03/24/2011 2:44AM

North of Eden (1983 – 2011) - The Pride of Bridlewood Farm

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“North of Eden was and will always be the pride of Bridlewood Farm,” said George G. Isaacs, general manager at Bridlewood, in a statement Tuesday (3/22/11) about her death. “To be blessed and associated with such a magnificent blue-hen mare is every serious horse breeder's dream come true.”

She was one of this country’s greatest producers of modern times, and I write the word “greatest” with certainty. Three of her foals were Grade I winners – champion Paradise Creek ($3,401,415), Wild Event ($937,274) and Forbidden Apple ($1,680,640). A fourth foal, I’m Very Irish, was a stakes winner as well. 

Above:  Paradise Creek (left) wins the 1994 Manhattan Handicap, Wild Event (center) takes the 1999 Early Times Turf Classic, and Forbidden Apple (right) stands tall at Arlington, 2002

Above:  Paradise River (1994 - 2010, at left), a daughter of North of Eden and dam of champion David Junior (right)

And North of Eden’s daughter Paradise River is the dam of the unusually handsome European champion, and multiple G1 winner, David Junior ($4.1 million).

In February 2006, I spent an afternoon in North of Eden’s company on a warm, breezy day at Bridlewood Farm in Ocala, Florida.   I wanted to include her in the book More Old Friends. Then very pregnant, the 23-year-old mare shared a paddock with another Grade I producer, Jolie Jolie (dam of Jolie’s Halo). 

North of Eden watched me from afar for a while, and then she slowly meandered over to say hello. After spending a few minutes nearby she wandered away again. The breezes shifted her tail, a tail so long that it swept the grass, and every so often she raised her head to gaze off into the distance. To look at her, it was obvious she was confident and comfortable, with intelligent eyes, a strong head, an unusually long body and a relaxed manner.  And she obviously had a lovely pedigree, as she was a half-sister to Theatrical.  But just what made her what she was?

“She doesn’t have a mean bone in her body,” Isaacs said in 2007. “She lets you come into her stall and be around her and her foal all you want. She just loves being a mom.

“She is what I’d describe as a perfect conduit mare. She will absolutely pass on all of the characteristics of the stallion that you bred her to, but throw in all of the perfect nurturing parts of the equation that you would want from the mother.

“She always throws a level-headed, easy going foal, but they all have the heart of a champion.”

Above:  North of Eden at Bridlewood Farm in February 2006, including with Grade I producer Jolie Jolie (dark bay)