Many people have an affinity for grey horses. Perhaps it is their recognizability in a field of bays and chestnuts. Maybe it's the appeal of watching their coat change colors over the years. Regardless, there have been many grey horses with so much talent on the racetrack that they became famous.
Here are just a few.
Native Dancer (1950-1967): Native Dancer was affectionately nicknamed “The Grey Ghost” and was made famous by his ability to stand out on black and white television sets. His talent helped too - he was voted Champion Two-Year-Old Colt in 1952, Champion Three-Year-Old Colt in 1953, and Champion Older Male in 1954. He was also voted Horse of the Year in 1954 despite only racing four times. Native Dancer’s sole career loss came in the 1953 Kentucky Derby, where he lost by a head to a horse named Dark Star. He rebounded to win the Preakness, Belmont, and Travers Stakes. Native Dancer would have a huge impact on the Thoroughbred breed as a whole, specifically through his grandson Northern Dancer.
Spectacular Bid (1976 - 2003):
Spectacular Bid is known for being voted a Champion each year he raced. He was very good as a two-year-old and widely celebrated during his three-year-old season that included victories in the 1979 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. Spectacular Bid lost just four times in his thirty-race career, though one of those defeats stung more than the rest; a combination of stepping on a safety pin and a poorly timed ride caused Spectacular Bid to lose the Belmont Stakes and subsequently fail to win the Triple Crown. Spectacular Bid was considered to be at his best as a four-year-old when he set five track records and was voted Horse of the Year. All in all, Spectacular Bid matched or broke eight records during his career.
Arrogate (2013 - present):
This big, grey horse became a household name after he upset the 2016 Travers Stakes in track record fashion. Before that, he had never run in a stakes race. He beat California Chrome that same year in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, prompting him to be voted Champion Three-Year-Old Colt. Arrogate was the leading money earner of all time after wins in the Pegasus World Cup (in which he set a track record at Gulfstream Park) and Dubai World Cup in 2017. His performance in the Dubai World Cup is considered by some people to be the greatest race they had ever seen; Arrogate broke slowly from the gate and made a huge, late-running move to win. Jockey Mike Smith compared it to riding Zenyatta. Arrogate currently stands stud at Juddmonte Farms.
Lady’s Secret (1982 - 2003):
Lady’s Secret was a beautiful but small daughter of Secretariat. It was said that she never looked like she was going to be a Champion, but she was anyways. Nicknamed “The Iron Lady”, Lady’s Secret won 25 of her 45 races. 22 of those victories were in stakes races. Lady’s Secret won eight Grade 1 races in 1986, including the Beldame Stakes, Ruffian Handicap, Maskette Stakes, Shuvee Handicap, Santa Margarita Invitational Handicap, La Canada Stakes, Whitney Stakes, and Breeders’ Cup Distaff. Her victory in the Whitney over the best males in the country made her the first filly to win the races since Gallorette in 1948. She was voted Champion Older Female and Horse of the Year in 1986.
Silver Charm (1994 - present): Silver Charm was yet another grey horse to almost win the Triple Crown. He won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in 1997 but lost the Belmont Stakes by just ¾ of a length. He was still voted Champion Three-Year-Old Male that year. Silver Charm won the 1998 Dubai World Cup and finished second in the prestigious Breeders’ Cup Classic that same year. He originally retired to Three Chimneys Farm before being relocated to Japan. He returned to the United States after being pensioned from his stud duties in 2014 and is now one of the most famous residents of the beloved retirement facility Old Friends.
This list of famous grey racehorses could go on and on. There are many horses who deserve to be mentioned, so stay tuned for part two!
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