Since Calabar nosed his way into my life, I've become a bit of a horse racing nerd. I watch races, I read about racehorses, I follow blogs about other ex-racehorses and how their owners are training these former high-caliber athletes. I also spend too much time on racehorse websites, which sometimes leads me down odd noodly paths.
Today was just such a day.
Sarah over at Miles On Miles posted a good look at the before and after of her boy's racing career. He, like Bar, sometimes feels his oats, but--also like Bar--does not seem to keen to go back to his former life. Oddly enough, Miles (who was Masarin) hit Golden Gate Fields the year after Bar retired. They are the same age and I'd like to think they would have been good partners in crime out there on the track. (Though Miles was a turf horse and Bar was oh so definitely not.) Miles was also a much more successful racehorse than Bar, but Bar says that's okay--they are still brothers under the soft brown hair they both wear.
After I snooped around on Equibase for Miles' record, I looked at stats and it brought to mind an interesting question. There are of course the horses ranked highest by earnings--including Curlin, Cigar and of course Zenyatta. But there are also horses ranked by number of wins. The top on that list is a horse named Time to Bid who only earned $241,247 by the time he retired in 1988, but he started 179 times! And he won 50 times, placed 2nd 33 times and 3rd 35 times--that's a 28% win percentage!
Then there's one of my other favorites, Goldikova. She is still racing. Has started 25 times, won 17, with 5 seconds and 2 thirds--a 68% win percentage. She is also the horse who inspired her groom to dash out onto the track after one of her more exciting wins.
I know some of you are not race fans but trust me when I tell you there are good people in the business, people who take incredibly good care of their horses. And--for the most part--these horses really love what they do.
So what is more impressive? A horse that wins a lot of money or a horse that can stay healthy and race longer? The real money, of course, is in the breeding, so these days it is better to retire a good horse than to risk injury (or worse) by continuing to run them. But a tiny part of me is impressed by a horse like Goldikova who keeps coming out, keeps running, and keeps winning. Okay, more than a tiny part. The trick is balancing that decision and I am exceedingly glad that will probably never be a choice I have to make.