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Dahlia (horse)

Sire Vaguely Noble
Grandsire Vienna
Dam Charming Alibi
Damsire Honeys Alibi
Sex Mare
Foaled 1970
Country United States
Colour Chestnut
Breeder Nelson Bunker Hunt
Owner Nelson Bunker Hunt
Allen E. Paulson (1988)
Trainer Maurice Zilber
Charlie Whittingham (age 6)
Record 46: 15-3-7
Earnings $1,489,105
Major wins
Prix Yacowlef (1972)
Prix de la Grotte (1973)
Prix Saint-Alary (1973)
Irish Oaks (1973)
K. George VI & Q. Elizabeth Stakes (1973, 1974)
Prix Niel (1973)
Washington, D.C. International (1973)
Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud (1974)
Benson and Hedges Gold Cup (1974, 1975)
Man O' War Stakes (1974)
Canadian International Stakes (1974)
Hollywood Invitational Handicap (1976)
European Champion 3-Yr-Old (1973)
United Kingdom Horse of the Year (1973, 1974)
U.S. Champion Turf Horse (1974)
Timeform rating: 135
United States Racing Hall of Fame
#50 - Top 100 U.S. Racehorses of the 20th Century
Dahlia Handicap at Hollywood Park Racetrack
Dahlia Stakes at Newmarket Racecourse

Dahlia (March 25, 1970 - 6 April 2001) was an American-bred Hall of Fame Thoroughbred racemare who won major races in France, England, Ireland, Canada, and the United States. She was the first Thoroughbred mare to earn more than $1 million.

Dahlia was a chestnut mare that was foaled in 1970 and was by Group one (G1) Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner Vaguely Noble. Her dam, Charming Alibi, was by Honeys Alibi. She was inbred to Hyperion in the fourth generation (4m x 4f). Dahlia was a sister to Very Charming and the moderate stakes winner Captain General. She was also a half sister to Amalgam, Canadian Bound, Golden Alibi and six others, none of which had anything like her ability, even though they were by top sires.[1]

Racing record

Owned and bred by Texas oilman Nelson Bunker Hunt, Dahlia was trained in France by Maurice Zilber. She raced on turf in Europe, and during her career, few could successfully compete with her over the grass. As a two-year-old, she won the Prix Yacowlef.[2]

At age three, in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot Racecourse she was last entering the short straight but then raced past the field to defeat male horses of her own age and older, including John W. Galbreath's Epsom Derby winner Roberto, to win by six lengths. During 1973 she also won the following races in Europe: the Prix de la Grotte, Prix Saint-Alary, Irish Oaks Stakes and Prix Niel.[2] From there, Dahlia became one of international racing's biggest stars during the 1970s and a multi award-winner in Europe and the United States.

As a four-year-old, she won the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud, the G1 Benson and Hedges Gold Cup for the first time, and the Man O' War Stakes. In Canada in 1974, she won the Canadian International Stakes in course-record time.[2] In 1975, Dahlia again won the Benson & Hedges Stakes contested over 10 furlongs. Sent to race permanently in California in 1976, she was trained by Charlie Whittingham. Based at Hollywood Park Racetrack, she won the 1976 G1 Hollywood Invitational Handicap contested over 10 furlongs. She was only the second female winner (after Typecast) of this race since its inception 35 years earlier.

In all, Dahlia had 48 starts, for 15 wins and 3 seconds and 7 thirds, defeating Classic-winning colts, in England, Ireland, France, Canada and the United States for $1,489,105 in prize money. She won an Eclipse Award and was voted 1973 and 1974 United Kingdom Horse of the Year. In 1981, she was inducted into the American Horse Racing Hall of Fame.

Breeding record

At the end of the 1976 racing season, Dahlia was retired and went on to a top record as a broodmare, something uncommon among great racemares. In 1988, Hunt sold his racing operations, and Dahlia was purchased for $1.1 million by American owner/breeder Allen E. Paulson, who sent her to Diamond A Farm in Kentucky.

Bred to leading stallions, she produced 12 foals:

  • 1978 - colt Balcones (USA) Bold Forbes (USA)
  • 1979 - colt Decadrachm by What A Pleasure (USA)
  • 1980 - colt J.O. Dahlia by J.O. Tobin (USA)
  • 1981 bay colt, Dahar by Lyphard, winner of four G1 events in France and the US, including the G1 Prix Lupin
  • 1982 - colt Rivlia by Riverman, three G1 wins in the US, including the Hollywood Invitational Hcp.
  • 1983 - filly Begonia by Plugged Nickle (USA)
  • 1984 - colt, Delegant by Grey Dawn (FR), won San Juan Capistrano Invitational Hcp.
  • 1985 - filly Dahlia's Image by Lyphard (USA)
  • 1987 - filly Wajd, by Northern Dancer (CAN), G2 winner of Grand Prix d'Évry, dam of St Leger winner Nedawi.
  • 1989 - filly Dahlia's Dreamer by Theatrical (IRE), G1 winner of Flower Bowl Invitational H.
  • 1990 - colt Llandaff by Lyphard (USA), won US Jersey Derby
  • 1994 - filly Darling Dahlia by Strawberry Road (AUS)
  • 1996 - chestnut filly Tani by Theatrical (IRE)[3]

She was pensioned in 1996 and remained there until her death, at 31 years, in 2001 when she was buried in the farm's horse cemetery.[4]

Tabulated pedigree

Pedigree of Dahlia (USA)chestnut mare, 1970
Vaguely Noble (IRE)
Vienna (GB)
Aureole Hyperion
Turkish Blood Turkhan
Noble Lassie (GB)
Nearco (ITY) Pharos
Belle Sauvage Big Game
Tropical Sun
Charming Alibi
Honeys Alibi
Alibhai Hyperion
Honeymoon Beau Pere
Adorada (ARG)
Hierocles Abjer
Gilded Wave Gallant Fox
Ondulation (Family: 13-c)[5]

See also

List of leading Thoroughbred racehorses


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ a b c Australian Stud Book: Dahlia Retrieved 2011-1-5
  3. ^ Bloodhorse Retrieved 2011-1-5
  4. ^ [
  5. ^ Morris, Simon; Tesio Power 2000 - Stallions of the World, Syntax Software
  • Dahlia at the U.S. Racing Hall of Fame
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