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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


Lovers of the Thoroughbred game, especially on the distaff side, were the big winners yesterday. Bettors were too since, Kentucky Derby notwithstanding, the upcoming Breeders’ Cup is the best betting event America has to offer.

It all began Saturday morning with a detailed dispatch from the Racing Post, informing horse lovers that the great John Gosden has the great Enable in position to try do the impossible.


“Enable is very happy and well,” Gosden told the Racing Post. “She has been fine since [her last race at] Kempton… The Arc is a massive task, a big mountain to climb again. If it had gone right last year, she obviously wouldn’t be trying to do it this year.”

At this posting, Enable is second favorite to another filly, three-year-old Love, trained by Aidan O’Brien and, of course, will get a significant weight concession from her elders. Gosden will saddle two in the world-famous event; the redoubtable stayer Stradivarius, second recently in his Arc de Triomphe prep.

At the moment the ground is quite firm, a bit unusual for the Paris layout, and Enable prefers it on the good side of firm. But she’s remarkably adaptable and Frankie Dettori will be aboard for next week’s important workout.

Should Enable make history and win her third Arc, it seems highly doubtful she would ship state-side for the BC Filly and Mare Turf but one can never say never in this game.

Clearly, Arnaud Delacour is thinking about it with Magic Attitude who impressed in her U.S. debut vs. three-year-olds, taking Saturday’s G1 Belmont Oaks with the kind of late kick one expects from a European invader.

While the competition was dubious by international standards, it was solid albeit light on quantity. But Galileo’s daughter certainly was not lacking in quality. She rated kindly, last in a slow-paced in compact field, and when a confident Javier Castellano tipped out at headstretch, she whooshed on by.

She may or may not be Grade-1 class vs. older, then that’s what weight concessions are for. The good news is that Keeneland’s coveted Queen Elizabeth II comes up in three weeks, but add four more and it’s Breeders’ Cup Saturday, excellent timing. “She’ll tell us,” Delacour said.

Saving the Best for Last

Contrary to what you may think, I didn’t bury the lead, just took time to consider how best to express my admiration for Starship Jubilee, defending Canadian Horse of the Year and certain repeater, whatever happens between the Woodbine Mile and November’s first Saturday.

This in no way is to throw shade on a female win machine such as the Wonder from Down Under, retired Australian champion Winx. How can you do that and still be considered sane?

Recall that Winx won 33 consecutive races over a five-year period, including a world-record 25 Group 1s, from 6-1/2 furlongs to a mile and three-eighths.

For three straight years she was ranked as the world’s top-ranked turf horse and co-ranked as the world’s top filly or mare while earning $26 million, Australian.

The quality of the competition and provincial nature of her campaign are nits to pick at, but she had me at 33 straight.

In this side of the ocean there was the Queen of the Southwest, Peppers Pride. She never ventured outside the borders of New Mexico, but undefeated is as undefeated does. No, she wasn’t Personal Ensign, then how many are?

Peppers Pride succumbed to laminitis exactly one year ago today. The record shows that she went 19-for-19. Fittingly, she was a daughter of Desert God and her grandmother was Blush With Pride. If names matter, then destiny was thrust upon her.

Sadly, it’s exactly one year to the day that Peppers Pride was euthanized due to complications from laminitis.

In taking the Woodbine Mile Saturday in Toronto, defeating several multiple stakes winning males including Grade 1 dual-surface Preakness winner War of Will, Starship Jubilee was winning her 19th race from 38 starts.

Further, she is the first horse to win both the Woodbine Mile and 10-furlong E.P. Taylor in successive years. Numerologists will note win #19 came on the 19th day of the month.

Karma and coincidence notwithstanding, the victory won her a free ride into the Breeders’ Cup Mile. Whether she runs or not, whether she wins or not, the seven-year-old rags-to-riches mare will continue enjoying legendary status in her homeland.

Starship Jubilee is a daughter of the sire Indy Wind who stands in Florida for $2,000. And, as everyone knows, she was a $16,000 claim by trainer Kevin Attard and his father, well respected horseman Tino Attard.

