The Fans Have Spoken

Horse (First-place votes)                Points

1 -- Zenyatta  (89)                         1,436
2 -- Ruffian  (49)                           1,404
3 -- Personal Ensign  (10)                952
4 -- Rachel Alexandra  (10)              787
5 -- Lady’s Secret  (9)                      724
6 -- Genuine Risk  (5)                      587
7 -- Azeri  (1)                                   398
8 -- Go For Wand                            376
9 -- Shuvee  (2)                               303
10 - Rags to Riches                         284
11 - Bayakoa                                   250
12 - Ta Wee  (3)                              234
13 - Winning Colors  (2)                  217
14 - Princess Rooney  (1)               182
15 - Serena’s Song                         111
16 - Gallant Bloom                          104
16 - Gamely                                    104
18 - Dance Smartly                           92
19 - Paseana                                    87
20 - Dark Mirage                              73
20 - Inside Information                      73  
22 - Affectionately                            67
23 - Landaluce                                 62
24 - Davona Dale                             59
25 - My Juliet                                    49
26 - Susan’s Girl                              47
27 - Peppers Pride                          44
28 - Tosmah                                    36
29 - Glorious Song                          34
30 - Chris Evert                               31
30 - Cicada                                     31
32 - Althea                                      24
32 - Bold n’Determined                   24
33 - Silverbulletday                         22
34 - Eight Belles                              21
34 - Mom’s Command                     21
36 - Desert Vixen                            18
37 - Melair                                      17
38 - Lakeway                                 16
39 - Safely Kept                             11
39 - Sky Beauty                             11
41 - Numbered Account  (1)          10
41 - Xtra Heat                                10

Also receiving votes:   Ashado, Beautiful Pleasure, Blushing K.D., Bowl of Flowers, Caesar’s Wish, Dainty Dotsie, Flanders, Ginger Punch, Heavenly Prize, Hollywood Wildcat, Life is Sweet, Life’s Magic, Manistique, Moccasin, Old Hat, Optimistic Gal, Pine Island, Pine Tree Lane, Priceless Gem, Primonetta, Princessnesian, Riboletta, Sharp Cat, Straight Deal, St. Trinians, Summer Guest, Take Charge Lady, Tizna, Terlingua, What a Summer

Pre-Breeders’ Cup Era (1960-83)

1 -- Ruffian                                   1,404

2 -- Genuine Risk                            587

3 -- Shuvee                                     303
4 -- Ta Wee                                    234
5 -- Gallant Bloom                           104
5 -- Gamely                                     104
7 -- Dark Mirage                               73
8 -- Affectionately                             67
9 -- Landaluce                                  62
10 - Davona Dale                            59
11 - My Juliet                                   49
12 - Susan’s Girl                               47
13 - Tosmah                                     36
14 - Glorious Song                            34
15 - Chris Evert                                 31
15 - Cicada                                       31
17 - Althea                                        24
17 - Bold n’Determined                      24
18 - Mom’s Command                        21
19 - Desert Vixen                               18
20 - Numbered Account                      10


Leave a Comment:


Zenyatta, I can surely see why she made the #1 spot on the list.

What can I say,  She is the best..

I am praying for her to reach the unimaginabe milestone in horse racing history.......20 consectutive races........That will break the glass ceiling........

21 Jul 2010 9:15 AM

Wow, that was quick, Steve!  That was likely a daunting task to decipher everyone's posts and tabulate the results - kudos to you for going through all that as well as putting up with all of it in view of some of the comments still trying to get into rabid debating.  What an awesome list of incredible females who have dominated the sport for fifty years and given us so many thrills in watching them run.  Once again, I'm grateful to you for bringing so many of them to my attention since I've only been following for the last several years.  Thanks!



21 Jul 2010 9:23 AM

Isn't Ruffian #1 on the Pre-Breeders' Cup Era list?  Honestly, I'm a huge Zenyatta fan, but I think I'd still have Ruffian ahead of her overall.

21 Jul 2010 9:44 AM

Desert Vixen #36 ... No!!!!!

21 Jul 2010 9:52 AM

I guess as a follow up the fans could now vote for the best thoroughbred blogger...but is there really any doubt? STEVE HASKIN in a romp!

21 Jul 2010 9:57 AM

Rachel Alexandra is ranked way too high.  To this day, tell me who she has beaten?  The names of the races she won sound impressive on paper, but go back and look at the competition.  This horse is vastly overrated by almost everyone, except me.  I didn't have her in my top 10.

21 Jul 2010 10:13 AM

Having Zenyatta top the list discredits the whole thing. Obviously people were not being objective.

21 Jul 2010 10:16 AM

Sadly, I missed my chance to vote here. I don't know who I would have voted for, but I notice a clear recency bias in the results. But it will always be thus in polls of general opinion. On another note, I'm going on vacation to San Diego tomorrow. We'll be gone a week. I might still be ale to post, but I cannot guarantee it.

21 Jul 2010 10:17 AM

Numbered Account did receive a first place vote (not noted on the tabulation).

21 Jul 2010 10:20 AM

These are fun, but I think time and a removal of ourselves from the emotions of the moment will prove a better list. Seeing Zentatta, RA, it even Rags to Riches on there at those levels shows we might have a bias based on time and memory (or lack of). Like the Baseball Hall of Fame, I think the list will be more accurate when including female horses who have been retired for a period of years.

21 Jul 2010 10:26 AM

As I read down through the list I got chills thinking of all these great racing fillies. Difficult to choose one over the other but I think too Zenyatta deserves the top spot.....her record speaks for itself.  

21 Jul 2010 10:32 AM

Take Charge Lady? St. Trinians? Terlingua? Pine Tree Lane? Really?

21 Jul 2010 10:41 AM

Steve, I think overall the fans got it right... these are all beautiful, powerful fillies/mares! I think I speak for many of your fans (including myself) in that I am very curious about your personal top 10 distaff...

21 Jul 2010 10:54 AM

I too feel that Zenyatta deserves the top spot.  Hard to beat an undefeated record.  Each time a horse sets foot on the track there is a good possibility of losing. Being the first mare to win the Breeders Cup Classic is quite and accomplishment too.  Only a complete biased person would not give her the credit that is due. I loved Ruffian too but sadly her life ended way to soon.  

21 Jul 2010 11:01 AM
Dr Drunkinbum


   Great list that you and your assistants tabulated staying up into the wee hours of the night. Do you have a personal top ten, in order list? Just like the fans list, it doesn't have to be objective.

21 Jul 2010 11:23 AM
Tony stabile

We all have an opinion, that's what makes the world, and the game of Thoroughbred racing so interesting.Unfortunately alot of hype and opinion, is based on a " what have you done for me lately " basis. These fillies and mares were the best, no doubt. To pick a top 10 is almost impossible, yet we all think ours is the accurate one ! Good job Steve in coordinating this and bringing back alot of memories. As I was thinking about these great horses, not only was I visualizing their races, but the things that were going on in my life at the same time.Like they say- Those were the days .

21 Jul 2010 11:26 AM

I was actually surprised to see it was that close.

It shouldn't have been.

Nothing, and mean nothing compares to a horse that is perfect, winning 17 in a row, the last 15 races in either Grade 1 or 2 races, has won 7 straight Grade 1 races, has beaten the winners of 45 Grade 1 races and 87 stakes overall, has beaten five divisional champions, four Eclipse Award Champions, two Breeders' Cup Distaff Champions, has carried the weight of 129 lbs. twice and 128 lbs. twice, has virtually sent the best of her gender either into retirement  or into hiding, has the largest Facebook family in the world, is considered the greatest female racehorse racing today by even the English, has beasten three horses in last fall's Classic that recently has just won three of racing's most presitges races-Hollywood Gold Cup, The Eclipse, and the Man O'War-whom previous winners include a virtual who's who in horseracing such as Seabiscuit, Citation, Swaps, Affirmed, Cigar, Pebbles, Mill Reef, Dancing Brave, Sea The Stars, and Secretariat, and has a personality that everyone adores.

