December 26, 2010

This year, on every continent in which horse racing is contested, a filly or mare won at the highest level against male competitors. And, no, Zenyatta was not among them.

Yet, so much about 2010 will always be about the now-retired mare whose personality (and physical presence) was larger than life—and rightly so. If only her connections had a bit more of Jess Jackson’s sporting gumption and set her on a more ambitious campaign—unfortunately due to their conservatism, she may very well lose the Horse of the Year title to Blame. And how ironic that the same mantra about how winning the Classic last year trumped Rachel Alexandra’s championship campaign in some people’s eyes now may come back to bite Zenyatta’s fans in the ass. Unfortunately, her owners have no one to blame (pardon the pun) but themselves, making it all about one race in open company instead of challenging the best of the best all year long.

It’s also a damn shame that Zenyatta won’t stay in training just a bit longer and challenge the UAE-G1 Dubai Cup. Given the opportunity more often, I have little doubt that she could have proven to be as great (if not greater) than some of the toughest handicap horses in recent memory—Forego and Kelso included. Of course, she never came close to them in terms of race starts, but as a dominating force, few horses match Zenyatta. So, best wishes for your retirement, girl, and I along with many others hope your offspring can replicate your heart and soul—and breath-taking late closing style.

Beyond Zenyatta, 2010 proved to be a year dominated by top fillies and mares. Of course, there’s 5-year-old Goldikova who lost only one race in six starts this year (a second-place finish behind Makfi in the very wet FR-G1 Jacques Le Marois), and easily captured her third consecutive Breeders’ Cup Mile. The exciting 3-year-old Snow Fairy only got stronger as the year progressed, capturing both the G1 English and Irish Oaks in the summer, and then launched an autumn campaign in Asia that resulted in victories against older mares (JPN-G1 QEII Commemorative Cup) and against males (HK-G1 Hong Kong Cup). Both Goldikova and Snow Fairy will return to racing in 2011.

Down Under, Typhoon Tracy began the year with three straight G1 wins in Australia (two in open company), while super sprinting mare Black Caviar remained undefeated after eight starts. At age 6, Hot Danish won five G1 sprints, including back-to-back victories against males in the All-Aged Stakes and Doomben 1000. Trainer Gai Waterhouse’s superb More Joyous rattled off six consecutive wins—including two of the most important open company G1 mile races: the George Main and Toorak—before failing to place in the G1 Cox Plate against superstar colt So You Think. Finally, two of the three Australian Triple Crown races for 2-year-olds were captured by fillies—Crystal Lily (Golden Slipper) and Yosei (AJC Sires’ Produce)—and two fillies (Sasa and Divorces) ran second and third respectively in the third jewel, the Champagne.

While juvenile fillies did their part, so too did mares at the other end of the age spectrum. In addition to Hot Danish, 6-year-olds Veloce Bella and River Jetez won G1 races in New Zealand and South Africa respectively, while the oldest G1-placed mare was 7-year-old Alverta who finished third in the ENG-G1 July Cup. And how about 6-year-old Profound Beauty running second in the G1 Irish St. Leger, less than one length behind Sans Frontieres?

The year wrapped up with Buena Vista, the 4-year-old Japanese filly who has never finished out of the money in 14 starts (all G1 or G2 events), including a second-place finish in this year’s G1 Dubai Sheema Classic—an open company classic won by 5-year-old mare Dar Re Mi. In her four losses (one by a controversial disqualification against Rose Kingdom in the G1 Japan Cup) this year, Buena Vista has never lost by more than 3/4 length. And thus she ended 2010 losing by a mere nose to 3-year-old colt Victoire Pisa in the G1 Arima Kinen.

All told (and with some room for error as there is no one place to find such information), at least 380 fillies and mares won or placed in graded/group stakes this year worldwidenearly 60 times more often than in 2009.

In all, 112 were at the highest (G1) level, including 42 G1 victories, all of which are visible in the right-hand column on this blog (counting Ortensia’s Galaxy win, although later disqualified). Even more impressive, fillies and mares finished one-two in 17 G1 events in Australia (Patinack Farm Classic, Queensland Derby, Sir Rupert Clarke, Doomben 10,000, Goodwood, Sydney Cup, TJ Smith and Golden Slipper); Chile (Gran Premio Hipodromo); Dubai (Sheema Classic); France (Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp and Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud); Germany (Grosser Dallmayr-Preis Bayerisches Zuchtrenner); New Zealand (International and Captain Cook S.); and South Africa (Summer Cup and J & B Met). They also swept the top three spots in the G1 Australian All-Aged S., the Chilean El Derby, and the New Zealand Levin Classic.

Thus, for your viewing pleasure, here are videos of some spectacular filly and mare open company G1 winners this year:

River Jetez, 6yo, SA-G1 J&B Met (January 30)

Casablanca Smile, 3yo, CHI-G1 El Derby (January 31)

Typhoon Tracy, 4yo, AUS-G1 Orr S. (February 6)

Jacqueline, 4yo, IN-G1 Indian Derby (February 7)

Veloce Bella, 6yo, NZ-G1 International (February 13)

Proviso, 5yo, US-G1 Frank Kilroe Mile (March 6)

Banchee, 2yo, NZ-G1 Diamond S. (March 13)

Dar Re Mi, 5yo, UAE-G1 Dubai Sheema Classic (March 27)

Noble Heir, 4yo, SAF-G1 Sprint (May 1)

Desejada Duda, 2yo, BRZ-G1 Jockey Club Brasileiro-Vale do Itajara (June 27)

Lady Jane Digby, 5yo, GER-G1 Grosser Dallmayr-Preis Bayerisches Zuchtrennen (July 25)

Keep the Peace, 4yo, NZ-G1 Mudgway S. (August 28)

Night Magic, 4yo, GER-G1 Grosser Preis von Baden (September 5)

Belle Watling, 4yo, CHI-G1 Gran Premio Latinoamericano (September 17)

More Joyous, 4yo, AUS-G1 Toorak H. (October 9)

Serious Attitude, 4yo, CAN-G1 Nearctic S. (October 16)

Buena Vista, 4yo, JPN-G1 Tenno Sho (October 31)

Black Caviar, 4yo, AUS-G1 Patinack Farm Classic (November 6)

Goldikova, 5yo, US-G1 Breeders’ Cup Mile (November 6)

Flirtation, 4, SAF-G1 Summer Cup (November 27)

Snow Fairy, 3yo, HK-G1 Hong Kong Cup (December 12)

And how can we go without showing the great Zenyatta's final hurrah?

Zenyatta, 5yo, US-G1 Breeders’ Cup Classic (November 6)


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