American stallion, Native Dancer.
At his peak, a breeding to Storm Cat set a mare owner back half a million dollars. This grandson of both Northern Dancer and Secretariat was the leading North American sire at the turn of the millennium. His best-known colts include Tabasco Cat and Giant's Causeway.
- ESPN: Man o' War Came Close to Perfection
- Thoroughbred Times: History of the Leading Sires in North America
- National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame: Bold Ruler
- New York Times: Raise A Native Destroyed
- Bloodhorse: Secretariat Foaled 40 Years Ago
- Kentucky.com: Storm Cat Legacy Better With Age
- New York Times: Northern Dancer, One of Racing's Great Sires, Is Dead
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.