Eclipse Award winning writer Joe Drape of the New York Times has said he has been looking for over 30 years and has found "The Perfect Racehorse" - check it out on youtube.

Claire Novak of ESPN has said that Zenyatta is "The Horse of the Century".

Next stop - win her ramining races and break that glass ceiling for American female racehorses and enter into the top ten of the greatest American racehores of all times.

Go Zenyatta!

21 Jul 2010 11:36 AM
Steve Haskin

Tony, I agree with you. The number of first place votes for Zenyatta compared to Ruffian and some other fillies surprised me. I realize this poll is geared toward fans who did not see the greats of the 60s and 70s, but overall, I thought they did well.

As you said, this was geared more to evoke memories for some and enlighten others. But the poll sort of took off so I went with it.

Dr. D, yeah, my assistants. Good one.

I'm actually not big on top 10 lists myself and this was geared more toward the fan. Also, with Zenyatta and Rachel still racing, the public perception of them could change by the end of the year. If Zenyatta were to win the Classic again or another big race on dirt, I would have to rank her No. 1.

But as of right now, I still would rank Ruffian No. 1 and perhaps Lady's Secret #2, followed by Zenyatta, Personal Ensign, Rachel Alexandra (she also would move way up with another big win vs. males), Gallant Bloom, Shuvee, Ta Wee, Dark Mirage, and Gamely.

Gallant Bloom is the only filly in the Top 20 to have beaten two other fillies in the Top 20 -- Shuvee (beat her 3 out of 4) and Gamely (beat her 7 lengths), both of whom are in the Hall of Fame. And she did it during a 12-race winning streak.

21 Jul 2010 11:40 AM

Afleetalexforever - two times Zenyatta was tested? Really? What was Ginger Punch, chopped liver? St. Trinians?

HOY was stolen from her, twice! Durlin was ALL OUT to beat Wanderin' Boy (rip!), for goodness sakes, and couldn't even win the BC Classic (beaten by Tiago!)

YOU go out there and train a horse to 17 winning races, several grade 1s, including the BC Classic, and then you can add your stupid little asterisk. What a crock...

21 Jul 2010 11:42 AM

I see where Zenyatta's first place votes are almost as much as all of the other first place votes put together.

21 Jul 2010 11:43 AM

Thanks, Steve. This was fun and I hope the idea achieved what you envisioned. It certainly was educational for me.

I disagree with putting Zenytta on top, but it's a subjective poll, and Rachel would have been ahead of her anyway if I had included both of them on my list, which I didn't because they're still active. And even then, Ruffian and Lady's Secret would have still been 1-2 for me.

I love Zenyatta but I've found over the past several months an almost hysteria type allegiance to her which I don't believe is justified and in some respects has been unfair, particularly to Rachel Alexandra.

But as you said, "The Fans Have Spoken" so I'll leave it at that.

21 Jul 2010 11:46 AM

I did not personally vote in this poll, as I assumed it would be a Zenyatta/Rachel Alexandra free for all (and to be honest I am surprised there were not a flurry for votes for La Ville Rouge solely because she was the dam of Barbaro), but I am extremely surprised that the ill-fated Lamb Chop did not receive any votes.

While I was not expecting for Lamb Chop to be in the top ten, I am truly shocked that she did not even make the "also receiving votes category."

I would also like to acknowledge whoever voted for Caesar's Wish and Dainty Dotsie. I consider myself a student of the breed, but I unfortunately was not familiar with these names and especially was unaware of the talent behind the short-lived career of Caesar's Wish. My heart is both saddened and uplifted in learning of this filly.

It is nice to see a mention of overlooked and/or forgotten heroes, and not just votes for the flavor of the week.

21 Jul 2010 11:47 AM

Has anybody sent these results to that radio talk show host that blew up when a guest suggested to him that Zenyatta is the greatest female racehorse of all time?

21 Jul 2010 11:47 AM
Boss Mare

It will be interesting to see how the "now" girls will stand the test of time. Over 30 years ago this month RUFFIAN left us all in tears yet her flame has never diminished. As stated previously "the best filly ever to look through a bridle."

21 Jul 2010 11:50 AM
Steve Haskin

I wish people would stop asking why I neglected to have horses like Goldikova, Zarkava, and Ouija Board like it was some major oversight. I don't know else to say that grass horses ar not included other than the numerous ways I've already said it. I'm surprised so many people either did not read the text of this or simply ignored it. Most of them not only question why grass horses are not included, but European grass horses.

21 Jul 2010 11:51 AM

Gallant Bloom is underrated for sure, she actually beat Shuvee 4 times in 5 tries.

21 Jul 2010 11:53 AM

Why is it that some people are just so bitter and angry at Zenyatta?

Reading some of these posts that seem apologetic that Zenyatta won is disturbing.

Folks, no more bitterness, anger, and hatred at this horse.

Enjoy Zenyatta for what she is - the greatest American female racehorse of all time.

21 Jul 2010 11:59 AM

Who has Rachel beaten?  How many horses has she crushed that have then gone on to win a Grade 1 race?  Summer Bird ring any bells?  Mine That Bird?  Macho Again?  I'm not saying you have to believe she's one of the best, but to question the strength of the competition she's faced (particularly last year) shows real prejudice.

21 Jul 2010 12:00 PM

Ruffian was perfect. She broke down and I really don't get how that can be held against her when she was in front of the Derby winner at every point until she broke down.

How people still can call RA overrated is beyond me. Like some like to point out about Ruffian, she competed against a relitively weak class of 3yr old fillies, but like Ruffian she also ran them into the ground. She broke records, then not only proved she could run well against the clock, but againt the best males in the nation. She did that three times, never once tasting defeat.

I also agree with the recency bias. Zenyatta is great and deserves to be top ten, but if you base it off the competition beaten, travel, brilliance, longevity, accomplishment, then there are so many more who deserve to be higher. I realize some do it based on favoritism and that is ok, but for the ones who do base it off of the other things I just listed I don't get it.

The same goes for RA too. Both could very well become the top horse, but as of now I really don't get it.

21 Jul 2010 12:00 PM
Steve Haskin

You're right, Brian, I forgot about the allowance race. Thanks.

21 Jul 2010 12:05 PM
Mike S

Having ZENYATTA at number one shows that this is a legitimate poll. She is The Queen of Racing, that's all.

PEPPER'S PRIDE, however, should not be #27. In fact, she should not have made the list at all. It goes to show you that a few people are confused about "greatness" and think that because she was a nice filly that won a bunch of restricted races that it somehow makes her "great." It doesn't.

21 Jul 2010 12:14 PM

She may have been born on April Fools Day, but the joke was on "all would-be buyers" who let Zenyatta get away for $60,000 at the 2005 Keeneland September Yearling sale.

21 Jul 2010 12:20 PM

Thank you, Mr. Haskin, for this poll. I'd forgotten some of these wonderful fillies and mares. Reading their names brought me much pleasure. Zenyatta and Ruffian - it doesn't get much better than these two. But I love them all.

21 Jul 2010 12:24 PM

sceptre- I loved Numbered Account.  I wish she didn't inherit bad legs from her sire.  When she was right she was devastating.  I think I read that she closed in 10 flat in a 7 furlong race one time.  

21 Jul 2010 12:24 PM
Judy Loves Zenyatta ~ California

ZENYATTA WON ANOTHER RACE!! Praise the Lord! :-)

Thank you to the "posters" who expressed my feelings better than I could (sodapopkid, Jodie, Carmel, John (21 Jul 2010 11:36 AM).

She is perfect, stop the bashing!!