After compiling a laudable winning record, she was offered for sale for $34,000 but there were no takers. Once she became a prolific winner, she was consigned again three years later but the $425,000 reserve price was not attained.

According to Equibase, she was originally consigned for $6,500 in 2014. Following that second failed auction bid, the Attards sold the mare privately to current owners Blue Heaven Farm.

Yesterday’s victory put Starship Jubilee over the $2 million earnings mark she became only the third female to win the Woodbine Mile, the last one being Tepin four years ago.

Kevin Attard was emotional after the win, telling a national television audience that it’s “an unbelievable feeling,” and gratifying.

“This mare doesn’t get the respect she deserves,” he explained. “She’s a winner of 19 races out of 38 starts. “I was really disappointed to see her at 6-1 on the board … just kind of forgotten about. Time after time, she comes up and proves she’s a top horse in North America.” 

Five for six this year, ‘Starship’ was laying in wait, positioned nicely by rider Justin Stein behind a solid pace as the field passed three-quarters in 1:09.12. Stein, who returned from a three-year retirement in 2019, warmed up for the ‘Mile’ by winning six races Friday.

Stein and the mare was among horses through the turn but found a seam soon after straightening away. The mare did the rest with a quick, strong turn of foot. She has won going farther but actually might prefer the faster pace of a one-turn mile.

“I waited for a chance to tip her out and ask her to run,” said Stein. “She’s so honest and wants to win more than anybody else out there. I watched her replays, she’s just gritty. She just waited for her cue and took off like a scalded cat.”

The final time of 1:32.06 over a firm course was .31 of a second off Wise Dan’s course record. 

“It’s a special feeling to know that this race has produced so many horses that have gone on to win the Breeders’ Cup,” said Attard, “so I’m really ecstatic right now and that’s somewhere we’ve been aiming to go to all year long. This is just one step closer.”

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94 Responses

  1. Good reading, JP, and that Euro shipper yesterday at Belmont really did look ‘push button’ for Javier. Pepper’s Pride foaled a yearling named American Pepper (American Pharoah). Zayat Stables not invoved. Chapter 7 filing Sept. 8th in NJ. Really enjoyed your “This One is for The Ladies.”

    1. I had fun writing it, C. Just all came together, starting with that Racing Post story and the amazing Starship Jubilee. Thanks for the props…

  2. Nice article, JP. I confess to a bias- I almost always root for the females when then race against males. There is something about the good race fillies/mares, a kind of focus or seriousness of purpose, that I just love.

    1. You would have loved Ruffian. I read that when she came out of surgery she fought and reinjured herself causing her demise. She was a once-in-a-generation horse and, as I am pretty sure you know, is buried in the infield at Belmont. Very large horse, too. I wrote a letter to her trainer and got a response. He must’ve received a lot of mail when she died. Another one that towered over her rivals was Mom’s Command. Easily captured the Filly Triple Crown. Her owner was Peter Fuller and his daughter was her rider, Abigail Fuller. She rode mostly at Suffolk Downs in Boston. Now shuttered.

      1. Ah, C? You might be a youngin’ In Bill Nack’s book on Ruffian, he said he learned about her when I called him to say there was a filly that debuted today that you might want to catch the replay, etc., etc.

        Further, I stood vigil with about a hundred other press types, literally, that night on the roof at Belmont Park for word on the surgery following her match race which of course didn’t come until morning.

        I can never forget seeing Bill Nack run across the main track and turf course at Belmont Park to get over to her on the backside. I saw her and, like everyone else who saw her race, will never forget her.

        1. For anyone who has not read about Bill Nack or his input in horseracing ,do yourself a favor and grab, or listen, to any of his works. Side question: Why is it that out of the US I rarely noticed outriders holding on to the protagonists as they approach the gate? And why are they just about always on the side of the horse and rider which is where, unfortunately, the cameras are thus preventing viewers/bettors from seeing the horse from head to tail? If jockeys are good riders why do they need outriders babysitting them, especially with older horses who usually won’t be as skittish or panicky as younger? Great, great race by that lady in the Canadian race! Going versus males
          in the B C would show how good she is but I would play safe, for now.

