El Gran Senor
|El Gran Senor|
|Breeder||E. P. Taylor, Vincent O'Brien, John Magnier, Robert Sangster|
|Railway Stakes (1983)
National Stakes (1983)
Dewhurst Stakes (1983)
Gladness Stakes (1984)
2,000 Guineas (1984)
Irish Derby Stakes (1984)
|Timeform top-rated two-year-old colt (1983)
Top-rated European two-year-old colt (1983)
Timeform top-rated three-year-old colt (1984)
Top-rated European three-year-old colt (1984)
Timeform rating 136 (1984)
|Last updated on December 31, 2009|
El Gran Senor (1981–2006) was an American-bred Thoroughbred race horse, foaled at Windfields Farm in Maryland. He was the best horse of his generation in Europe at both two and three years of age, ahead of an outstanding group of contemporaries which included Chief Singer, Darshaan, Rainbow Quest, Sadler's Wells, Lashkari, Pebbles, Commanche Run and Northern Trick. His only defeat in eight races came when he was beaten a short head by Secreto in the 1984 Epsom Derby. El Gran Senor received a Timeform rated 136. He also enjoyed notable success at stud, had been pensioned at Ashford Stud in Kentucky since 2000, and was 25 years old when he died on October 18, 2006.
He was born in 1981 and was bred at Windfields Farm in Maryland by Windfields' owner E. P. Taylor in partnership with Vincent O'Brien, John Magnier, and Robert Sangster.  His name comes from the nickname of Horatio Luro, Northern Dancer's trainer. El Gran Senor went to Ireland to be trained by Dr Vincent O'Brien, who had trained numerous major winners for Sangster.
The colt was unbeaten as a two-year-old. He won the Railway Stakes (Gr3) and National Stakes (Gr2) at The Curragh in Ireland. For his final race that year, he was sent to Newmarket in England for the Dewhurst Stakes (Gr1), the most prestigious two-year-old race in that country. His easy defeat of Rainbow Quest earned him an unusually high two-year-old rating of 131 from Timeform.
As a three-year-old, El Gran Senor again raced four times. Injury ended his season mid-summer. He easily won the Gladness Stakes (L) at The Curragh and then returned to Newmarket in England, where he competed in the 2,000 Guineas Stakes (Gr1), the first Classic of the year. El Gran Senor beat Chief Singer, Lear Fan and Rainbow Quest in that race. In the months that followed El Gran Senor's win at Newmarket, Chief Singer took the St. James's Palace Stakes (Gr2) and Sussex Stakes (Gr1) over a mile and the July Cup (Gr1) over six furlongs. Lear Fan, who later became a very successful stallion, won the Prix Jacques le Marois (Gr1) over a mile at Deauville in France. Rainbow Quest, who became one of the best stallions in England, won the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (Gr1) at Longchamp in France and the Coronation Cup (Gr1) at Epsom in England.
Despite doubts over his stamina, stemming from the amount of speed in the distaff side of his pedigree and the speed he had shown at Newmarket, El Gran Senor was an odds-on favourite for the Derby (Gr1) over 12 furlongs at Epsom. In the stretch, he engaged in a battle with another Irish-trained colt in Secreto and lost narrowly. Secreto had finished third in the Irish 2,000 Guineas (Gr1) over a mile at The Curragh in his previous race. Both colts, trained by father and son, were sired by the same stallion, were bred at the same stud farm and, it has been reported, had shared a paddock when they were a year old.
Secreto was subsequently injured and never raced again. He became a reasonably successful stallion. El Gran Senor went on to beat Rainbow Quest in the Irish Derby (Gr1) over 12 furlongs at The Curragh.  He then sustained an injury and was retired to stud in America.
Throughout his stud career, El Gran Senor had low fertility and typically sired no more than 40 foals in any year - these days, most top sires and champions sire between 60 and 180 foals in a year. Over the course of his career, he fathered fewer than 400 foals. There were only 14 in his first foal-crop, but they included Al Hareb, who won the Racing Post Trophy (Gr1) over a mile in England. Al Hareb is at stud in Australia, and while his overall record is unremarkable, he did sire the top class sprinter Hareeba, a multiple Group 1 winning sprinter. El Gran Senor sired a total of 12 horses who won at the highest level - Group/Grade 1. These included South African classic winner Kundalini, top American fillies Corrazona, Spanish Fern and Toussaud, Breeders' Cup Sprint hero Lit de Justice, and multiple European Group 1 winner Rodrigo de Triano.
He was pensioned from stallion duty at the age of 19, but his tally of 55 stakes winners represented a rate of more than 14% stakes winners to named foals - 10%+ is the usually accepted sign of a very good stallion. His record as a sire of successful stallions has been disappointing. As a broodmare sire, however, he has done very well. His top-class daughter Toussaud ranks among a tiny handful of mares who have produced as many as four Group/Grade 1 winners. Her son Chester House (by Mr Prospector) won the Arlington Million (Gr1). Her daughter Honest Lady (by Seattle Slew) won the Santa Monica Handicap (Gr1). Another son, Chiselling (by Woodman), won the Secretariat Stakes (Gr1) before taking up stallion duties in South Africa. Her fourth Grade 1 winner is Belmont Stakes (Gr1) winner Empire Maker (by Unbridled). Empire Maker stood at his owner-breeder Prince Khalid Abdullah's Juddmonte Farm in Kentucky until November, 2010, when he was sold to Japanese breeders, leaving seven crops including foals of 2011. Eleven days earlier, his two-year-old daughter Royal Delta won her first start by 12 lengths. Champion Royal Delta sold for $8.5 million in 2011 in mid-career, leading an upsurge in Empire Maker's ranking as a sire.
- June 7, 1984 Chicago Tribune article titled "El Gran Senor loses by a head at Epsom"
- July 7, 2000 Bloodhorse.com article titled "El Gran Senor Pensioned"