I was also pleased to see RAGS TO RICHES made it to the top ten - #10.

21 Jul 2010 12:28 PM

Has everyone forgot that Zenyatta beat all the male horses that were good enough to go in the BCC last year, that RA beat,  Zen beat them all in the BCC..........

How much more classy can a mare be than 17-0?  Not much more can she??

Going for 18 next, she will be tied with Eclipse himself then..

You have heard of him havent you??   Like in the Eclipse Awards..get the picture?

21 Jul 2010 12:33 PM

Many fault the Mosses for what has been called "an uninspiring career". But, I look at it differently. How they & J. Sherrifs have managed her career has allowed her to stay in top condition, sound & healthy. It is very probable that this meticulous management of her career is the very reason we all have her to enjoy as a 6 yr. old. How many top of the top horses still run, these days, at the age of 6? None,except Zenyatta. We should be looking at the glass as completely full instead of half empty. We should be commending the Mosses & John Sherriffs for their brilliant management of her career. Would you rather see her dragged hither & yon, from one track to another all over the country & come to within a breath of running her into the ground as Rachel came very close to? Rachel's 2009 campaign very nearly destroyed her. The Mosses & John would never allow that to happen to Zenyatta. She is probably one of the happiest horses on the planet... because they love her, truly love her & every  decision they make for her is made with that love first & foremost. They are sharing her with us as a 4 yr old, a five yr. old & a six yr. old. What she is doing for racing, still racing at the level she has mantained, is immeasureable on so many levels. When have we seen the like of a horse like Zenyatta before? Are we likely to see a horse like her, with her brilliance & her personality again? I think we all know the answer is a resounding no. It is a thrill wherever she shows up, in whatever race she races in.


21 Jul 2010 12:35 PM

Xtra Heat behind Eight Belles and Rags to Riches?

These polls are great fun.

21 Jul 2010 12:39 PM

Good poll.  I like the result.  Zenyatta has a late stride like no other.

21 Jul 2010 12:39 PM

I wasn't the one who gave her a first place vote though.  

21 Jul 2010 12:43 PM


Many (not all) eastern-based individuals have a a bias toward west coast racing.

This discrimination goes back hundreds of years.

Like "Hall of Fame" trainer Charles Whittingham once said:

"The east thinks we're still out here fighting the indians."

Discrimination comes in all forms. The owner of War Admiral was "the perfect example" of discrimination. We all know what the end result was there.

Zenyatta will be discriminated against your whole lifetime, James.

It's been going on "forever" in horse racing.

In the court of "Public Opinion" (which is all that matters), Zenyatta blows away "all".

James, "Discrimination hates Public Opinion"

21 Jul 2010 12:47 PM

I don't understand how someone could knock Pepper's Pride. She won 19 races in a row. She didn't know that they were restricted races. She showed up each and every time and WON each and every time. Does any horse know what kind of race it is participating in? I very much doubt it. I can't understand how some small minded people can fail to give an animal it's due. Prejudice like this is ridiculous. Pepper's Pride indeed deserves her spot on this poll!

21 Jul 2010 12:54 PM

Thank you, Mr. Haskin, for conducting this poll.  Zenyatta is and should be #1.  She is the Queen of racing.  

21 Jul 2010 12:56 PM

I woke up this morning with no phone or Internet service. Panic!!! Thankfully, a technician came really quickly, fixed the problem and I was able to connect to this blog and view the results.

Thank you for providing the fans with a virtual ballot and for tabulating the votes (no easy task!).

This exercise taught me 2 things:

1) I know even less than I thought.

2) I have a lot more reading to do.

Besides demonstrating my ignorance, the blog was really interesting. Seeing how the more knowledgeable people (you know who you are) rated all these wonderful fillies/mares was an education in itself.

All in all, I would say that this was a lot of fun and an absolute success, as it got many people to participate, comment and cast their vote. Bravo Mr. Haskin!!!

21 Jul 2010 1:11 PM

ColetteMarie : Very well said, the things that the "others" refused to admit.  There are fans who doesn't understand the horses, they just want to see races, regardless of what it does to the horses.  We need those fans too for their money but hopefully they don't become owners.

I too don't get why people are so mad when Zenyatta wins anything or any positive mention of Zenyatta.  This is a fan vote but between Zenyatta and Rachel, Zenyatta has accomplished more year after year and deserves more to be compared with these past great fillies in my opinion.  Rachel did an extraordinary feat last year but one year doesn't translate to greatness IMO.  Specially when she's not run in a G1 in her 4 yr old season.

As I said in the other blog, Ruffian and Zenyatta are legacies in their own right, they lived in different worlds but they are both great horses, horses that will forever be remembered in the world of horse racing.  The only advantage that Zenyatta has is that she was able run against males and beat them at 1 1/4.  Racing against males are different in this era compared to the past, so it's really hard to compare them.

21 Jul 2010 1:15 PM

Agree Zenyatta # 1

But no mention to Busher, Gallorette, Regret or Beldame ?

21 Jul 2010 1:18 PM
Lindsey S

Where would be a good place to find out more about Caesar's Wish?  I had never heard of her.  I did some Google searching, but didn't come up with much except a brief mention of her race record, and about a stakes race named after her.  I also couldn't find anything of note on  My interest is peaked now!

21 Jul 2010 1:31 PM
Dog Doc

Hey Steve,

You questioned why people continued asking about the European and other grass horses. I think it's because they don't comprehend what they're reading, or not paying attention.

One thing that amazes me is that people are almost ready to rip someone's head off because they thought one wonderful filly might have been(or is without doubt) better than another. I can't believe some of the statements that this filly or that filly shouldn't even be mentioned with good horses.

I guess that's why we all get along so well together.  

Thanks again.

21 Jul 2010 1:37 PM

PLEASE people. Do not let this blog degenerate into a RA/Zen slugfest. There is nothing left to be said on that subject that hasn't already been posted and repeated over and over again hundreds of times. ENOUGH!!!

21 Jul 2010 1:42 PM
Kit J

"The Fans Have Spoken"

That should answer it all. This was a FAN poll. Some of us may have seen all or most of these run in person or on TV at the time they actually ran. Still it's a personal choice, a FAN poll.

Pretty easy to see who has the fan's hearts.

Not my number one pick but enough people picked her. Get over it folks, support the horses you love but don't try to trash the ones that others love. You have your reasons and others have theirs.

Even though there are people who comment on here who have 'blogs', remember ANYONE can blog now days, that doesn't make you an expert, racing historian or turf writer.

21 Jul 2010 1:47 PM
Richard Patrick

I love Zenyatta.  I love to watch her run. A tremendous race horse.   BUT, if you rank Zenyatta high, you have to throw in Ouija Board.  They both race(d) on a different surface than the others.  Zenyatta is a specialist - save for two races in Arkansas.  We all want to see her on many tracks, taking on the best competition wherever it is -- like Rachel last year, Alysheba, and Cigar. Only then she can be placed at the top.  

21 Jul 2010 1:50 PM

1800's- tis is about the last 50 years.  They do not qualify.

21 Jul 2010 1:55 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Collette Marie-Bravo. !!!

Dog Doc-Good one. "I guess that's why we all get along so well together."

Zookeeper-Me too.

21 Jul 2010 1:56 PM

The fire that people are still showing over the current or very recently retired horses shows that emotion probably plays too much a factor in this list being anything too valuable. It is fun, but the comments about Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra truly get exasperating after a while, and I do think both horses deserve to be on such a list. I just think they shouldn't be considered until a period of retirement has passed and the height of the emotions are detached from the decision-making process.

21 Jul 2010 2:00 PM
Soldier Course

I hope Laura Hillenbrand sees these results. Wouldn't it be wonderful for her to write Zenyatta's story?

