Nearco (January 24, 1935 – June 27, 1957) was an Italian-bred Thoroughbred racehorse described by Thoroughbred Heritage as "one of the greatest racehorses of the Twentieth Century" and "one of the most important sires of the century." He was unbeaten, winning 14 races at distances from 1000m (5 furlongs) to 3000m (1 mile 7 furlongs), including the Derby Italiano and Grand Prix de Paris. He was then sold for a record amount and stood stud in England, where he became the patriarch of several of the most dominant sire lines in Thoroughbred history.
|Earnings||$86,328 (converted from earnings in Italy and France)|
|Gran Criterium (1937)|
Premio Tevere (1937)
Premio Chiusura (1937)
Derby Italiano (1938)
Premio Parioli (1938)
Gran Premio di Milano (1938)
Gran Premio d'Italia (1938)
Grand Prix de Paris (1938)
|Italian champion two-year-old (1937)|
Italian champion three-year-old (1938)
Italian Horse of the Year (1938)
Leading sire in GB & Ireland (1947, 1948)
Leading broodmare sire in Britain & Ireland (1955, 1956)
Nearco was bred in Italy by Federico Tesio, who also bred several other champions including the undefeated Ribot. His dam was the excellent racemare Nogara, who had won the Italian 1000 and 2000 guineas and was Italian champion filly at ages two and three. In 1934, Tesio wished to breed Nogara to the leading English sire Fairway, but was unable to obtain a nomination. Therefore, Tesio chose to breed Nogara to Fairway's full brother, Pharos.
Nearco stood just over 16 hands (64 inches, 163 cm) and had nearly perfect conformation. He was known for his fiery temperament and explosive turn of foot, traits he passed on to many of his descendants. After retiring to stud, Nearco could only be handled by his groom Ernie Lee.
In 1937, Nearco won all seven of his starts on his way to being named Italian champion two-year-old. His races were as follows:
- June 1937 – Premio Colico at San Siro (1000m)
- September 1937 – Premio Menaggio at San Siro (1200m)
- September 1937 – Premio Vimercate at San Siro (1200m)
- September 1937 – Criterium Nazionale at San Siro (1200m)
- October 1937 – Gran Criterium at San Siro (1500m)
- October 1937 – Premio Tevere at Capannelle (1600m)
- November 1937 – Premio Chiusura at San Siro (1400m)
In his 1986 book Makers of the Modern Thoroughbred, Peter Willett wrote that Tesio tried to sell Nearco at two, believing that the colt would not have enough stamina to last the classic distances. Tesio later wrote in his stud book, "Not a true stayer, though he won up to 3,000 meters... He won these longer races by his superb class and brilliant speed."
In 1938, Nearco again won all seven starts and was named Italian champion three-year-old and Horse of the Year. His races were as follows:
- February 1938 – Premio Ministero Agricoltura e Foreste at Pisa (1400m)
- April 1938 – Premio Parioli (Italian 2000 Guineas) at Capannelle (1600m)
- May 1938 – Premio Principe Emanuele Filliberto at San Siro (2000m)
- May 1938 – Gran Premio del Re Imperatore (Derby Italiano) at Capannelle (2400m)
- May 1938 – Gran Premio d'Italia at San Siro (2400m)
- June 1938 – Gran Premio di Milano at San Siro (3000m)
- June 1938 – Grand Prix de Paris at Longchamp (3000m)
Nearco retired undefeated after 14 races. With the political turmoil and the possibility of war caused by Benito Mussolini aligning Italy with Nazi Germany, Federico Tesio sold Nearco in 1938 to Martin H. Benson of Beech House Stud in Newmarket, England, for £60,000 (a world record for a sire in those days; equal to about £3.5 million in 2016). The potential importance of Nearco's progeny was forecast in the provision of a bomb shelter to ensure his survival should London be subject to an air raid.
Nearco was one of the top 10 sires in England for 15 years. He was the leading sire in Great Britain and Ireland in 1947 and, depending on the source, either 1948 or 1949 or both. From 482 named foals, he sired 273 winners (56.6%) and 87 stakes winners (18.0%). His major stakes winners include:
- Nasrullah, top rated two-year-old of 1942
- Dante, 1945 Epsom Derby
- Royal Charger, 1946 Queen Anne Stakes
- Sayajirao, 1947 St. Leger Stakes
- Masaka, 1948 Epsom and Irish Oaks
- Nimbus, 1949 Epsom Derby and 2,000 Guineas
- Neasham Belle, 1951 Epsom Oaks
- Hafiz, 1955 Queen Elizabeth II and Champion Stakes
- Nearctic, 1958 Canadian Horse of the Year
Nearco died from cancer on 27 June 1957, and was buried at Beech House Stud.
Sire of siresEdit
Nearco's legacy primarily comes from three of his sons, Nasrullah, Royal Charger and Nearctic, although several other sons also sired important winners. In all, more than 100 of Nearco's sons have stood at stud around the world.
