Opening Verse

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Opening Verse
SireThe Minstrel
GrandsireNorthern Dancer
DamShy Dawn
DamsireGrey Dawn
CountryUnited States
BreederJacques D. Wimpfheimer
Owner1) Sheikh Mohammed (UK)
2) Allen E. Paulson (USA)
Trainer1) Henry Cecil (UK)
2) Richard J. Lundy (USA)
Record30: 10-7-2
Major wins
Somerville Tattersall Stakes (1988)
Strensall Stakes (1989)
Razorback Handicap (1990)
Oaklawn Handicap (1990)
Fort Harrod Stakes (1991)
Turf Classic Stakes (1991) Breeders' Cup wins:
Breeders' Cup Mile (1991)
Opening Verse Handicap at Churchill Downs
Last updated on January 24, 2010

Opening Verse (1986–2002) was a Thoroughbred racehorse who competed in England and the United States.


Bred in Kentucky, his sire was the 1977 Epsom and Irish Derby winner, The Minstrel. Out of the mare Shy Dawn, his damsire was Grey Dawn, the French Champion Two-Year-Old Colt who beat Sea Bird II in the 1964 Grand Criterium at Longchamp Racecourse.

Racing career[edit]

United Kingdom[edit]

Trained in England by Henry Cecil for Sheikh Mohammed, at age two Opening Verse made his racing debut with a win in the August 27, 1988 Park Lodge Maiden Stakes at Newmarket Racecourse. Then, on September 30 he won the Somerville Tattersall Stakes on the same course and on October 25, the Provideo Stakes at Redcar Racecourse. As a three-year-old, Opening Verse went winless until September 7, 1989 when he won the Strensall Stakes at York Racecourse. In the Group One Eclipse Stakes at Sandown Park, he ran second to Nashwan.

United States[edit]

Sold to American, Allen Paulson, one of the preeminent owner/breeders of the 1980s and 1990s, as a four-year-old in 1990 Opening Verse raced in the United States under trainer Richard Lundy. Switched from racing on grass to dirt racing surfaces, he won the Razorback and Oaklawn Handicaps at Oaklawn Park then finished seventh in the 1¼ mile Breeders' Cup Classic, held that year at Belmont Park.

Racing on grass at age five in 1991, Opening Verse had his most successful year. He won the Fort Harrod Stakes at Keeneland, and the Turf Classic Stakes at Churchill Downs. Entered in the 1991 Breeders' Cup Mile, held that year at Churchill Downs, Opening Verse was up against what racecaller Tom Durkin described as "an exceptionally strong field" with stars such as Priolo, the French Champion Three-Year-Old Colt, and In Excess, the American Horse of the Year contender and betting favorite who came into the race having won four Grade 1 races that year. Sent off as a longshot at 26:1 odds, under jockey Pat Valenzuela, Opening Verse rallied from fifth place in the field of fourteen to take the lead in the homestretch and won the race by 1¼ lengths.

Stud record[edit]

Retired to stud duty, Opening Verse's progeny met with modest success in racing, the best of which was Grade I winner and millionaire, Colstar.


Pedigree of Opening Verse
The Minstrel
Northern Dancer Nearctic Nearco
Lady Angela
Natalma Native Dancer
Fleur Victoria Park Chop Chop
Flaming Page Bull Page
Flaring Top
Shy Dawn
Grey Dawn Herbager Vandale
Polamia Mahmoud
Shy Dancer Bolero Eight Thirty
Shy Bim Bimelech