Mention Canada’s E. P. Taylor and the conversation immediately turns to Northern Dancer. However, much of Northern Dancer’s success would not have been possible without the good mares who visited his court each year and few contributed more to his legend than Solar Display’s granddaughter South Ocean.
Like most major breeders, E. P. Taylor started small, with a few Canadian breds, then began to cast his nets abroad, buying among others Lady Angela, dam of Nearctic. He later increased his broodmare band by buying well-bred fillies and it was in this manner that Natalma, dam of Northern Dancer, was acquired.
Solar Display’s story starts in 1952 when E. P. Taylor purchased her for $8,500 at Saratoga from breeders John A. Bell Jr. and Robert Sterling Clark. She was a half sister to the marvelous Battlefield, a son of War Relic who had been a champion at two in 1950.
Battlefield raced through the age of five and continued to win some of the country’s best races including the Travers, Withers and Dwyer and he also ran second in the Belmont and Metropolitan Mile. Battlefield’s blood is still available via horses with lines of Arts And Letters, Overskate, Nasty And Bold and many others and is a viable inbreeding tool to use with this family.
Solar Display never raced, but she will no more be forgotten than Battlefield, for in addition to her main branch of Shining Sun/South Ocean, she also produced several other good daughter branches that are worth mentioning including Solometeor’s descendents, which include such horses as Polemic, Bucksplasher, Nuclear Pulse and Tralos and Solar Park’s branch which includes Super Move and Lordhyexecutioner.
It is South Ocean, however, that makes the family “sing”. Her sire, New Providence, was the second most famous offspring of Bull Page, the honor of most famous belonging to Flaming Page, dam of Nijinsky II. New Providence was a Canadian Triple Crown winner and his female family eventually went on to produce the good runner Beau Genius. His dam, Fair Colleen, won England’s One Thousand Guineas Trial Stakes and she also produced Canadian Oaks winner Maid O’ North.
South Ocean’s dam, Shining Sun, was sired by Chop Chop, an American stallion leased by Taylor who also sired Canadian Horse of the Year Canadiana and Queen’s Plate winner Victoria Park. Chop Chop was by Flares, a full brother to 1935 Triple Crown winner Omaha.
Whether it was planned or not, by the time South Ocean came along, there were three distinct lines of Teddy in her pedigree – two via the full brothers *Bull Dog and *Sir Gallahad III, who appeared 4 x 5 in her lineage, plus a line of Sun Teddy. It was this buildup of Teddy blood that her main mate, Northern Dancer, would find so appealing.
South Ocean was the lone stakes winner produced by Shining Sun, though she was a good one, winning the Canadian Oaks. But it is as a broodmare that she will always be remembered.
If South Ocean had gotten only Storm Bird, she would be beloved, but he is just one of her major runners. Her daughter Northernette, a champion at two and three in her homeland and a Grade I winner in the U. S., also produced four stakes winners including near-champion Gold Crest.
Another stakes winning daughter, Ocean’s Answer, is dam of the fine producer Soundings, the dam of four stakes winners including French classic winner Green Tune. Plus South Sea Dancer and Stormette are both stakes placed stakes producers with good, young branches.
Storm Bird, of course, made news before he ran, having been a $1 million yearling. Racing in Robert Sangster’s colors in Europe where he was unbeaten at two and was ranked as high as Nijinsky II and The Minstrel before him, Storm Bird was considered an almost sure thing for the Two Thousand Guineas. But it was not to be.
The first setback came when a disgruntled employee mangled his mane and tail, something that may have had to do with temperament problems he later developed. But even after that disaster, the colt was slow to come around, owing to a series of small problems ranging from a cough to a workout which left him somewhat lame. As a result, Storm Bird was not ready to run at three until the fall and then a planned try at the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe was abandoned when he ran unplaced in his prep, the Prix du Prince d’Orange.
The colt was then retired and took up residence at Ashford Stud near Versailles, Ky., where he proved a success from the start, siring European champions like Indian Skimmer, Bluebird, Prince of Birds, Balanchine, Acushla, Splendid Moment and several others. Storm Bird was no one-dimensional grass stallion, however, also siring American classic winner Summer Squall, Santa Anita Derby winner Personal Hope, Hollywood Oaks victress Pacific Squall and most important of all, Young America winner Storm Cat, who missed by a nose to Tasso in the 1985 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Colts.
It is Storm Cat which insures that Storm Bird’s name will remain in pedigrees for many seasons to come, for he has proven a more popular stallion than his own sire, due in large part to the speed and precocity of his get. Storm Cat is at his best getting young, quick stock, but when crossed with stamina mares, he has also proven capable of getting such a classic horse as Tabasco Cat and good Europeans like Catrail and Munaaji, so he is not simply a sire of raw speed.
