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17 Wins In A Row Streak Ends in B.C. Classic

By Mr Prospector October 08 2010

Walt Disney once popularized a children's song, "It's a small world (after all)."  A lot of turf writers and commentators associated with thoroughbred horse racing do not believe in small worlds.  I do!  It's shrinking and shriveling all the time.

I have never been the silent kind.  Have witnessed much in the near 10 decades I have been hanging around in this currently wobbly world.  Constantly I rattle the nerves of scribes.  So many do half the job they are getting a paycheck to do.  Many have a major problem: They take shorts cuts and often do not check all the facts.  I never fail to point out what they are missing or forgetting.  Most I'll tell you don't like it.

Admittedly the topic I'm to touch on is just one man's opinion but it should be said.  Horse racing writers in the U.S.A. pay absolutely no attention to what happens around the world at the many major racing centers, that have turned the so-called "Sport of Kings," into a truly international spectacle.  I say so-called, because here, almost any Tom, Dick, Harry, Jane or Mabel, can own and race a horse.  I bring this up in the wake of the magnificent race mare Zenyatta winning her 17th consecutive race on Sunday at Hollywood Park by 1/2 a length in the G-II Vanity Handicap.  Every writer of the equine sport is blathering it's a new all-time record in........get this.......non-restricted competition.

Now I could get technical and say the Vanity Handicap is a restricted race.  It is restricted to fillies and mares but prefer to be a silent witness (more on this name later) at this point. What has been most annoying in the run-up up to the Vanity?  Listening and reading to all the palaver.  The endless clamoring concerning the previous record holders along with Zenyatta's 16 wins in a row along being Citation, Cigar and something called Mister Frisky. It got downright boring.  I looked, read and listened but nowhere was the name Ribot (GB) ever mentioned.  Modern era was tossed around like a caesar's salad, which by the way I have never eaten.  The only thing green I like is money and envy.

Ribot (GB) raced in the modern era didn't he?  Any astute race-goer knows the magnificent Ribot (GB) won all his 16 starts in Europe, the last coming July 22 1956 in the King George IV-Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot.  U.S. pundits have totally ignored his feat.  Ribot (GB) may not have been the most successful of sires in North America, though he did sire a Belmont Stakes winner in Arts and Letters, but to ignore him?  The horse, a champion sire in Europe, was no flop. On the other hand Citation, a Triple Crown winner, in actuality was a near dud in the breeding shed and Cigar? Well, his career went up in smoke due to total infertility.  At least his owners collected $25M insurance when a dollar was worth a dollar.  Mister Frisky? The "phenom" from Puerto Rico won 16 in a row but have you heard of him and any accomplishments at stud?

Lets talk about an Australian-bred gelding named Silent Witness.  Of course no one has ever heard of him up here.  This son of El Moxie rattled off 17 wins in a row from 2002 to 2007 while competing in Hong Kong and according to Wikipedia posted 8 wins in G-I races.  Not exactly bush league events, huh? Has there been mention of him in any story I've read?  In any language the answer: A definitive no.  Last seen, Silent Witness was enjoying the fruits of a well-earned retirement in his home country.  I have read a lot of what racing scribes pen, but they are all silent witnesses as if Hong Kong racing was nonexistent and meaningless.  Believe me, it isn't!  Tell that to Hong Kong racing crowds that bet more in one afternoon than often is wagered an entire race meeting up here.

When one considers how well horses from Europe compete in the U.S.A. and South America ignoring foreign representation is ludicrous and now with the advent of synthetic racing surfaces in the Americas the overseas invasion figures to grow from all corners. The problem: Far too many involved in the racing industry in the U.S.A. originally frowned upon the success horses from overseas enjoy on our shores.  I well remember the screams unleashed by some saying that "dirt" was the American way of racing.

Yeah sure, how times have changed!

About the Author

Mr Prospector
Age 78, born in Leicester, England. Took in first horse race - the 1939 Epsom Derby won by Blue Peter (E. Smith), also the 1946 Oaks, won if memory serves by Steady Aim (H. Wragg). Came to the U.S. with limited education (dropped out at 15 to work in England). Talked my way into numerous sportswriting / editor / column posts eventually with major newspapers; also worked at 3 racetracks in publicity; "retired" in 1986 and have been a bloodstock agent since. As a newspaper writer covered numerous major events; 19 title fights many involving the likes of Muhammed Ali (nee Cassius Clay), Sonny Liston, Dick Tiger, Gene Fullmer, Sugar Ray Robinson and the like. Various golf, tennis, football, etc. events. That's it briefly.