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Native Dancer's Male Line Descendants in the Preakness Stakes

1953 Preakness Stakes winner Native Dancer
Native Dancer at stud

Few pedigrees in the modern-day Thoroughbred omit the name “Native Dancer”. This sensation of the 1950s was dominant on the track, winning 21 of his 22 races, and further solidified his legacy at stud, siring 44 stakes winners and serving as the damsire of 84 more.

Among Native Dancer’s 21 victories is the 1953 Preakness Stakes. While he suffered a rare defeat in the Kentucky Derby, losing by a head to Dark Star, he proved he was the better horse by clinching a win in the Withers Stakes before easily defeating Dark Star in the Preakness Stakes.

As Avalyn Hunter of American Classic Pedigree aptly notes, Native Dancer is “now all but universal in North American pedigrees”. Yet while he is now an ancestor of most horses, only some of them descend from his male line. To spotlight his enduring influence and celebrate the second jewel of the Triple Crown, we look back at the twenty-five Preakness Stakes winners who descended from Native Dancer’s male line.

Kauai King - 1966: 

Kauai King, out of the Blenheim mare Sweep In, won both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in 1966 and was fourth in the Belmont Stakes. His Preakness victory accomplished the feat of having three successive generations win the race: Polynesian in 1945, Native Dancer in 1953, and then Kauai King in 1966. 

Majestic Prince - 1969: 

Sired by Native Dancer’s son Raise A Native out of the Royal Charger mare Gay Hostess, Majestic Prince was dominant on the West Coast, having never lost a race by the First Saturday in May. His winning streak extended through the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes of 1969, ending only with his narrow defeat in the Belmont Stakes.

Little Current - 1974:

Little Current, sired by Sea Bird out of the My Babu mare Luiana, was 5th in the Kentucky Derby but rebounded to win both the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes by seven lengths. 

Affirmed - 1978: 

Affirmed, America’s 11th Triple Crown winner, was sired by Exclusive Native out of the Crafty Admiral mare Won’t Tell You. His ever-narrowing victories over Alydar in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes are some of the most memorable editions of these races.

Tank’s Prospect - 1985:

Tank’s Prospect, sired by Mr. Prospector out of the Pretense mare Midnight Pumpkin, was unplaced in the Kentucky Derby but rebounded to win the ‘85 Preakness Stakes. His winning time of 1:53.4 was the stakes record at that time until a review of Secretariat’s win in ‘73 determined that the Triple Crown winner was the official record holder. 

Alysheba - 1987: 

Sired by Alydar out of the LT. Stevens mare Bel Sheba, Alysheba won the Kentucky Derby off of just a maiden win - though he had placed second or third in numerous Grade 1 races - and then captured the Preakness Stakes. The Derby and Preakness runner-up Bet Twice got the best of him in the Belmont Stakes, but Alysheba went on to have a Hall of Fame career. 

Hansel - 1991: 

Hansel, a son of Woodman out of the Dancing Count mare Count on Bonnie, was the betting favorite in the ‘91 Kentucky Derby but ultimately finished 10th. His connections initially planned to skip the Preakness Stakes, but a good workout encouraged them to ship Hansel to Pimlico and he won the ‘91 Preakness by seven lengths. He also captured the Belmont Stakes by a head over Strike the Gold. 

Timber Country - 1995:

Bred similarly to Hansel, another son of Woodman, and Tank’s Prospect, who was out of a Pretense mare, Timber Country was third as the betting favorite in the Kentucky Derby but recovered to win the ‘95 Preakness Stakes by half a length. His win in the Preakness made him the first Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner to capture a Triple Crown race.

Real Quiet - 1998: 

Known for his agonizingly close Triple Crown defeat, this son of Quiet American traveled to Pimlico after his victory in the Kentucky Derby to cross the wire in front in the ‘98 Preakness Stakes. His Triple Crown dreams were ruined by just a nose in the Belmont Stakes three weeks later. 

Red Bullet - 2000: 

Red Bullet’s win in the ‘00 Preakness Stakes was the best moment of his career. This son of Unbridled out of the Caro mare Cargo had skipped the Kentucky Derby after his runner-up performance in the Wood Memorial (G1), instead saving his energy for a powerful victory at Pimlico. 

Point Given - 2001: 

The “Big Red Train” Point Given disappointed with his 5th place finish in the Kentucky Derby but recovered to win the ‘01 Preakness Stakes by 2 ½ and the Belmont Stakes by an astonishing 12 ¼ lengths. The Thunder Gulch colt won his next two starts for a total career record of 9 wins from 13 starts. 

War Emblem - 2002: 

Like Real Quiet, War Emblem had the chance to become a Triple Crown winner. The son of Our Emblem out of the Lord At War mare Sweetest Lady upset the Kentucky Derby at odds of about 21-1. Two weeks later, he held off a charge by Magic Weisener to win the Preakness Stakes (G1). War Emblem was not so lucky in the Belmont Stakes; a terrible start left him with too little energy at the top of the stretch and he faded to eighth. His loss was the first in a string of three consecutive Triple Crown near misses all descending from Native Dancer’s male line.

Funny Cide - 2003: 

The Triple Crown was on the line again just one year after War Emblem faltered in the final jewel. Funny Cide, a gelding by Distorted Humor out of the Slewacide mare Belle’s Good Cide, won the Kentucky Derby by 1 ½ lengths. He was much better in the Preakness Stakes, capturing the race by 9 ¾ lengths - one of the largest winning margins in the race’s history. He was valiant in the Belmont Stakes but could do no better than third. 