21 Jul 2010 2:03 PM
Soldier Course

Kit J:

Without the fans, there'd be no racing historians, experts, or turf writers, because there'd be no racing.

21 Jul 2010 2:06 PM

Ghostzapper, 89 votes and 1436 points disagree with you.  I guess you do not subscribe to the fact that the fastest horse wins.  Who really remembers how fast a horse runs if they don't win the race?

Ruffian is a good example.  Would we still think of her as one of the greatest if she did not win all of her races but ran lights out?  Don't think so!  For over 60 years, I have seen race horses that you could only dream of and believe me Zenyatta is one of the best.  

21 Jul 2010 2:14 PM

I think the voters pretty much did a great job!

Hey Steve, maybe as we draw closer to the BC you can do some great rivalries settled in the BC? I'm thinking Sunday Silence/Easy Goer...especially SS's incredibly even making it to the Derby and then that goofy stretch run...

PS If we were (I know we're not) including grass fillies, I would have to say "Dahlia" far and away one of the greatest race horses, have I seen some great horses in my life...

21 Jul 2010 2:24 PM
Kit J

Okay, then we have to throw out the horses who have only run in one state, the ones who have only run on a dry fast track.

The surfaces in California are what the people who run their horses there must deal with. Synthetics are the chosen replacement for DIRT, not for turf. The people who run there have their reasons maybe family (Bob Baffert has said so) and other ties like that. It's their home so they stay there.

This was a MANDATED change not one the horsemen chose.

I'm primarily a Winning Colors/Lady's Secret/Ruffian fan.  I love any modern day horse who has a sustained (more than one year) record of performances. But prefer horses from at least a decade ago.

There are some of the most bitter, petty fans on here. Pretty sad for racing.

I certainly appreciate everything that Steve does to make these blogs fun and interesting. This one was a stroll down memory lane Steve!

21 Jul 2010 2:33 PM
Manny the D


..."competition she (Zenyatta) has beaten, travel"

Are you kidding me?

Zenyatta has beaten the winners of 23 Grade 1 races and 43 stakes overall PRIOR to the Classic.

Zenyatta overall has beaten the winners of 45 Grade 1 races and 87 stakes overall.

By comparison Ruffian beat the winners of just 3 Grade 1 winners.

Just 3 Grade 1 winners.

Compare that with 45 Grade 1 winners.

Also, travel.

Are you kidding me?

Ruffian traveled just once outside of New York. To New Jersey of all places.

Ruffian never carried more than 122 lbs. in her life.

Would you and the reat of you people that either lie or deny the facts about Zenyatta, and other horses please acknowledge the truth.


21 Jul 2010 2:35 PM

Rachel by far was the number one in America.  Until......

Assmusen retrained her!

21 Jul 2010 2:46 PM
Steve Haskin

See, I left lm's question on here just to demonstrate what I'm talking about. And this comes right after I gave yet another explanation on this poll.

21 Jul 2010 2:58 PM

I think it is rather silly to argue over the results. A true racing fan is someone who appreciates the claimers as much as the superstars for without them the sport we all love could not survive.

21 Jul 2010 3:02 PM

I'm sorry, I like both Zenyatta and Rachel, but to say that Zenyatta has accomplished more year after year is very misleading, considering it took her until the age of 6 just to get 17 races under her belt.  And Rachel will be, if not already, back to form.  For those of you who discredit her for running in a non-graded race, please read this article.

I am not saying that Zenyatta is not great, that would be a foolish statement, but it is also a foolish statement to say that Rachel is not great as well.  And quite honestly, I think Rags to Riches should be MUCH closer to the top, she did, after all, beat the 2 time HOY at 1 1/2 miles.

21 Jul 2010 3:02 PM
Kit J

Right that's what I'm saying Soldier Course. I'm a fan myself. What I'm talking about are people who are sniping at their fellow fans for not picking THEIR favorite, who seem to feel they have a better feel for the history or performances.

I don't actually think I saw any long time horsemen respond on here, just a bunch of us fans.

21 Jul 2010 3:05 PM

WOW - what an exciting blog.  I'm thrilled with the results.  As far as the Zenyatta bashers are concerned, there have always been nay-sayers that cannot stand perfection. They like to downgrade the best because, I guess, it makes them feel important.  Think of the human athletes that get ridiculed when they are on top.  Great job, Steve, thank you.

21 Jul 2010 3:10 PM


The title is "Best fillies of THE PAST 50 YEARS". Busher, Gallorette, Regret and Beldame all raced prior to 1960. Maybe you didn't notice the title...

21 Jul 2010 3:14 PM

I was so glad to see Inside Information was rated as high as she was.

I once had a conversation about who was better - Inside Information or stablemate Heavenly Prize with Jan Rushton who exercised Heavenly Prize. I insisted Inside would beat the Prize since she had the gift of speed. Jan thought otherwise.

When Inside Information won the B.C.Distaff, I was proven correct and smiled for a week.

Thanks for the walk down memory lane.

21 Jul 2010 3:17 PM


I let it go the first time, but you've repeated the "bad legs" remark again about Numbered Account and Buckpasser. Pretty vague term-"bad legs", I'd appreciate a bit more specificity. I followed both their careers very closely-witnessed many of their races in person, and certainly visited at stud Buckpasser on numerous occasions. I really don't recall hearing/seeing/reading anything particularly untoward about Numbered Acount's legs. True, she wasn't quite as overpowering at 3, and certainly not at 4, as she was at 2. I'm sure she had her issues, but this wasn't a really unsound filly/mare. Buckpasser had numerous quarter cracks thoughout his career, and wasn't right when he competed in the 1967 Woodward. He was also a trifle back at the knees. Other than that he was, for me, the most ideal thoroughbred then through now. So, I wouldn't by any stretch characterize him as being bad-legged. Perhaps, Steve (by way of his former association with them/where he and I first met) has some access to Morning Telegraph archives realtive to this "bad-legged" Numbered Account assertion of yours...Yes, not you but I was the one who placed her first. To this day she is the most talented female I've ever seen. She was also a near tin-type of her magnificent sire.    

21 Jul 2010 3:19 PM

I wholeheartedly agree with Zenyatta and Ruffian as the top two choices.  I do wonder how such a brilliant filly as Althea didn't make it on this list or for that matter, Relaxing and Revidere either.  My favorite, Le Prevoyante is not listed as well.  She had an amazing two year old campaign.  I suppose there are too many good fillies and mares to choose from to comprise a list which will satisfy all of us.  Lucky us.

21 Jul 2010 3:23 PM

I don't recall anyone asking who the other horses beat other than Rachel.  Why is that?  Why is her competition always looked upon as the worst horses ever to race?  Did the other horses in the top 10 always beat stellar fields?  Every horse on that list has been phenomenal and won  against the horses entered.  When a horse is elected into the Hall of Fame, they don't analyze their competition.  I have heard this argument bandied about concerning Zenyatta, Ruffian, Secretariat, Big Brown but mostly about Rachel.  History only remembers their wins and their heart and courage and it doesn't disect the horses that ran against them.  That's the same argument that is used against any horse that the individual doesn't like whether it is the owner, trainer or jockey that is the reason for that bias or even the horse itself.  It is extremely unfair and petty.  Very petty to even slam a horse with the credentials that these horses have achieved.  It is also ridiculous to tell anyone that they are wrong if they don't feel the way you do.  This is based on opinion and what people feel.  There is no correct or incorrect.  EVERYONE is entitled to their opinion.  It does not damage your favorite in the least if someone doesn't agree with you.  The horses don't care and their careers are not the least bit tarnished.  Zenyatta will always be remembered for what she has achieved and so will Rachel and any of the others on this list or even the ones that aren't in the top ten.

