Horses For CoursesAll thoroughbreds can be traced back to three original stallions: the Byerley Turk, the Darley Arabian, and the Godolphin Arabian.
I did not know this.
How was I informed of this fascinating fact? In a loading screen of Pocket Card Jockey, believe it or not.
That sent me on a Wikidig, where I found a bit more:
Each of the three major foundation sires was, coincidentally, the ancestor of a grandson or great-great-grandson who was the only male descendant to perpetuate each respective horse's male line: Matchem was the only descendant of his grandsire, the Godolphin Arabian, to maintain a male line to the present; the Byerley Turk's male line was preserved by Herod (or King Herod), a great-great-grandson; and the male line of the Darley Arabian owes its existence to great-great-grandson Eclipse, who was the dominant racehorse of his day and never defeated.
King Herod? That's two thousand years of horse history, right there.
Here's something from LiveScience:
The research finds that a genetic variant associated with speed likely originated with a single mare in the mid-17th century. The gene variant became widespread in modern thoroughbreds, thanks to a single stallion named Nearctic, the father of the most-bred stallion of modern times.
That "most-bred stallion of modern times", by the way, was Northern Dancer.