Northern Dancer in the Florida Derby

Northern Dancer in the Florida Derby

Jim Raftery / Turfotos

On This Day...

March 28, 1964
Northern Dancer at Gulfstream Park

Northern Dancer stayed in the Sunshine State to run in the Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park. But first there was the matter of a prep race.

On March 28, Northern Dancer equaled the seven-furlong track record of 1:22 2/5 in winning an allowance race as the 2-5 favorite a week before the Florida Derby. Winner of the Flamingo Stakes at Hialeah in early March, Northern Dancer was now in the enviable position of becoming the sixth horse to win both of Florida's most important preps for the Kentucky Derby. Preceding him were Nashua, Needles, Tim Tam, Bally Ache, and Carry Back, each of whom captured at least one classic.

Northern Dancer won the Florida Derby by a length as the 1-5 favorite, and then took the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland in his final Kentucky Derby prep. In what would prove an historic occasion, Northern Dancer became the first Canadian-bred to win the Kentucky Derby. He next won the Preakness, but couldn't handle the 1 1/2-mile distance of the Belmont Stakes and finished third.