Because Storm Bird was so successful, two full siblings to him brought enormous prices – full brothers Ballydoyle and Northern State sold for $3.5 and $3.6 million respectively. Neither proved the success either as a runner or sire that Storm Bird himself has become, though a mare with a line of either of these horses can certainly be used to breed back to a Storm Bird or Storm Cat son provided the remainder of the pedigree is a good fit.
Storm Bird is also off to a fine start as a broodmare sire, the most notable produce of his daughters to date being double classic victor Thunder Gulch and champion Flanders. Because of the popularity of the Mr. Prospector/Northern Dancer cross, many of his daughters’ stakes horses have been sired by stallions from that line effecting, as always, sex-balanced inbreeding to Native Dancer.
In recent years, Storm Bird experienced some fertility problems and his books were reduced in size. He was finally pensioned at the end of the 1999 breeding season. But no matter how small his last few foal crops are, his name is indelibly written in the history of the sport.
Solar Display’s pedigree and the part it played in the building of the Storm Bird/Storm Cat dynasty is contiguous to the saturation of American pedigrees with the blood of Bend Or via Teddy and Phalaris. If one looks today at the “Grey Pages” in THE BLOOD HORSE stallion register, it takes but a moment to recognize that it is Bend Or’s sire line that owns the American horse, mostly via Phalaris through the Nearco, *Pharamond II and *Sickle branches. There is a smaller branch of Bend Or via Ormonde which is the Teddy male line, kept viable today through the descendents of Sun Teddy by Damascus and his sons. Which is not to say other branches of Ormonde are not present in American horses; on the contrary, inbreeding to full brothers *Sir Gallahad III and *Bull Dog, both Ormonde-line horses, is pervasive in the breed.
Solar Display herself was Bend Or line via Sun Teddy/Orme and since Teddy was inbred to Bend Or, she immediately picked up those two crosses. She then added three more lines via Isis; Fairy Gold and Tay to bring her total Bend Or contribution to five.
Also of note were her two Sundridge lines via Sun Briar, which would later become important for crossing on Sainfoin blood found in Nearctic via Rock Sand and Bromus. Yet another important note is that Bend Or and Rose Of York are half siblings. Rose Of York is the second dam of Roi Herode, sire of the Tetrarch, he sire of Mumtaz Mahal whose descendents *Nasrullah, *Royal Charger and *Mahmoud would help push the Phalaris revolution forward with the help of this cross in the nether reaches of pedigrees all over the world.
When Solar Display was bred to Chop Chop to get Shining Sun, three more Bend Or lines were added via Sir Gallahad III, La Flambe and Kendal and another Sundridge line found its way into the mix as well. Then along comes New Providence, sire of South Ocean, who is also Teddy/Bend Or-line and who has another Bend Or cross via Phalaris plus two lines of The Tetrarch, and the foundation for a very fast broodmare family was firmly in place.
Enter now Northern Dancer, whose sire Nearctic was Bend Or via Cyllene/Phalaris; had another line of Ajax/Ormonde; and two more Bend Or lines via Cyllene son Minoru and Orme daughter Topiary. Northern Dancer’s dam, not to be left out of the equation, also added four lines of Bend Or via a Fairy Gold double and two lines of Polymelus.
In addition, Natalma’s dam, Almahmoud, was inbred to The Tetrarch, just as New Providence had been, and scattered through all these pedigrees were lines of Macaroni and Newminster. Macaroni, which worked very favorably with Bend Or, was out of the mare Jocose, she out of Banter. Banter was also the dam of Newminster’s sire, Touchstone.
Of all the speed influences added before, the most recent – and most potent – has been added via Storm Cat’s second dam Crimson Saint. This is a mare who was fast on the racetrack and begat speed, as well she might have, as her pedigree is riddled with swiftness. For example, there are nine easy-to-spot strains of Bend Or and seven more of Domino. No wonder the Storm Cats have been said to have “serious gas”.
Solar Display produced her last foal, the stakes placed colt Victorian Display, in 1967, but her foundation of speed had firmly been laid. Her greatest producing descendent, South Ocean, was destroyed in May of 1989. When Northern Dancer himself died the following year, he was buried next to South Ocean with the grand mare Canadiana on his other side, thus affording Windfields’ little king fine company in the afterlife.
Solar Display keeps on giving long after her death. Not only are her descendents writing new chapters to her story with every passing racing season, but the way her bloodlines were structured and added to serves as a history lesson to all breeders who crave a quick and precocious family and would like to build one of their own.
So for her contribution of that most precious of commodities – speed – Solar Display and her descendents South Ocean, Ocean’s Answer, Northernette, and Solometeor are now Reines-de-Course. We expect to return to Solometeor’s branch in the future to add new mares, as this part of the family appears to be experiencing a rebirth of late.