Smarty Jones - 2004: 

Smarty Jones was the third horse in the string of Triple Crown near misses. This son of Elusive Quality out of I’ll Get Along (Smile) was undefeated when he entered the starting gates for the Kentucky Derby and wasn’t ready to face defeat yet. He won the “run for the roses” by 2 ¾ lengths and then traveled to Baltimore to win the Preakness Stakes by a whopping 11 ½ lengths. He still holds the record for the biggest winning margin in this race. Smarty Jones faced the only defeat in his career when Birdstone ran him down in the Belmont Stakes.

Afleet Alex - 2005: 

Afleet Alex has one of the most memorable Preakness Stakes victories of all time. This son of Northern Afleet out of the Hawkster mare Maggy Hawk finished third as the second betting choice in the Kentucky Derby but still traveled to Baltimore to seek redemption in the Preakness Stakes. The colt clipped heels with Scrappy T as they came to the top of the stretch and he stumbled so badly that his nose was an inch from the dirt and his jockey Jeremy Rose was thrown onto his neck. In a display of supreme athleticism, Afleet Alex picked himself up and pulled away to win the race by 4 ¾ lengths. He went on to win the Belmont Stakes by 7 lengths. 

Curlin - 2007:

Unraced at two, this son of Smart Strike out of Sherriff’s Deputy (Deputy Minister) won each of his three starts leading up to the Kentucky Derby. He finished third as the betting favorite on the first Saturday in May, but he got his revenge on Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense in the Preakness Stakes. He was second by a head to the filly Rags to Riches in the Belmont Stakes. 

Lookin At Lucky - 2010: 

Lookin At Lucky, sired by Smart Strike out of the Belong To Me mare Private Feeling, was very promising leading up to the Kentucky Derby. Lookin At Lucky was installed as the favorite, but traffic trouble kept him out of the winner’s circle at Churchill Downs. He rebounded with a win in the Preakness Stakes two weeks later. 

I’ll Have Another - 2012: 

Sent off at odds of 15-1 in the Kentucky Derby, this son of Flower Alley out of Arch’s Gal Edith (Arch) won the run for the roses by 1 ½ lengths. He was victorious again in the Preakness Stakes, running down the Kentucky Derby runner-up Bodemeister to cross the wire a neck in front. I’ll Have Another did not have the opportunity to compete for Triple Crown glory in the Belmont Stakes; he was scratched out of the race with a tendon injury and was retired from racing. 

American Pharoah - 2015: 

After a long streak of near-misses, the Native Dancer male line got its second Triple Crown winner with American Pharoah. Sired by Pioneerof the Nile out of Littleprincessemma (Yankee Gentleman), American Pharoah won the Kentucky Derby by 1 length, the Preakness Stakes by 7 lengths, and the Belmont Stakes by 5 ½ lengths.

Exaggerator - 2016: 

Sired by fellow Preakness Stakes winner Curlin out of the Vindication mare Dawn Raid, Exaggerator finished second behind Nyquist in the Kentucky Derby but bested the Derby winner in the Preakness Stakes by 3 ½ lengths. Exaggerator competed in the Belmont Stakes but finished unplaced. 

Cloud Computing - 2017: 

Cloud Computing was the third consecutive Preakness Stakes winner in the 2010s for the Native Dancer male line. Sired by Maclean’s Music out of the A.P. Indy mare Quick Temper, Cloud Computing’s connections opted to skip the Kentucky Derby and wait for the Preakness Stakes. Their patience paid off, as he ran down Classic Empire to win the race by a head. 

Rombauer - 2021: 

Like Cloud Computing, Rombauer’s connections opted to skip the Kentucky Derby and instead wait for the Preakness Stakes - a race that they felt would be more conducive to his running style. They were rewarded for this decision when Rombauer won the race by 3 ½ lengths at odds of 12-1. The son of Twirling Candy also competed in the Belmont Stakes, finishing third behind Essential Quality and Hot Rod Charlie. 

Early Voting - 2022: 

Early Voting’s connections felt he did not have enough racing experience to be competitive in the Kentucky Derby. They instead took the son of Gun Runner out of the Tiznow mare Amour d’Ete to Baltimore for the Preakness Stakes and he held off a run by Epicenter to win by 1 ¼ lengths. 

National Treasure - 2023: 

This son of Quality Road of the Medaglia d’Oro mare Treasure was not permitted to compete in the Kentucky Derby due to his trainer Bob Baffert’s ban from the race. He went to the Preakness Stakes instead, where he battled down the stretch with Blazing Sevens to win the race by a head. He also ran in the Belmont Stakes but finished off the board. 

Seize The Grey - 2024:

Seize The Grey is sired by Arrogate out of the Smart Strike mare Smart Shopping. This D. Wayne Lukas trainee skipped the Kentucky Derby, instead opting to race in the Pat Day Mile (G2) on the Kentucky Derby undercard. He was virtually ignored by horseplayers when he stretched back out in distance two weeks later for the Preakness Stakes. Seize The Grey was sent out of the starting gate as the third longest shot in the race but carried all 2,570 of his My Racehorse owners to a gate-to-wire victory.


Learn more about the Triple Crown in our Horse Racing Resource


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