A column in last Saturday's Sports section incorrectly mentioned that a thoroughbred horse, Danzig, was sent to stud at Spendthrift Farm. Danzig was sent to Claiborne Farm in Lexington, Ky.
When Chief's Crown and Stephan's Odyssey finished first and third in the Flamingo Stakes last week, they verified that they are among the top 3-year-olds in America. A speedster named Nordance can do the same this afternoon with a good performance in the Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct.
These colts are all sons of a stallion who never won a stakes race, never went beyond seven-eighths of a mile and ran only three times in his life. But if that stallion, Danzig, did not get much recognition as a racehorse, he is getting it now. He has had such a phenomenal start to his stud career that his value has skyrocketed from $3.7 million to more than $60 million in a year.
Danzig had the pedigree to be a top racehorse -- he is a son of the great stallion Northern Dancer -- but he had physical problems all his racing life. Trainer Woody Stephens spent $310,000 of owner Henryk deKwiatkowski's money for him as a yearling, but he saw the potential problems even then.
"He had a little splint," Stephens recalled, "but I said, 'Aw, that'll go away.' " It never did.
When Danzig was a 2-year-old, Stephens had to baby him in his training, but finally got him fit for a race. Danzig accelerated like a rocket and won by 5 1/2 lengths, but Stephens said, "The next day his knee was burning up, and the X-rays showed he had a big chip."
Danzig was finished for that season, and the next year his knee still was bothering him. Stephens got him to the races twice. Danzig won a six-furlong race by 7 1/2 lengths in 1:09 2/5 and a seven-furlong race by nearly six lengths in a sensational 1:22 flat.
Speed handicappers classed Danzig's performances with great horses like Seattle Slew and Affirmed. But the colt never got to prove his ability any further.
Stephens was so apprehensive about that left knee that he had Danzig X-rayed after every workout and every race. After Danzig's seven-furlong victory, Stephens sent the X-rays to a Kentucky veterinarian who told him, flatly, "If you run him again, you'll ruin him."
Danzig's career was over after three races. Because he never was able to prove himself, he was syndicated for a modest $80,000 per share when he went to stud at Spendthrift Farm.
Danzig's first crop of offspring were 2-year-olds last season, and they amazed everybody in the breeding industry. "Two years earlier," said Bill Oppenheim, editor of Racing Update, "I thought Seattle Slew was as good as you could get as a stallion. But Danzig is off to an even better start. What he's done is really unprecedented."
Thirteen sons and daughters of Danzig went to the races as 2-year-olds. Eleven won races, and nine were stakes horses. Chief's Crown was the champion 2-year-old. Stephan's Odyssey won the $1 million Hollywood Juvenile. Contredance was ranked among the country's 10 best fillies.
Danzig's stud fee has soared to $300,000. Some of the 40 shares in his syndicate have traded hands recently for prices in the vicinity of $1.7 million, which puts Danzig's value at about $68 million -- not too bad for a horse who earned $32,000 in his racing career.