5 Fast Facts about arguably the most successful Kentucky Derby winners at stud

A Kentucky Derby victory is at the top of the wish list for nearly every stallion prospect in the United States. Many Derby winners, however, do not succeed as sires, and only a few become outstanding. Below is a list of arguably the five most successful Derby winners at stud.

5) War Admiral (1937): This was a close call between him and fellow Triple Crown winner Count Fleet. Both became leading sire for one season, but War Admiral’s legacy has lived on longer through his daughters. He sired the champion racemare Busher, became a dual leading broodmare sire, and left a long-term mark on the breed through his daughters Busher, Busanda, Searching, and Striking – all out of daughters of La Troienne. He appears eight times in the pedigree of American Pharoah.

4) Ben Brush (1896): The winner of the first Derby at 1 ¼ miles – and the first to be draped with roses afterwards – Ben Brush became a great stallion, winning the leading sire title in 1909. Two of his sons also headed the sire list: Broomstick (1913-1915), and Sweep (1918, 1925). Broomstick was the sire of the influential stallion Whisk Broom, and Sweep’s son The Porter was leading sire in 1937. Ben Brush’s name continues to be seen in modern pedigrees through horses like War Admiral and Native Dancer.

3) Seattle Slew (1977): A $17,500 yearling, Seattle Slew became worth a lot more after winning the 1977 Triple Crown. Retired to stand first at Spendthrift Farm and then at Three Chimneys, Seattle Slew was leading sire in 1984, the year his son Swale won the Kentucky Derby. He sired more than 110 stakes winners and was leading broodmare sire in 1995 and 1996, largely through the exploits of Cigar. Just as important is his ongoing legacy, especially through his son A.P. Indy.

2) Sunday Silence (1989): Unwanted by stud masters in the United States despite his Horse of the Year-winning efforts, the son of Halo was sold to Zenya Yoshida of Shadai Farm and promptly became the most important stallion in Japanese history, playing a major part in turning Japan into a Thoroughbred power. Leading sire for 13 consecutive years, he’s also been spectacular as a broodmare sire. His list of top sire sons is too long to mention, though one – Deep Impact – is beginning to match his own prowess.

1) Northern Dancer (1964): Revered in his native Canada after winning two legs of the Triple Crown, Northern Dancer was a worldwide sensation as a stallion, becoming the most important sire in the second half of the 20th century. A remarkable 22.8 percent (147) of his 645 foals were stakes winners, and he was especially popular in Europe, where his progeny excelled on turf. Seven of his sons also sired more than 100 stakes winners, including legends such as Sadler’s Wells, Danzig, and Nijinsky. Many of the world’s top sires descend in the tail-male line to him today.

Read more on historical horses in the growing library of horse profiles on TwinSpires.

(Ben Brush image courtesy of the Racing Museum and Hall of Fame)