21 Jul 2010 3:25 PM

Steve, sorry but I have to say. It is a shame how people come on here and say Rachel is not great because she lost.....she got beat by horses already in full swing of training. and she came in second barely beaten. Some of these people on here get very ridiculous in their downing of Rachel.....Secretariat lost, and he is considered the greatest. And please tell me if it s based off of being undefeated why in the world would Zenyatta be ranked higher than Personal Ensign? I think I know everyones answer and it will be the breeders cup and she beat turf horses and dirt horses on a synthetic track. I am really looking forward to the rest of RA's year.

21 Jul 2010 3:26 PM

Thank you so much for giving the opportunity for the fans to vote.  Although, I missed the privledge to vote, it is nice to see the general opinions of the public.  This also makes me appreciate all those brilliant fillies of the past.  Personally, I am a Genuine Risk/ Lady's Secret/ Winning Colors fan, but I am glad that the others got their due justice.  Perhaps you could do a top 10 list vote for the early part of the 1900s?  I would like to see Regret get some mention :).

21 Jul 2010 3:30 PM

Thank you Steve!!  I had forgotten about some of these fabulous fillies/mares.  Some of whom, I had never seen race but, I had knowledge of them.  Seeing Go For Wand, in the mix brought back those memories of the BC devastation!  After seeing my "favorite filly" breaking down, it took time before I would watch or participate in the sport.  Ironic: since I was a galloper at the time and getting ready for my jocks license!  Although, it brought up those sad feelings it also brought back many wonderful memories!

The list says it all!!!!  Zen, Zen, Zen!!!!!!!!  Love you girl, love all you girls!!!

Has anyone heard about Rags to Riches first foal??  Shouldn't she be in training by now??  I don't even know what her name is?  Just the fact that she looks just like momma!?

21 Jul 2010 3:48 PM

Shane, Rachel is not great but she is not bad either. She won prestigious races against soso competition in 2009. Truth is her hype exceeded her talent. She is a very good horse but definitely NOT GREAT!

21 Jul 2010 3:54 PM

Monica V,

Isn't it ironic that your post of 3:25PM is immediately followed by one that does exactly to Zen what you complained about re RA's competition? Sadly, if you have read all the comments regarding these two horses (on this blog and others) you must know that the garbage flies both ways. ENOUGH!!!

21 Jul 2010 4:05 PM
Johnny Rotten

Zenyatta deserves to be ranked #1 based on her record,longevity & consistency.

LDP, if you're questioning Zenyatta's brilliance,level of competition,longevity & accomplishments then you have sooo much more to learn... A LOT much more to learn.Talk about being biased?  Geez!

21 Jul 2010 4:13 PM

Wow...shocked, yet not shocked, at how high Rachel is on the list. Zenyatta has been racing more consistently (Rachel hasn't through no fault of her own) and is older so we can at least predict her place in history. She [Zenyatta] does deserve a place somewhere on the list. So glad to see Personal Ensign, Sky Beauty, Mom's Command on here as well as the horses I am not really familiar with, like Ta Wee and Bayakoa.

21 Jul 2010 4:15 PM

MonicaV makes an excellent case for, ta da, Pepper's Pride.

Anyway, the lead article in today's Bloodhorse tells a tale that those ranting about Zenyatta not racing all over the country should be chastised for in their zeal to place RA in Equine Valhalla.

21 Jul 2010 4:31 PM

How can anyone place zenyatta at the top?  She is a nice filly/mare.

It was Rachel's 2009 campaign. That placed her as Number one in the nation.

Name one filly who has ever come close to winning on 8 surfaces, in the slop, against top colts and older males.  She Broke ruffian'

record at the Mother Goose and broke the number of length she won.

Zenyatta has never and will never run in the slop.  You only need to look at the Woodward,only filly ever to win. Preakness only ever to win from 13th gate only filly in 8 decades to win, Haskell slop against older horses won by 6 lengths 1:47.2 just off track record. ky Oaks stakes record 20 1/4 lengts, Mother Goose,broke stakes record and ruffian's lead record rachel 19 1/4 .  

They are all good fillies.  in 2009 Rachel was the greatest horse in the World.

You can't take that away because she has a stupid trainer who decided she be a come from behind horse via an 8 bit.

If Assmussin leaves her alone, and if he lets Calvin rid his and her race.  She will keep winning!

21 Jul 2010 4:34 PM

Come on people! Ruffian was the best on any day. Go For Wand is to far down the list easy top 4 all-time. Rachel A is very special. Zenyetta is good but look at her times. The three queens I mentioned before have faster times and track records. Bottom line Zenyetta's racing style will get her beat by the other fillies mentioned in this post. Think about it!

21 Jul 2010 4:41 PM
Steve Haskin

Hey, guess what? This has turned into a Zenyatta -- Rachel bashing. What a surprise. This is like trying to contain a disease, but there is no serum discovered yet to combat it. All the Zenyatta boosts are fine, same with Rachel, but it seems the need to bash the other is uncontrollable.

So, although I appreciate all the discussion and the disagreements about the list, I've let this go far enough. I have another blog ready to replace this, so until it is posted go right ahead and keep spewing out the same old stale venom while you can. I simply do not have the time to police this, nor does the moderators. It's not fair to them to have to keep deleting comment after comment.

To everyone else I apologize for not being able to keep this discussion board online longer.

21 Jul 2010 4:46 PM

democraticjack- I forgot about Revidere.  Thanks for reminding me.  La Prevoyante- what a great 2 yr old campaign!

21 Jul 2010 4:50 PM

big difference in ranking between genuine risk and bold n' determined given that bnd beat her once and the owners of genuine risk ducked her another time.  i think bnd was also like 16 for 20.  one of the great underrated females of all time.

21 Jul 2010 4:54 PM


..."if it's based upon being undefeated why in the world would Zenyatta be ranked higher than Personal Ensign?"

1. Personal Ensign travelled just once outside New York once to CD to win the Distaff in a race that she was espected to win. She had previously beaten Winning Colors two races back. She was the extreme odds on favorite to win. She barely did.

2. Personal Ensign never carried the weight. Other than carrying 125 lbs. in a race a Monmouth Park, she carried nothing more than 123 lbs., sometimes less than 120 lbs.

3. Sure, Personal Ensign won a race against the males, but it didn't even come close to the field that Zenyatta beat in the Classic.

4. Most important, Personal Ensign never, and I mean never beat the winners of 45 Grade 1 races let alone 87 stakes overall.

5. Finally, I don't think that Personal Ensign is credited with any stakes or track records. Zenyatta has established 3 stakes records as well as one track record.

21 Jul 2010 4:58 PM

God knows this is NOT your fault, Mr. Haskin!!! No need to apologize.

21 Jul 2010 4:59 PM

I think those who did not see the older fillies race (and this includes me as I am young too) are of a more what have you done for me lately mentality.  Based purely on record and sheer awesomeness, though, I would have placed Ruffian and Personal Ensign at the top.  Zen and RA are great, but Ruffian was... wow.

21 Jul 2010 5:02 PM
Sharon M

Monica V, very well said!  I also don't understand why someone would bash another fan's favorites.  They are personal choices from a fans own perspective.  I love Zenyatta and absolutely agree she should be near the top of the list but I personally don't believe an undefeated record makes you the best of all time.  In the last 50 years there have been many great horses that have been defeated.  Some of these brilliant fillies and mares raced more than 17 times a year much less in a career.  Lady's Secret had 43 starts before she was 5 and won 25 of them.  She won 13 G1's, 4 of those against males.  I think one of Genuine Risk's best races was her loss in the Belmont. After that loss she won my heart for life!  Such a gutsy filly!

Manny the D, "defeated 45 G1 winners"  Really?  Are you referring to 45 different horses?  I'd be interested in seeing that list.

21 Jul 2010 5:17 PM

What fun!  In what has otherwise been a bruising week at work, this vote has been wonderful.