- Grey Sovereign, to whom 2016 Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist descends through the Caro sire line
- Red God, whose modern descendants include 2010 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom through the Blushing Groom sire line
- Bold Ruler, eight-time leading sire in the United States, whose descendants include Triple Crown winners Secretariat and Seattle Slew. More recently, Seattle Slew has established a successful sire line that has produced several American classic winners including California Chrome
- Never Bend, sire of Mill Reef, whose modern descendants include Sir Percy and Dalakhani
Royal Charger's most important son was Turn-To, whose most important sire sons were Halo and Roberto. Halo was the sire of dual classic winner Sunday Silence, who then became the leading sire in Japan from 1995 through 2007. Sunday Silence is the sire of numerous Japanese champions including Deep Impact, and is the grandsire of the top-rated horse of 2014 Just A Way.
Nearctic is principally known as the sire of Northern Dancer, who won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness before becoming one of the dominant sires of the late 20th century. Northern Dancer sired numerable sons who themselves went on to become outstanding sires, principally Nijinsky, Lyphard, Nureyev, Storm Bird, Danzig and Sadler's Wells. The Northern Dancer sire line accounts for hundreds of major winners from around the world, particularly in Europe. His modern descendants include Justify, Galileo, Ouija Board, Sea the Stars, Black Caviar, Frankel and Treve.
Several of Nearco's male-line descendants were ranked among the Top 100 U.S. Racehorses of the 20th Century by The Blood-Horse: #2 Secretariat, #9 Seattle Slew, #10 Spectacular Bid, #18 Cigar, #19 Bold Ruler, #24 Nashua, #31 Sunday Silence, #35 Ruffian, #43 Northern Dancer, #57 Riva Ridge, #58 Slew o' Gold, #69 Noor, #70 Shuvee, #72 Go For Wand, #76 Lady's Secret, #82 Miesque, #85 Lure, #86 Fort Marcy, #90 Davona Dale, #95 Bayakoa and #97 Foolish Pleasure.
Other notable male-line descendants were Ballymoss, Arkle, Never Say Die, Royal Palace, Better Loosen Up, Sir Ivor, Invasor, and Wise Dan. Sireline descendants of Nearco include eight of the first nine horses to earn over $10,000,000 in stakes wins. These horses are Deep Impact, Makybe Diva, Narita Brian, Sunline, Symboli Kris S, T M Opera O, Viva Pataca, and Vodka.
According to France Galop, from 1985 through to 2010, every Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner can trace a bloodline back to Nearco, through his son Nasrullah and / or his grandson Northern Dancer. Including the influence of the daughters from his sire line, it is increasingly rare to find a Thoroughbred without some trace of Nearco in its pedigree.
Fairway and Pharos were full brothers by leading sire Phalaris out of the great broodmare Scapa Flow. Fairway was the more successful racehorse, whose wins included the St Leger and Eclipse Stakes, and also initially was the more successful sire, leading the sire list in Great Britain four times. Pharos was a solid racehorse, winning multiple stakes races and finishing second in the Derby. Pharos also proved himself as a sire, leading the British sire list in 1931. Tesio originally wished to breed his mare Nogara to Fairway, but was unable to obtain a nomination so bred her to Pharos instead.
Nearco's dam Nogara was only 15.1 hands (61 inches, 155 cm) but became a champion on the racetrack and then an outstanding broodmare. In addition to Nearco, she produced seven other winners, including Derby Italiano winner Niccolo Dell'Arca, Oaks d'Italia winner Nervesa, and stakes winners Nakamuro, Naucide and Niccolo d'Arezzo. Nogara's dam Catnip was a "weedy" foal by Epsom Derby winner Spearmint. Purchased by Tesio at the Newmarket sales for just 75 guineas, Catnip went on to produce multiple stakes winners and stakes producers.
dark bay/brown 1920
|Cheery by St. Simon|
|Havresac II (FR)
dark bay/brown 1915
|Hors Concours (FR)||Ajax|
|Simona (GB) by St. Simon|
|Spearmint (GB)||Carbine (NZ)|
|Maid Of The Mint|
|Sibola (USA)||The Sailor Prince (GB)|
|Saluda (family: 4-r)|
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- Peters, Anne. "Pharos – Thoroughbred Heritage". www.tbheritage.com. Retrieved 7 March 2017.
- "Experience Justify's pedigree with this video tour of his greatest ancestors". www.kentuckyderby.com. Retrieved 10 June 2018.
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- "Nearco Sire Line". www.bloodlines.net. Retrieved 29 October 2016.
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- "Royal Charger (horse)". American Classic Pedigrees. Retrieved 29 October 2016.
- "Sunday Silence". American Classic Pedigrees. Retrieved 29 October 2016.
- Duke, Jacqueline, ed. (1999). Thoroughbred champions : top 100 racehorses of the 20th century (1st ed.). Lexington, Ky.: The Blood-Horse, Inc. ISBN 1-58150-024-6.
- Morris, Simon; Tesio Power 2000 – Stallions of the World, Syntax Software
- "Is Sire-Line Outcrossing Possible Anymore?". cs.bloodhorse.com. Retrieved 29 October 2016.
- Pryor, Peter, “The Classic Connection”, Cortney Publications, Luton, 1979
- "Nearco Pedigree". www.equineline.com. Retrieved 29 October 2016.