The Galloping Ghost
He was the first American equine idol. In the age when flickering black and white ten-inch television pictures were all the rage, Native Dancer stood alongside Milton Berle, Ed Sullivan and Arthur Godfrey as a television luminary in the mid 1950s.
EpilogueReturning to Sagamore Farm, The Dancer became a mighty sire. His sons Kaui King (1966) and Dancer's Image won the Kentucky Derby, while his daughter Natalma was the dam of the legendary Northern Dancer. Thanks to his paternal grandson Mr. Prospector and Northern Dancer, his maternal grandson, Native Dancer's name will be forever etched in the annals of racing. Television's first equine super-hero died following intestinal surgery at the young age of 17, and was buried in Sagamore's cemetery under a stand of sugar maple trees. The president of both Belmont Park and Pimlico, Vanderbilt's legacy included orchestrating the fabled match race between Seabiscuit and War Admiral in 1938. He captained a PT boat in the South Pacific during WW II and was awarded the Silver Star. A racing fan his entire life, Vanderbilt spent August in Saratoga. He died at age 87, at his Brookville, N. Y. home after watching morning workouts at the track. Vanderbilt sold Sagamore to a local developer James Ward in 1986, but over the next two decades it fell on hard times, and became best known for its sagging fences and the weedy, rock-strewn training track. In 2007 Maryland native Kevin Plank, founder and CEO of Under Armour sports apparel, purchased it and carefully crafted a plan to resurrect the 530-acre farm in Glyndon, Md. It was the fall of 2007 when the filly Shared Account stepped off a van onto Sagamore Farms, among the first group of yearlings bought by Plank. On November 5, 2010, Shared Account snatched the $2 million Breeders Cup Filly and Mare Turf race, defeating Midday, one of the best mares in the Europe. Terry Conway has been a regular contributor to The Blood-Horse magazine since 2003. He wrote a Sunday column on racing for several years for the Chester County (Pa.) daily newspaper and covers racing and the horse world for a number of regional magazines in the mid-Atlantic area. In addition, he has written many historical articles on the art world and business entrepreneurs for a variety of national and regional magazines. Contact Terry at firstname.lastname@example.org
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