Ok, Steve, when you get your breath back, Top 10 Grass/Turf Fillies and Mares of the last 50 years?

Or, best Geldings to win any Triple Crown Race?

Or, best grays to race in North America?

Or, who would be faster at 100 yards in their prime, Bill Mott or Michael Matz?

Sorry - just feeling silly!  Thanks again for a fun blog!

21 Jul 2010 5:24 PM
Steve Haskin

Slee, my next blog is going to be a complete change of pace.

21 Jul 2010 5:31 PM
Meydan Rocks

Dear Mr Haskin,

Fret not. Your comments about the "noise" you hear in this classroom actually warms the cockles of my heart.

Think of us as a classroom full of first graders! Bash, my toy car is better than yours,.. boink.. back atcha.. Splat! I didn't like what you just said about my toy car...and so on and so forth- adnauseum.

And if I may add something else, the chaotic, petty, imbecilic and boisterous Zenyatta/Rachel bashing reminds me of some of the fight scenes in Asterix and Obelix, the legendary comic book series that is probably more popular in Europe that they are Stateside.

And so Mr Haskin, in closing, I say bravo for bearing with us. Kudos to you for taking our you know what.

There is one particular doodoo stirrer in our midst who bears calling out but I shall refrain from doing that.

Anytime, I read one of his unnecessary inane comments, I shake my head and say to myself, I hope Mr Haskin doesn't fire us for good.

Thanks for YOUR great work and THANKS for bearing with us.


21 Jul 2010 5:37 PM

No Flawlessly or Toussaud?   Incomplete list

21 Jul 2010 5:42 PM

No Goldikova?  Seriously?

21 Jul 2010 5:44 PM
Steve Haskin

I am putting JP's comments on here just to give everyone an idea what I'm  talking about in regard to some people either not reading the text or the numerous comments I have made over and over what this blog entailed. Either that, or some people just choose to ignore them.

Meydan Rocks, very well said.

Meydan was indeed rocking in March.

21 Jul 2010 5:56 PM

Well, Steve, It don't look as though it is any Zenyatta fans bashing anyone,,  Its the RA fans that is doing the bashing on here right now , I guess they are upset  that the poll showed Zen on top,  Well I guess this proves that this isnt a East Coast biased poll is it???  

21 Jul 2010 5:59 PM

a HA, once again we sink to the depths of "he said, she said". One thing everyone should be able to agree on, "Who is the MOST ENTERTAINING FILLY/MARE of the last 50 yrs."  Hands down, that billboard splashing hyping the LA Dodgers, dancing, prancing Queen of next year's Guinness drinking championships - Queeeeeeeen ZENYATTTTA!!!! Now go and at least have a good laugh, because we all need to take a breather and just enjoy the show.

21 Jul 2010 6:06 PM


I said for both fillies too not just Zen. I was also saying compared to the other fillies on list, not just to RA. Compare to the others on the list Zenyatta is made to look like a pampered princess. Most of these fillies continually faced the best males of their generation and were at the top, beating and duking it out with the top since they were two. Zenyatta started her career in November as a 3yr old. Compare to some of the other fillies to have raced in the last 50 years, to put her on top is silly. It's not biased, it's facts. Take Zenyatta's career and place it next to one like, Shuvee and it pales. Put it next to Lady's Secret and it pales. I have respect for her and how she has retained her unbeaten streak, but if unbeaten were the measure of everything then why are not PP and PE at the top of this list?

21 Jul 2010 6:06 PM
Zen's Auntie

Nicely stated Collette Marie. I remember making the same soapbox speech not long ago...

You too Niles

slee I do think Matz would have taken mott he was such a good show jumper he had to be fairly fit right?

Best greys - gotta go with my favorite Its a Chester NON winner in like 31 races (although placed 5 times!) but was my old local show horse in his retirement.

Thanks for the walk down the back stretch of my memory Steve!

21 Jul 2010 6:07 PM

Hey Steve,

Just wanted to say thanks for your patience with the bloggers, it's a tough crowd with the Zen/RA fanatics (myself included), I did manage to avoid commenting on Draynay on your blogs though as I promised hehe.

I was just wondering if you have a link to your blogs that I haven't found.  I see you have a section for your reports but unlike Jason where he has a link in the Breeder's Cup section for his blogs, I'm not able to find anything for your blogs.  Are you more of a reporter(writer) as oppose to Jason being a blogger(writer) ?  I just want to make sure I don't miss your new blogs, I always have to go to the "community blogs" link to find your new blogs but maybe I'm missing your main link.  

Thanks again for the wonderful stories and the excellent blogs.  Your writings are exceptional, I truly enjoy reading them.



21 Jul 2010 6:07 PM

You know, this is the kind of blog discussion that the "bigwigs" at NYRA and ESPN and ABC and NTRA really need to read!

No fan support indeed!  No knowledgeable fans?  No passion?  No love of the sport?  Open your eyes bigwigs - we're out here!

And Saratoga opens in less than 48 still my heart!

21 Jul 2010 6:13 PM


Many horses she beat were way way way past their prime or way way way out of their element. GP was beaten by her on dirt, but honestly what other big time G1 dirt horse has she beaten over a traditional dirt surface? It is much easier to win, not saying it's a garuntee, when the competition either hates or only tolerates the surface that you relish.

Also there is more than just Ruffian. Why not look at Gallant Bloom, Shuvee, Lady's Secret and others that went everywhere and faced everything. LS was not called the Iron Lady for nothing. Shuvee beat males in the JCGC at 2miles and Gallant Bloom beat Shuvee 4 times. These horses accomplished much more and are rated under her. It doesn't make sense and is puzzling.

21 Jul 2010 6:15 PM
Manny the D

Sharon M,

It was the completion of a thought that started with...

"Zenyatta has beaten the winners of 23 Grade 1 races and 43 stakes overall PRIOR to the Classic.

Zenyatta overall has beaten the winners of 45 Grade 1 races and 87 stakes overall.

By comparison Ruffian beat the winners of just 3 Grade 1 winners.

Just 3 Grade 1 winners.

Compare that to 45 Grade 1 winners."

The thought is the comparison of Zenyatta's conquest of the winners of 45 Grade 1 races as opposed to Ruffian's conquest of the winners of just 3 Grade 1 races...

The last two sentences of the thought were just phrases that completed the original thought.

Again, the big picture is that Zenyatta was truly tested in that she beat the winners of 45 Grade 1 races. Ruffian, on the other hand, wasn't nearly as tested as in defeating the winners of just 3 Grade 1 races.

I hope this clarifies that somewhat.

21 Jul 2010 6:20 PM

Steve, I am well pleased with the list.  The fans spoke and you tabulated.........What?  the Ra fans are upset because the fans didnt vote their way.  Steve offered everyone the same thing, IT's not Steve's or Zenyatta's fault that more people voted for her  for #1 than RA or anyone else........This is fair and balanced.  

Wonderful job, Steve Haskin.

Argh!! I just want to keep putting that 'S' on the end of your name, Steve.

21 Jul 2010 6:26 PM
Ida Lee

Where's Vodka and what was the name of that Venezuelan Super Filly? Just kidding...this was great fun. Although I did not vote exactly the way the list came out, it was close and everyone listed was a great Champ. The girls mentioned have given us some really great racing. You can't beat that. Thanks for the memories.

21 Jul 2010 6:28 PM
Steve Haskin

Thanks, Jayjay, if you to my current blog, at the top of the page, you'll see "Hangin' with Haskin." Click on to that and it will bring you to a page that has every one of my blogs. Just keep clicking on 'next page' at the bottom until you come to the one you're looking for. It'si in chronological order.

21 Jul 2010 6:40 PM
Steve Haskin

Ida Lee, that's what this was meant to be -- about memories and enlightenment to those not around for the great fillies of the past. The poll was meant to be secondary, but the response was great, so I spent the time tabulating everything.

