|Prix Thomas Bryon (1979)|
Prix Djebel (1980)
|Timeform rating 131 (1980)|
Leading sire in France (1987)
Leading broodmare sire in Britain & Ireland (1997)
|Last updated on May 30, 2011|
Nureyev was a bay horse with a white blaze and white sock on his right hind leg bred in Kentucky by the Claiborne Farm. He was sired by Northern Dancer out of the mare Special, making him a half brother of to several winners including Fairy Bridge, the dam of Sadler's Wells. He was bought in 1978 at the Keeneland yearling sale by Stavros Niarchos for US$1.3 million ($5.4 million inflation adjusted), at the time the second-highest paid price ever paid for a yearling—behind only Canadian Bound. Niarchos named the colt in honor of the famous ballet dancer, Rudolf Nureyev. Niarchos sent the colt to race in Europe where he was trained by François Boutin.
The following spring of 1980, he won the Prix Djebel at Maisons-Laffitte Racecourse in his 3-year-old debut. He was then shipped to Newmarket Racecourse in the United Kingdom for the 2000 Guineas. His rider, Philippe Paquet, restrained Nureyev in the early stages before pushing his way through the field (interfering with several other runners) to make his challenge in the final quarter mile. He got the better of a brief struggle with Known Fact to win by a neck with Posse, the main sufferer in the earlier interference, finishing strongly to take third. After a lengthy inquiry, the result overturned by the racing stewards, who awarded the race to Known Fact and relegated Nureyev to last place. It was the first time that a winner of the 2,000 Guineas Classic had been disqualified. Nureyev was scheduled to compete in June's Epsom Derby, but came down with a virus and never raced again.
Nureyev was sent to stand at stud at his owner's Haras de Fresnay-le-Buffard in Neuvy-au-Houlme in Lower Normandy. Renowned French horseman Alec Head recommended Nureyev to Lexington, Kentucky breeder John T. L. Jones Jr. and in mid-1981 put together a syndicate that purchased Nureyev for US$14 million. Nureyev was brought to Jones' Walmac-Warnerton Farm partnership near Lexington and then under Jones' wholly owned Walmac International.
On May 5, 1987, Nureyev suffered a life-threatening fracture to his right hind leg in a paddock accident during breeding season, but veterinary surgeons were able to save his life.
During his breeding career, Nureyev sired 135 stakes winners and more than twenty champions, despite fertility problems. In 1998, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum set a European sales record when he paid three million guineas (about $5.4 million) for yearling colt Abshurr by Nureyev at the Newmarket sales.
Nureyev died at the age of 24 on October 29, 2001. He is buried at Walmac International in Lexington, Kentucky.
Nureyev is also the damsire of several top international horses, including:
- Peteski – the 1993 Canadian Triple Crown champion
- Bago – the 2004 European Champion 3-Yr-Old Colt
- Spinning Queen – sold in November 2006 for three million guineas, becoming the most expensive filly ever sold at public auction in Europe 
- Desert King – winner of the 1996 National Stakes, the 1997 Irish 2,000 Guineas and Irish Derby Stakes
- Zabeel – won 1989 MRVC Stakes (1989), the 1990 Australian Guineas and Craiglee Stakes. Twice Champion Australian sire and four-time Champion New Zealand sire
- Big Brown – 2008 Kentucky Derby winner and the 2008 Preakness Stakes winner
- Manistique – California millionaire mare who won three Grade 1 races.
Northern Dancer (CAN)
|Rough Shod||Gold Bridge|
|Dalmary (Family 5-h)|
- "High horses". Chicago Tribune. Chicago. July 23, 1980. p. 53 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Keeneland Sales Legends: Stavros Niarchos". 14 September 2013.
- "Remembering Nureyev" The Blood-Horse, November 10, 2001. Retrieved 2011-05-30.
- "A Look Back: Saving Nureyev" The Blood-Horse, October 10, 1987. Retrieved 2011-05-30.
- Frances J. Karon, "An Inspiration". Bloodhorse.com, November 13, 2001. Retrieved 2011-05-30.
- John Cobb, "Racing: Spinning Queen breaks sales record" The Independent, 28 November 2006. Retrieved 2011-05-30.
- "Nureyev pedigree". equineline.com. 2012-05-08. Retrieved 2013-06-09.
- "Thoroughbred Bloodlines – Ann of the Forest – Family 5-h". Bloodlines.net. Retrieved 2013-06-09.