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Nashua better runner than sire
Aqueduct presents the 29th running of the Nashua Stakes on Tuesday, a race that honors the 1955 Horse of the Year and the second Thoroughbred in history to earn more than $1 million on the racetrack.
Nashua also made headlines 50 years ago when he became the first horse to sell for more than $1 million. A syndicate headed by Leslie Combs II of Spendthrift Farm paid the estate of William Woodward Jr. $1.25 million for the Nasrullah colt.
At stud, Nashua sired an impressive 77 stakes winners from 636 foals, but few were important horses.
While it took more than half the 20th century for a stallion to fetch $1 million, just a quarter century later Spectacular Bid was syndicated for a then-record $22 million - a price that was never justified by his offspring.
Few of racing's great champions of the 20th century were ever able to reproduce themselves. Bold Ruler (sire of Secretariat) and Tom Fool (sire of Buckpasser) did. Man o' War came close, although no one would likely rate his son War Admiral as good as Big Red himself.
Test your knowledge of the record of some of racing's greats at stud.
1. Neither Nashua, who was syndicated for $1.25 million in 1955, nor Spectacular Bid, who was syndicated 25 years later for $22 million, sired a national champion colt in this country.
In fact, Spectacular Bid has yet to sire a champion of either sex. (The Bid died last year and still has offspring to race.)
Nashua did sire one champion female - one of the great long-distance racemares in the history of the sport.
2. The careers on the track and at stud of two of the great Thoroughbreds of all time closely parallel each other.
Both were Horse of the Year. Both had remarkable careers in which their signature race was setting a long-standing world record for one mile on dirt.
And the stud careers of both colts were promising, but cut short by their premature deaths. Both horses were leading sires of the year one time - posthumously.
3. Cigar, North America's current leading money winner and two-time Horse of the Year, retired to a stud career at the end of 1996, but failed to impregnate any broodmares.
Extensive studies determined that Cigar was sterile. He is now pensioned at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Ky.
Almost a half-century earlier, another colt who was Horse of the Year and held the title of North America's leading money winner retired to a career at stud. He too proved sterile.
4. When Citation retired in 1951, there was much debate in racing circles on whether he or Man o' War was the "Horse of the Century." In the breeding shed, there was no question.
After his first few crops, it appeared as if Citation was on his way to being a great sire. His first crop included a classic winner and a winner of the Acorn Stakes. In his fourth crop, he produced a champion female who would later be inducted into racing's Hall of Fame. But it was downhill after that.
Name the only classic winner and the only champion sired by Citation.
5. The 2003 Academy Award-nominated motion picture "Seabiscuit: An American Legend," left many viewers with the impression that Seabiscuit, a grandson of Man o' War, was a better horse than War Admiral, a son of Man o' War.
Despite the lopsided outcome of the only encounter between the two champions at Pimlico on Nov. 1, 1938, most historians would likely agree that Seabiscuit was not quite in War Admiral's league.
Which of the two horses proved better at stud?
HISTORY CHALLENGE ANSWERS
1. It took her a while to figure out what the game was all about, but in her seventh start, Shuvee, the only champion sired by the great Nashua, finally won her maiden.
During four seasons on the track from 1968-1971, Shuvee often looked more like a stallion. At age 5, she weighed 1,100 pounds and stood 16-1 hands.
She is best remembered for winning back-to-back runnings of the Jockey Club Gold Cup in 1970 and 1971, when it was run at the grueling distance of two miles.
Not only did she duplicate the feat of her sire, who won the Gold Cup in 1955 and 1956, but she is the only female to win the race.
Shuvee also became the second filly to capture the three races then known as the New York triple crown for fillies - the Acorn, Mother Goose, and Coaching Club American Oaks.
While Shuvee is the only champion sired by Nashua, another daughter of the 1955 Horse of the Year had a greater impact on the sport.
Gold Digger, a 1962 daughter of Nashua, was the dam of Mr. Prospector, one of the century's premier sires.
2. The promising breeding careers of Equipoise (Horse of the Year in 1932 and 1933) and Dr. Fager (Horse of the Year in 1968) were cut short by death.
Equipoise died in 1938 at 10. He sired nine stakes winners from four crops, including Kentucky Derby winner Shut Out. Equipoise was the leading sire of 1942.
Dr. Fager died in 1976 at 12. He sired 35 stakes winners (13 percent of his foals), including champions Dearly Precious and Dr. Patches, and Canadian Horse of the Year L'Alezane. Dr. Fager was the leading sire of 1977.
3. Assault, Triple Crown winner and Horse of the Year in 1946, was the world's leading money earner for brief periods twice in 1947. That was the year that he, Armed, and Stymie took turns breaking the record.
Assault retired to stud in 1948, but came back to race in 1949 and 1950 after he was found to be sterile. He was then pensioned at his birthplace at King Ranch in Texas.
In a strange twist, Assault was allowed to roam in the field with a band of young Quarter Horse mares. He got four of them in foal. There appeared no question that he was the father, but the reason could never be explained by medical science.
4. Bull Lea, Calumet Farm's foundation sire, fathered a record seven sons and daughters who are today members of racing's Hall of Fame.
But as a sire of sires, Bull Lea was a flop. His greatest son, Citation, started out okay, but in the end, after 14 seasons at stud, Big Cy produced an anemic 12 stakes winners.
From his first crop, however, Citation did sire Fabius, winner of the 1956 Preakness Stakes. From his fourth crop came future Hall of Famer Silver Spoon, winner of the 1959 Santa Anita Derby and champion 3-year-old filly in one national poll.
5. At stud, Seabiscuit was kept on the California ranch of his owner, Charles S. Howard, and bred mostly to mediocre homebred broodmares. From 108 registered foals, Seabiscuit produced only four minor stakes winners.
As a stallion, War Admiral was superb. He produced 40 stakes winners (11 percent of his foals), including the filly Busher, Horse of the Year as a 3-year-old in 1945, and arguably the greatest female Thoroughbred of the 20th century.
War Admiral was leading sire in 1945; leading juvenile sire of 1948; and leading broodmare sire in 1962 and 1964.
His daughters included Busanda (dam of Buckpasser) and Iron Maiden (dam of Iron Liege).