What an array of stakes and
talent we saw this weekend. When you have the winners of all three Triple Crown
races, and the Dubai World Cup, and the Breeders' Cup Mile and Breeders' Cup
Filly & Mare Turf, and the Florida
and Arkansas Derby winners, and the Beldame winner, not to mention one of the
greatest fillies of all time, you know you're in for a special weekend of
The Remarkable Rachel will be
discussed in our Countdown to the Cup column this week. But there was one horse
who ran last weekend who will receive little attention, and understandably so,
as he could finish no better than fourth in a grade II turf stakes. But if you
can look beyond the brilliance and true greatness of Rachel Alexandra and focus
on a horse who tries hard every race, then you might want to pay closer
attention to a 7-year-old horse, yes horse, named Cosmonaut, despite his
fourth-place finish in the Fourstardave at Saratoga Saturday.
Horses like Cosmonaut often
go overlooked, because their record is not that of a champion, and their victories
do not come with great frequency. These are the blue-collar horses who go out
race after race and run their heart out. They don't win consistently enough to
be Eclipse contenders or possess the brilliance of the sport's major stars, but
they quietly build up an impressive record over the years, with each victory
and placing coming from the gut.
Their past performance lines
are not scrutinized over, so their accomplishments normally go overlooked. One
might look at Cosmonaut's record and ask, "How did this horse manage to earn
almost $1.4 million?
Well, here's how he did it.
Since being put on the grass for good by trainer Phil Serpe in July 2006, he's
run 22 consecutive races without finishing worse than fifth. In 18 of them, he
finished fourth or better. Of those 22 races, 19 were graded stakes and two
were listed stakes. In all, he's started 29 times on the grass and has never
finished worse than fifth, meaning he's brought back a check every time he's
run. Considering how often horses get in serious trouble on the grass that is a
remarkable record of consistency.
And he did it at 12 different
racetracks in eight states from coast to coast, ridden by nine different
jockeys, while undergoing seven trainer changes. He has finished in the money
in stakes on firm, good, yielding, and soft courses.
To demonstrate further how
tough and consistent he's been, he won the grade III Fort Marcy Stakes over a
good course at Belmont, the grade III Arlington Handicap over a good course at
Arlington, another Arlington Handicap over a soft course, the Tampa Bay Stakes
over a soft course at Tampa Bay, an allowance race over a firm course at
Keeneland, and he even won the grade III Golden Gate Fields Handicap off the
turf on a good dirt track at Golden Gate.
He was second, beaten a neck,
in the grade I Shadwell Turf Mile over a firm course at Keeneland; third,
beaten only two lengths, in the grade I Breeders' Cup Mile over a soft course
at Monmouth Park; second in yet another Arlington Handicap over a soft course; third,
beaten 1 1/4 lengths, in a fourth Arlington Handicap; second, beaten
three-quarters of a length, in the grade II Dixie Stakes over a firm course at
Pimlico; and second, beaten a half-length, in the grade III River City Handicap
at River Downs.
He was beaten three-quarters
of a length in the grade I Manhattan Handicap, 2 1/2 lengths in the grade I
Arlington Million, 4 1/4 lengths in the grade I Man o'War, 2 3/4 lengths in the
grade I Citation Handicap, three lengths in the grade I Maker's Mark Mile; two
lengths in another Shadwell Turf Mile, and 2 1/2 lengths in the grade II
Bernard Baruch Handicap.
He's earned a triple-digit
Beyer figure 17 times. Among the major stakes horses who have beaten him are
Kip Deville (by two lengths and three lengths), The Tin Man (by 2 1/2 lengths),
Better Talk Now (by three-quarters of a length), Thorn Song (by a half-length),
Gio Ponti (by 4 3/4 lengths), Ashkal
Way (by 2 3/4 lengths) and Purim (by a neck). And
he was two lengths behind Einstein in the Maker's Mark Mile. In summation,
despite the stiff competition he's faced race after race, he has been in every
race, his worst defeat being six lengths in the grade I Hollywood Turf Cup. He
has also defeated top-class horses such as Go Between, Artiste Royal, and Tam
Lin, just to name a few.
In the Fourstardave, in which
he was beaten 3 3/4 lengths, he ran hard every step of the way and simply was
outrun by faster, much younger horses. He's not a horse you tend to notice, but
it's time we recognize horses like Cosmonaut and appreciate all they give of
themselves race after race.