Remembering the Greats: Mr. Prospector

Horse Racing Radar
Valerie Mellema
Valerie Mellema is a Staff writer for Horse Racing Radar
Thursday, December 31, 2020

If there's one horse that is easily found in the pedigrees of thousands of racehorses, it's MR. PROSPECTOR. While he's not necessarily all that "old" in terms of iconic sires, he has certainly made his mark on the industry. 

Born on January 28, 1970, MR. PROSPECTOR was the sale topper in the 1971 Keeneland July Sale. While he had blazing speed, he suffered multiple injuries. He was by RAISE A NATIVE and out of GOLD DIGGER, by NASHUA. He was bred by Leslie Combs II in Kentucky and owned by Abraham "Butch" Savin, who purchased the colt for $225,000.

Out of 14 starts, he had 7 wins, 4 seconds, 2 thirds, and $112, 181 in earnings. In 1973, he was second in the Derby Trial Stakes at 8 furlongs on the Churchill Downs track. He set a track record for 6 furlongs at Gulfstream Park with a time of 1:07-? in an allowance race. The record stood until 1993 until his great-grandson ARTAX broke the record with a time of 1:07.89.

In 1974, he won the Gravesend Handicap at 6 furlongs at Aqueduct and the Whirlaway Handicap at 6 furlongs at Garden State. He set a track record there as well with a time of 1:08-?. That year he had three seconds in the Carter Handicap, Firecracker Handicap, and Royal Poinciana Stakes. He was third in Paumonok Handicap. All of his races were six and seven furlongs. 

He ran with a high weight for most sprinters in the seventies carrying 126 pounds. The official champion sprinter that year was Horse of the Year FOREGO, who carried 130 pounds. 

He stood with strong hindquarters at 16 hands, but had unusually strong hind legs. His only fault being slightly turned out on his right front foot. He was a little plan, but masculine. He reminded the horsemen of the day of his maternal grandsire, NASHUA. He was trained by Jimmy Croll, who said he was professional and quick to learn. 

Where MR. PROSPECTOR really stood out was as a sire. He started his career in Florida at Aisco Farm near Ocala in 1975. He moved to Clairborne Farm in Kentucky after the 1980 breeding season.

In 1978, he led the American freshman sire list and then the American general sire list in 1987 and 1988. He was the leading broodmare sire nine times from 1997 to 2003 and 2005. In 2004, he was the runner-up. He was the leading sire of juveniles in 1979 and 1988. 

He didn't just make a mark in America, but overseas as well. He was ninth on the English/Irish general sire list in 1985 and 10th in 1984. He was seventh on the English/Irish broodmare sire list in 2006. He was even a top broodmare sire in France in 1989 and 2003. 

MR. PROSPECTOR sired 755 winners and 182 stakes winners from 1195 named foals. While he passed on his excellent conformation in his hindquarters, he was known for slightly offset knees, turned out forefeet, and sometimes poor feet altogether. 

The list of notable progeny by MR. PROSPECTOR is lengthy. It's so lengthy, that it's difficult to to even pare it down to just a handful, as they have all made their mark in some fashion. 

AFLEET - Sovereign Award 1987 Horse of the Year, Sovereign Award 1987 Champion 3 Year Old Colt, 3rd in 1988 Breeders' Cup Sprint, 1987 Breeders' Cup Classic participant

ALDEBARAN - Eclipse Award 2003 Champion Sprinter, 2002 Breeders' Cup Mile participant, 2003 Breeders' Cup Sprint participant, Earned $1,739,186

CARSON CITY - 1990 Breeders' Cup Sprint Participant and Grade 2 winner

CHESTER HOUSE - 1999 Breeders' Cup Classic Participant, Grade 1 winner, Earned $1,944,545 

CONQUISTADOR CIELO - 1982 Belmont Stakes winner, 1982 Eclipse Award Horse of the Year, 1982 Eclipse Award Champion 3-Year-Old Colt

COUP DE GENIE - 1993 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies participant

DANCETHRUTHEDAWN - Sovereign Award 2001 Champion 3-year-old, Earned $1,609,643

DISTANT VIEW - 1994 Breeders' Cup Mile participant

EILLO - 1984 Eclipse Award Champion Sprinter, 1984 Breeders' Cup Sprint winner

FANTASTIC FIND - Grade 1 winner

FAPPIANO - 1981 Metropolitan Handicap (G1) winner

FORTY NINER - 1987 Eclipse Award Champion 2-Year-Old, 2nd in 1988 Kentucky Derby, 1988 Breeders' Cup Classic participant

FUSAICHI PEGASUS - 1st 2000 Kentucky Derby, 2nd 2000 Preakness Stakes, 2000 Breeders' Cup Classic Participant, Earner of $1,994,400

GOLD BEAUTY - 1982 Eclipse Award Champion Sprinter

GOLDEN ATTRACTION - 1995 Eclipse Award Champion 2-Year-Old Filly, 3rd 1995 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies

GONE WEST - Multiple graded stakes winner

GULCH - 1988 Eclipse Award Champion Sprinter, 3rd Belmont Stakes 1987, 1st 1988 Breeders' Cup Sprint, 1986 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Sprint participant, 1987 Breeders' Cup Classic participant

IT'S IN THE AIR - 1978 Eclipse Award Champion 2-Year-Old Filly

KINGMAMBO - Winner of 1993 Prix du Moulin de Longchamp (G1), 1993, St. James's Palace Stakes (G1), 1993 Dubai Poule d'Essai des Poulains-French Two Thousand Guineas (G1)

MACHIAVELLIAN - 1989 Prix Morny, 1989 Prix de la Salamandre, 1990 Prix Djebel

MISWAKI - 1980 Prix Yacowlef, 1980 Prix de la Salamandre (G1)

PREACH - 1991 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies participant

PROCIDA - 1983 Criterium de Maisons-Laffitte (G2), 1984 Prix de la Foret (G1), 1984 Hollywood Derby (G1)

PROSPECTORS DELIGHT - 1992 Ashland Stakes (G1), 1992 Acorn Stakes (G1)

QUEENA - 1991 Eclipse Award Champion Older Mare, 1991 Breeders' Cup Distaff Participant

RAVINELLA - 1988 Breeders' Cup Mile participant

RHYTHM - 1989 Eclipse Award Champion 2-Year-Old Colt, 1st 1998 Breeders' Cup Juvenile, 1990 Breeders' Cup Classic Participant, Earner of $1,592,532

SCAN - 1991 Breeders' Cup Mile participant

SEEKING THE GOLD - 2nd 1988 Breeders' Cup Classic, 1988 Super Derby (G1), 1988 Dwyer Stakes (G1), sire of 91 stakes winners

SMART STRIKE - 1996 Philip H. Iselin Handicap (G1), 1996 Salvator Mile Handicap (G3), Leading North American sire in 2007 and 2008

TANK'S PROSPECT - 1st 1985 Preakness Stakes, 1984 2nd Breeders' Cup Juvenile

TWO PUNCH - 1986 Bachelor Stakes, Maryland's champion sire in 1994, 1995 and 1997

WOODMAN - Sold for $3 million at Keeneland July Selected Yearling Sale, 1985 Futurity Stakes, 1985 Anglesey Stakes, Notable Sire of WANDO, the 2003 Canadian Triple Crown winner

MR. PROSPECTOR stood at Claiborne Farm until he passed away in June 1990. He is buried in the Claiborne Farm equine cemetery.


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