Looking Back

This month in mid-atlantic thoroughbred history! For Looking Back archives click here.

The Maryland Horse Breeders Association toasted champions selected by a committee of Maryland racing writers for its 10th annual year-end awards. Northern Dancer’s daughter Alma North was named Horse of the Year as well as champion 3-year-old filly. The filly made 27 starts that year (17 in stakes) and won or placed 19 times. Among her dozen stakes wins and placings was a victory in Liberty Bell’s Cotillion. Her durability won her America’s “Iron Horse of the Year” citation – a selection made by four of the nation’s top racing secretaries.

Alma North was bred by J.I.B. Farms, a partnership between Dr. Robert A. Leonard and Stanley Bender, the latter son of original partner, the late Jack I. Bender. Eugene Mori bought the filly for $15,500 as a yearling in Saratoga and raced her under the name of East Acres.

From 3 to 5 Alma North made 67 starts and finished in the top three 45 times. A Grade 1 winner, she captured 15 stakes in her career, was second or third in 20 others, and earned $513,597. Her 78th and final race was a win in Liberty Bell’s Tuscarora Handicap in January 1974.

  • For the first time in 32 years, since *Challenger II in 1939, Maryland was the home to the nation’s leading stallion. Windfields Farm’s Northern Dancer took his place at the top of the list with $1.28 million in progeny earnings. The sire of 10 stakes winners in North America and one in France (Pennsylvania-bred Lyphard), he was by far the top sire in Maryland; his sire Nearctic ranked second in the state by earnings (just shy of $750,000) and stakes winners (nine).

  • Bolstered by 30 new stallions, Maryland’s 1972 stallion roster was the largest in the state’s history with 225 Thoroughbreds scheduled for stud duty. Heading the list was Northern Dancer. Among new arrivals was Native Dancer’s son Protanto, standing at Windfields; and T. V. Commercial, added to the roster at Woodstock Farm to stand alongside Nearctic.

  • Tommy Trotter’s year-end Experimental Handicap, ranking that year’s 2-year-olds, was led by Kentucky-bred Meadow Stable runner Riva Ridge at 126 pounds. The highest to represent the Mid-Atlantic region was Paul Mellon’s Virginia-bred Key to the Mint, tied as the third highweight at 121. The top Maryland-bred was state-bred champion Bee Bee Bee, at 112.

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