Northern Spur won the Breeders' Cup Turf in 1995.

Northern Spur won the Breeders' Cup Turf in 1995.

Skip Dickstein

Champion Grass Horse Northern Spur Dies

Northern Spur earned champion honors after winning 1995 Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT).

Northern Spur, champion grass horse of 1995, died earlier this month at a New York farm following a bout with colic. An Irish-bred son of Sadler's Wells, Northern Spur was 25.

Campaigned by Oaklawn Park president Charles J. Cella, Northern Spur nailed down champion grass horse honors in 1995 by closing out the year with wins in the Oak Tree Invitational Stakes (gr. I) at Santa Anita Park and the Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT) at Belmont Park, holding off Freedom Cry by a neck in the 1 1/2-mile test.

"Northern Spur took my family and me on an amazing ride," Cella said. "Winning the Breeders' Cup Turf was a huge thrill and one of my proudest moments as an owner. I was very saddened to learn that Northern Spur has died, but will always have such wonderful memories of him."

Each year Oaklawn Park offers the Northern Spur Stakes, a one-mile race for 3-year-olds.

Northern Spur began his career in Europe and won a group II race in France. Racing Hall of Fame trainer Ron McAnally went to $1.3 million for Cella to land Northern Spur in a private purchase from Takahiro Wada, breeders Swettenham Stud, Barry Weisbord, Tommy Stack, and John Magnier. 

In 1995 and 1996, Norhtern Spur would earn grade I placings in three other races and retired after that season with a 6-4-3 record from 15 starts and earnings of $1,614,425.

Northern Spur stood in Kentucky and New York during his stallion career. He is the sire of four stakes winners including grade III winner Chausson Poire. 

After initially standing at Longfield Farm, Northern Spur moved to Annette Bacola and Bob Cummings' True North Farm in Versailles, Ky. in 2005. The couple moved Northern Spur to New York and then pensioned him a couple of seasons ago.

"He was such a gentleman; you certainly can't say that about every stallion but he was the sweetest thing," Bacola said. "He liked people and he really liked having a companion. We always tried to have a gelding with him in his paddock and he loved that."

Bacola said they had begun plans to move Northern Spur to Old Friends in Georgetown, Ky.

"We're just heart-broken. You just get so attached to these horses," Bacola said. "We're not the largest operation so you really get to know these horses."

Bacola said it's a mystery why Northern Spur didn't enjoy more success as a stallion but she's looking forward to seeing how he does as a broodmare sire. Hidden Queens, a daughter of Northern Spur, is expecting her first foal, by Alpha, this year.