The turning point in E.P. Taylor’s quest to breed world-champion thoroughbreds came in 1952 at the Newmarket December Sales in England when he paid $35,000 (a huge sum for a mare at that time) for *Lady Angela, who was in foal to the great Italian-bred sire, Nearco.
In acquiring the daughter of Hyperion, Taylor insisted that she drop her foal in England and be bred back to Nearco before being shipped to his National Stud in Oshawa. The mating would produce an almost jet-black colt who was destined not only to become a champion, but also the sire of Northern Dancer, considered the greatest stallion of the 20th century.
Nearctic was a brilliant race horse, precocious enough to win the Saratoga Special at two, sound enough to race until he was five, and talented enough to win in the United States. He was meant to be a classic sort, but his intrinsic speed went generally unbridled and he was ultimately rated as a crack miler. Aggressive and tough to handle, it was Windfields Farm’s stud manager Harry Green and trainer Pete McCann, who exercised the volatile colt in daily workouts, who had the greatest influence on Nearctic’s rise to greatness. A quarter crack in his hoof plagued him throughout his career.
In 1956 he won seven races, four in stakes, and was named champion 2-year-old in Canada. At three he set track records for 1 1/16 miles and 6 1/2 furlongs. At four he matured into a confident champion, earning Horse of the Year honors. He won his first five races and capped a great season by setting a track record in the Michigan Mile at Detroit.
Nearctic stood at stud in Canada until 1967, when he was syndicated for $1,050,000, an unusally high figure for a 13-year-old horse. He died in 1973 at age 19 at Mrs. Richard C. duPont’s Woodstock Farm in Maryland, ending a dynasty of a horse who established Canada’s thoroughbred breeding industry throughout the world. “He was the horse who put us on the map,” said Hall of Fame trainer Lou Cavalaris Jr., when he learned of his death. “He outbred himself, which is the true sign of a great stallion. Northern Dancer was out of his first crop. Four of the best horses I ever trained were by Nearctic – Cool Reception, Mary of Scotland, Ice Water and James Bay.”
At the time of his death Nearctic had sired 43 stakes winners. His stakes winners included Cold Comfort, Bye and Near, Not Too Shy, North Sea, Icecapade, Briartic, Cool Moon, Explodent, Painted Pony and Arctic Dancer, dam of La Prevoyante. Nearctic’s daughters, superb on the racetrack, were also great producers.