11/04/2010 4:26PM

Sword Dance dead at 26


Sword Dance, the pensioned sire of the 1997 Arlington Million winner, Marlin, died in Florida earlier this week at age 26.

Standing at Marilyn and Gil Campbell's Stonehedge Farm South, Sword Dance, a Nijinsky II horse, had been a top Florida sire before his retirement after the 2004 breeding season. The farm attributed his death Monday to natural causes.

"Sword Dance was the first big stallion we purchased, and he brought Stonehedge and Mr. and Mrs. Campbell a lot of success," farm manager Larry King said, crediting the sire's consistency with helping to make him a leader in the Sunshine State breeding industry.

Sword Dance was a winner twice in his native Ireland before shipping to the States in 1988. He won his best race that year in his career finale, defeating eventual Breeders' Cup Turf winner Great Communicator in the Grade 2 Del Mar Handicap. At stud, he got Marlin, a four-time Grade 1 winner and course record-setter, and graded winners Blazing Sword, Friel's for Real, Ryan's for Real, and Dance for Thee, among other stakes winners. His progeny earnings stand at more than $26.4 million to date. Sword Dance also made his mark as a broodmare sire through such as graded performers as Dawn After Dawn, Red Jazz, and Halo Najib.

"Sword Dance was the farm favorite," said King. "He just did everything right while he was with us, was a great breeder and an easy horse to care for. He's made significant impact as a broodmare sire, and his legacy lives on through his daughters."

Sword Dance will be buried at Stonehedge.