21 Jul 2010 6:42 PM

LDP : If I may, let me try and put this poll into perspective.  Fans voting for a horse doesn't end with their records.  When someone likes a horse, they're not just looking at their accomplishments.  There are far too many other things to consider when someone says they like the horse.  There are fans that vote with their hearts, some fans like horses who are come from behinds/closers...watching them from far back and come up to win in the nick of time, other like their horse to lead and win going away.  Some fans like their horse simply because they made them happy and some because of the way the horse looks.  And some fans like their horse because they helped them in trying times and watching them run made them forget the bad things that happened to them or they experienced.

In short, when fans vote for their horse in a poll like this, it's not always about the record.  It goes way beyond their accomplishments.  For me, it's both, what Zen has accomplished is to me absolutely great specially in this era of horse racing where horses are retired to breeding as quickly as they win a G1.  But Zenyatta has also helped me personally, with getting through some tough times with my Dad, it's a personal thing to me that doesn't need to be published.  My Dad and I shares the same passion for Zenyatta and we will enjoy watching her together for as long as she's running and will follow her babies in the future.

Yes, the blog is about the "best fillies for the past 50 years" but Steve H knows this as well, it is virtually impossible to compare all these fillies because there are so many variables to consider, the track condition, the competition, the distance, location, weather etc.  I say we just enjoy the outcome, for whatever it is.  This blog brought back a lot of memories for a lot of people and it helped introduced all the past great fillies to the new fans, some of whom never even heard of the horses.  I'm grateful to Steve for the blog and all the comments.

21 Jul 2010 6:44 PM

Well put, Ida Lee.

I wonder where Cesario would have rated if she had stayed here in the US?  Her one appearance was amazing.

I think the Venezuelan filly was Trinicarol or Triny Carol, something like that.

21 Jul 2010 6:49 PM

Can someone explain to me who Ruffian ever beat? In 11 races she only actually beat 49 horses. Not even 49 different fillies...49 total fillies. None of the fillies she beat were of any consequence. Plus she never raced against older horses. She never set a track although she did tie the track record at Belmont in her first two was at 5 1/2f. She may have had some potential. She may have had the chance to turn into a great filly, but Ruffian had to proove a lot more to get into the same class as fillies like Personal Ensign, Lady's Secret, Ta Wee, etc.

21 Jul 2010 6:50 PM
Cheryl (Alex'sBigFan)

The mysterious black beauty was restless in her stall that night.  That night before the ill-fated match race.  Security was so tight at Belmont that even Ruffian's sire probably could not get in to see her.  You could cut the tension in the air with a knife......or so I have read.....

All my life I have dreamed of seeing another Ruffian, I was too

young when Ruffian ran to even remember her.  Well I got that dream in Zenyatta.  The fans have rightfully placed these 2 on the list.  Two different running styles, one was never headed, one comes from far behind, both brilliant, both hungry for victory.

They are all wonderful on the poll or list, but I believe Zenyatta is unique, the likes of which we have never seen.  

21 Jul 2010 6:58 PM
Manny the D


I hate to break it to you but Shuvee never left the state of New York.

She raced 38 times, ALL in the state of New York.

You also mentioned that Zenyatta beat horses way past their prime.


How about Awesome Gem that just won the Hollywood Gold Cup. He finished seventh behind Zenyatta in the Classic. The history of the Hollywood Gold Cup includes winners such as Seabiscuit, Citation, Swaps, Affirmed and Cigar.

(or even Richard's Kid that finished third in the race)

Or how about Gio Ponti that just won the Man O'War. The history of the Man O'War includes Secretariat and Curlin.

Or how about Twice Over that just won the Eclipse. History includes past winners such as Pebbles, Mill Reef, Dancing Brave, and Sea The Stars.

And before the Classic, Zenyatta beat Ginger Punch that won the Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic, then lost to Zenyatta, then came back and won four out of five races including three Grade 1 races and then lost again to Zenyatta in the Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic.

Or how about Music Note that wins the Mother Goose and Coaching Club American Oaks and Gazelle then loses to Zenyatta, and after that wins the Beldame and Ballerina.

Or how about Cocoa Beach that wins the Beldame, loses to Zenyatta in the BC Ladies Classic, then wins the Matriarch, then loses again to Zenyatta in the Lady's Secret.

Then you have Life Is Sweet that wins the El Encino, the La Canada, and the Santa Margarita then loses to Zenyatta in the Milady, Hirsch, and Lady's Secret, then comes back and wins the Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic.

Or how about Hystericalady that wins the Humana, Fleur De Lis, Delaware and Molly Pitcher Handicaps then loses two straight races to Zenyatta.

Then you got Tough Tizs Sis that loses three straight races to Zenyatta and travels to New York and wins the Ruffian in stakes record time.

And it goes on and on.

21 Jul 2010 7:08 PM

arlissholmes, and others just get over it already. Who have half the horses on the list beaten? Rachel did have a VERY impressive 3 yr old campaign. A feel very bad for the horse. If she wins people still find a way to downgrade the her. Sad that people can show hatred towards these horses that give it their all each time they go out and to bring us money and entertain us. I am  a fan of all the horses.

21 Jul 2010 7:09 PM

Look, don't get me wrong, I love zenyatta AND I love rachel. But people, I is not fair to say Rachel hasn't beaten anyone special when zenyatta hasn't beaten anyone special either. Zenyatta beat DIRT horses and turf horses on the synthetic track, so no offence but she has beaten just as much as rachel has. So what if rachel lost two races at the beggining of the year? She had a huge break time and was very unfit. Now JJ is keeping her season light, and preparing for the breeders cup which is EXACTLY what Zenyattas team did with her last year. I'm just saying it's shallow to say that rachel hasn't beaten anyone special while in reality zenyatta hasn't beaten the best horses on the dirt track either.

21 Jul 2010 7:24 PM

I posted my list to the previous blog last night, but it must have gotten lost in the ether, as it never showed up.  Which is not important.  :)  But I wanted to thank you, Steve, for the wonderful reminder about all these terrific fillies and mares.  I loved reading all the lists and comments, and remembering what these girls did on the track.  

21 Jul 2010 7:33 PM

Nice suggestions slee.

21 Jul 2010 7:38 PM
Pedigree Shelly

      I'm pleased to see that Zenyatta is number #1 !!! She earned it ! I'm also proud to say that Winning Colors and Chris Evert , decendents of Miss Carmie , My first broodmare ( Wasted Words ) fifth dam , also made the list ! Unfortunately due to the economy ,I had to part with her :(

21 Jul 2010 7:45 PM

I was a kid mucking out stalls, cleaning corrals and doing some hotwalking when I listened to a transistor (spelling?) radio hanging nearby.  Laffit had his bug* (was an Apprentice) and Gamely, Princessnesian, Amerigo's Fancy and a few others were running against the boys in the 8th race as I checked up on our horses in the late afternoon after school or in the summer.........

21 Jul 2010 7:47 PM


Zenyatta relishes all surfaces and draws away. Her largest margins of victory are on "dirt" surfaces.

Zenyatta competition you ask?

Well let's see here...

How about "Tough Tiz's Sis". Baffert was so tired of having his brains bashed in by Zenyatta, he shipped "Tough Tiz's Sis" back to Belmont Park and ran her in the Grade I Ruffian Handicap. She destroyed that field by 12 1/4 lengths.

Would you like me to bring up more examples?