          1. Excellent advice to pick up anything written by Bill Nack on horse racing and other sports. One of the great wordsmiths and essayists of our time…

            It’s not the jockeys who “need” the outriders, it’s the horses, yes, mostly younger, but not always. The horse comes first.

            That “great, great race by that lady in the Canadian race” is Emma-Jane Wilson, a major rider on the circuit and a long time talent that can hold her own with any male.

            If she couldn’t, Hall of Famer Roger Attfield would not entrust her with mounts, especially a Grade 1 “win-and-in- Breeders’ Cup” Natalma Stakes.

    2. In our species, we all know women are stronger than men, at least IMO. And I don’t weight if it’s sexist or not, but I’ll keep taking the few pounds of weight allowance, too, thank you…

      1. Emma-Jayne Wilson won Saturday’s opener at WO on a 7-1 shot and then, in the third race, a 2YO stake race at 5F on inner turf, popped at 41-1. I think BitsnPieces was referring to Starship Jubilee winning WO Mile vs boys but EJW is a good rider. Remember Karen Rogers? Not around very long but saw her once in a tunnel at Big A. Unbelievably fit looking. I guess jockeys all look that way, huh?

        1. C, really do believe that pound for pound, jockeys are the best athletes, not only deciding what they need to do in a split second control control 1/2-ton beasts while doing so. Looks easy on replay, but not so much…

  3. BTW, I don’t think Enable will come for the Breeders’ Cup regardless of the Arc result, but if she did I think it would be in the Turf, which she won in 2018. The filly Magical, who was 2nd to Enable that year, just beat Ghaiyyath in the Irish Champion stakes (a WAYI race for the Turf).

    1. Glee, I should have remembered that for the weekend piece. I saw the race and to stalk a brilliant undefeated male the entire way, catch him, and hold off the others, was one of the European Performances of the Year…

      And, as stated, believe there’s a better chance she would come if she didn’t win the Arc and comes out of the race in good order…

      1. Are you referring to the Irish Champion? I watched it, alone in front of my computer, cheering like crazy! In a way the tactics were similar to the Woodbine Mile- stick right next to the main rival early, show the better turn of foot late.

  4. Don’t know why it did not show but I mentioned Congrats to the Asmussen clan, father, sons and grandson for Steve’s 9000 win with the former New Jersey staple Stewart Elliott on the saddle. A real Family Affair!

  5. C,sharp as a blade! Yes,I was pointing to the horse but Ms Wilson has been riding well in Canada just as C.Sutherland did when she was riding full time ,but honestly,neither needs to be compared to Julie K or even Rosie K who in my opinion she quit too soon.Rosie could have had more success if she stayed a year or two. Some believe that she was superior to Julie. I won’t take sides on that because Rosie was really hot for a few short years. My hat off to both athletes.Ps: Hinojosa was the oldest jock I ever saw,,at Delaware.

    1. Rosie v Julie is like a Mantle-Mays argument, both great. Rose was great; smart, hands and heels type. But Julie strong like bull and was the complete package. Would have been honored for either to ride a horse I owned…

  6. You reminded me of Asmussen trained filly, Untappable. Ridden by Rosie to major wins including Breeders’ Cup Distaff and Kentucky Oaks. As soon as Rosie won BC she announced her retirement. She was pregnant and is married to trainer, Joe Sharp. Untappable was bred to Frankel and Gunrunner. Gunrunner foal born in 2019 so watch for this one. Julie was very good on turf as I recall. She is the only female rider enshrined in Thoroughbred HOF in Saratoga.

    1. I believe that Rosie K did come back after the happy event winning just as well as before but she stopped a few months later. Since Family Comes First,x many responsible people,I hope that their training has been at least half as successful and worthwhile as her riding had been. Who’s the best female riding today in a major,top 15 track? Hmmnn !

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