Any news concerning thoroughbred racing in Australia filters slowly back to the United States.
[cleeng_content id="733502936" description="Read it now!" price="0.15"]Even though the sport in Australia has stronger followings in America and England, we get little news of what happens in flat racing on the turf courses Down Under.
One of those thoroughbreds the Aussies have made sure the rest of the racing world knows about is a timber-tall and inky black filly named Black Caviar. She is 16.2 hands tall and larger than most males.
And her unbeaten 22-race winning streak can now count the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot in England as her latest success. The good Queen Elizabeth II was on hand several Saturdays past to see what all the fuss concening the ebony-colored bullet was about. It seems the race was named in honor of the Queen’s 60 years on the throne in England — thus the Diamond Jubilee celebration that has wrapped the country’s attention around everything Elizabeth.
Black Caviar had come from Australia. Come to Royal Ascot and the race meeting the Queen tries to attend every year.
The story of Black Caviar actually begins way back in Melbourne in a kindergarten classroom. Classmates from a kindergarten beginning had stayed close through the years since learning how to read and knowing their colors. They all had an interest in horses, so as time slipped past they began to pool their money and found a way to purchase a thoroughbred.
There are eight owners in all. Black Caviar’s story follows along the same lines as did America’s 2003 Kentucky Derby winner, Funny Cide . . . who was owned by Sackatoga Stable, a group of men who had been prep school classmates in New York state. That group of owners traveled to Funny Cide’s races in a yellow school bus and routinely overflowed winner’s circles when their horse won.
The group of eight Australian owners knew a little bit about bloodlines and when they saw Northern Dancer back along both her sireline and broodmare sire line they authorized the expenditure of $210,000 to purchase Black Caviar at a Melbourne yearling sale.
Before Black Caviar had undergone much training under the eyes of trainer Peter Moody, the owners assigned a daughter of one of the owners to come up with the proper color combination for the silks their horse’s jockey would carry in actual competition.. The girl liked seafood so she decided on salmon pink and a couple of black circles that were to represent caviar.
Moody brought her along at a cautious pace. The ownership was not desperate to recoup its investment in her.
She raced only twice at age two. Both races were on the grass and both were sprints of a distance less than seven furlongs.
Black Caviar won by five lengths and then won the May 2, 2009 Blue Sapphire Stakes at Caulfield by six lengths.
In her second race at age three, she stumbled at the start but managed to overcome that trouble to win by three-parts of a length.
The one-time kindergarten friends had an unbeaten filly after her four early-career races. However, the stumble had left her with an injured chest muscle, and she couldn’t race again until January. She won the Australia Stakes, making her 5-for-5. But then another injury, this time to a ligament in one leg, put her back on the mend again.
In two seasons of ‘Down Under’ racing, Black Caviar was still unbeaten. But the injuries were worrisome.
The next racing season had her competing only on the grass. And only in sprints of mostly five or six furlongs.
When she was four, Black Caviar remained healthy through an eight-race regimen that saw her win at Caulfield, Moonee Valley, Flemington, Randwick, and Doomben — all Australian tracks. Her jockey was always Luke Nolen. And she was consistently beating two interesting rivals in Hay List and Crystal Lily.
She was drawing crowds by now, including a gathering of 30,000 at Randwick in Sydney where she defeated Hay List by nearly three lengths in the T.J. Smith Stakes.
After three years of racing, she was still unbeaten in 14 tries.
The ownership decided to keep her racing as a five-year-old. When her record stood at 21 straight wins, it was thought by the Queen (after consulting with trainer Moody and the eight owners) that a race at Royal Ascot in conjunction with Elizabeth’s 60th year on the throne of England would be appropriate.
But it was going to be a 30-hour flight from Australia to England for Black Caviar. She was placed in a costly “compression suit” to help her blood circulate properly as she stood for that length of time.
Moody would discover that the 11,000-mile flight cost Black Caviar some of her edge. When she helped draw a crowd of 80,000 to Ascot on June 23, her effort in the six-furlong Diamond Jubliee Stakes became compromised by what were later described as a “grade-four tear of the quadriceps and grade-two tear of the sacroiliac.”
The soft tissue damage first visited on the initial rise of the predominantly uphill course. Black Caviar shortened her stride moving up the second rise on the turf course. It was fortunate she had a clear lead because she just lasted by a head over Moonlight Cloud with Restiadargent another neck back.
She is now receiving laser therapy every day while remaining in England under the 14-day quarantine period that is mandated before she can leave the country and return on another 30-hour flight back to Australia.
Black Caviar’s record had 22 wins in 22 starts. Her earnings had soared to $6,771,050.
The last time any thoroughbred was unbeaten in all 22
of its races was back 150 years ago. She is generally recognized as the best sprinter in the world.
Late last month, Moody had been told by chiropractors, veterinarians, and other equine specialists that she should fully recover in time. Given an extended break, her next race could be in the Patinack Farm Classic at Flemington in November. She already has two wins in the Patinack.
Ownership knows of her status as an Australian national heroine. And after she survived the twin injuries to win the Diamond Jubliee Stakes at Royal Ascot they realize nothing short of a full recovery will be necessary to return her to racing.
Australian racing has been sending a growing number of horses to this country for Breeders’ Cup events. Black Caviar never came for a sprint on the grass. And she probably won’t now that she didn’t fare well physically on the 30-hour, “compression suit” flight from Australia to England.[/cleeng_content]