21 Jul 2010 8:11 PM
jim s.

I like zenyatta as much as anyone but ruffian may have been the best horse over ever seen....let alone filly or mare.


what a freak she was

21 Jul 2010 8:14 PM

Steve - Mr. Haskin - I thought this poll was great fun and thank you for the time you spent 1st, putting together the list, looking up stats, etc. and 2nd, for the additional time you took in tabulating the results.  I enjoyed 90% of the comments you provoked, too! ;-)

I didn't vote because, though I'm certainly OLD enough to have seen all these fillies, the fact is that I didn't.  I'm the poorer for that, and now trying to make up for all the lost years; but not yet feeling I am qualified to judge the talent of such wonderful ladies.  

To me, Zenyatta is rightfully #1 because she's so much MORE than a race-horse.  Everything about her is larger than life.  I'm sure many of the others had "personality," but can't imagine anything to compare with her.

Thanks for all the history and time you've shared with us.  The list will point me to a lot of research!

21 Jul 2010 8:26 PM

All I can say, Steve, is you are a saint to put up with all of this!  When the results were tabulated, each person had their votes, their lists of their own personal top ten counted, they had each had their own opportunity to be heard.  Right?  So, how come there is so much complaining when the results come in?  Each one of us has a right to our own opinion and just because everyone else does not agree, that still does not make our opinion wrong for us.  Am I right?  Sheesh, people.  Thank you for voices of reason along the way, and funny bits in between - you know who you are.  Thanks, Steve.  Can't wait to see the blog about turf females - people will be voting for Mahuba, but hopefully there can't be any Zen-RA bashing.



21 Jul 2010 8:29 PM

Manny the D

I think you're wrong about Shuvee.  She raced 44 times and competed several times outside of New York State including the '68 Gardenia at I believe the Meadowlands, the '69 Cotillion at Philadelphia and the '70 Gallorette at Pimlico.  She still managed to stay pretty close to home though.

Regarding Zenyatta, nice post.  I agree with everything you say.  I don't know why some people have a problem or refuse to acknowledge the talent that she defeated during her career.

21 Jul 2010 8:38 PM


Truth be told, the poll result is misleading.  It reflects sentiments towards the fillies and mares moreso than comparitive quality of their performance on DIRT.  Synthetics, like Grass does not equal Dirt (there is indisputable evidence of this), therefore two wins on dirt by the exceptional mare, Zenyatta, does not eclipse the many great performances of proven dirt champions (no matter how many #1 votes "Big Z" tallies).  I'm one of her fans but I'd reserve my ranking of her above several others because of the DIRT factor.  It is beyond dispute that many of the great ones would not be as accomplished had they been campaigning on Synthetics, therefore a comparitive ranking that put synthetic queen Zenyatta as #1, as interpreted in the Poll results gives Zenyatta an unfair advantage (doesn't make sense).  Zenyatta needs to be allowed to show her prowess on DIRT in order to rightfully take her place in upper echelons of the elite IMO.  After this year's Breeder's Cup all arguments should be settled.  Until then I reserve my judgment.  

21 Jul 2010 8:40 PM

It is true the Fans have spoken, but what have they said?

I love Zenyatta.  She's an amazing equine athlete and an unusual celebrity horse ...also one of the greatest racemares to ever grace a race track (Grass, Synthetics or Dirt) ...but has she really proven in two wins on dirt in the Apple Blossom Stakes at Oaklawn Park that she is the #1 Filly/Mare of the last 50 years on DIRT?  I think not (yet?).

21 Jul 2010 8:52 PM

Geeeshe, what started out as a fun blog,has been ruined. I'm absolutely in love with Zenyatta and find her an inspiration, but don't think she deserves top spot over "Queen of the Fillies". Not yet anyway. But I'm not getting my panties in a knot over it. I swear, some of you guys could ruin a wet dream. I'd hate to see how you get over politics and religion.

Great job Steve, as usual. Thanks for bringing back so many wonderfully sweet memories :)

21 Jul 2010 9:02 PM

Only comment on the poll other than it was a fun exercise - there was definitely a modern era bias. I've been watching since the mid-80s & really struggled with some of the older selections. I can just imagine how difficult this was for the newer fan.

Question: Can anyone tell me what was Althea's one race after the '84 Derby? How did she finish & why did they retire her immediately afterward? Until I read Steve's cons, I thought the Derby was her last race. It's going to keep me up at nights not knowing.

21 Jul 2010 9:07 PM

Steve!  Thanks for telling me about your link.  When I clicked on the "next", I found loads of treasure, your previous blogs!  I just read Art of Zen and Rachel and Jess, and you wrote those blogs like a true professional, unbiased.  I'm so excited that I have more blogs to read now hehe. I'm so looking forward to them.  I joined BH blogging around Mar this year so a lot of these blogs are new to me, please don't delete them, I need about 2 weeks to read them all lol.

As someone said in one of the blogs, you write these stories / articles in a way that we would like to be able to say it but don't know how until we read your version.  Thank You!

21 Jul 2010 9:20 PM
Fred P

The only criticism one can have concerning Zenyatta is that she did most of her running on synthetics.  It is difficult to compare her accomplishments with horses that ran on dirt.  Many feel synthetic surfaces are a third surface and should be grouped in the turf category as it "runs" more like turf than dirt.  Let's see how Zenyatta runs on dirt against males before she is anointed the greatest "dirt" female ever.

21 Jul 2010 9:24 PM


I was really suprised not to see genuine risk on your personal top 10.....I can see  where one could make the case she MIGHT not be the BEST of the last 50 yrs......but no way do i see her outside the top 10... Great to see ta wee on your list......i'd love to see  the sprinters of today, be it male or female carry her weights and run 108 and change......Although I dont nessecarilly agree with your personal list, I appreciate the blog on which we can voice our opinions. Thanks for all the good work you do.

21 Jul 2010 9:26 PM

Something to offer that might add to the validity of the voters voting Zenyatta as number one……

In the 2009 BCC when Zenyatta defeated Gio Ponti she became the only filly or mare in at least the last 50 years to defeat the Eclipse Award winning Handicap Horse in the year that horse won the award.  The closest was in the ’66 Equipoise Mile, a race won by Hedever with Tosmah 2nd and Bold Bidder the ’66 champ was 3rd, but Tosmah never won that race.……..Other handicap champs have been defeated by fillies or mares, of course, but not in the same year in which they won the award.  Among those having been defeated in other years were Curlin, as a 3 y-o to Rags to Riches in the ’07 Belmont…..’91 winner Black Tie Affair in the 1990 BC Sprint to the filly Safely Kept…….John Henry the ’81 winner to Zalataia in the ’83 Oak Tree Inv……..Fort Marcy the 1970 winner twice to Drumtop in the ’71 Bowling Green Hdcp and the Hialeah Turf Club (he would defeat her twice during his award winning year).

As far as I can see, in the past 50 years, Rags to Riches is the only filly or mare to defeat the HOY (male) in the year that horse won the award when she defeated him in the 2007 Belmont.

21 Jul 2010 9:35 PM


You know what people say much worse about Zenyatta than what I have posted. You failed to mention the flaws of either Gallant Bloom or Lady's Secret. Shuvee never left the state, but she faced the best there was to offer. Zenyatta's connections refuse to let her do even that unless it is on synthetics in her own backyard. Had she beaten Gio Ponti and Twice Over on turf, I would say yay for her she deserves her ranking. If she had beaten SB, MTB and the other top dirt horses in that race over dirt I would be incline to give her number one. Shuvee beat males, not once but twice going two miles, she won the the TT, she was great for four years against whoever. Personally I could care less if Zenyatta travels, I just would like to see her take some risks, like this years HGC for starters. That race was perfect for her and it didn't even have to have to be moved up or down a week have a bump in purse, plus it was a grade one at her home track. The race had horses that were proven over the surface and one heck of a horse in RT. She is in her best form and they decided to bypass it for a race that is at a track she really doesn't like and is nowhere near her optimal distance, and against fillies.

Personally, it is a dumb move. I would rather have seen her get beat by a disgustingly slow pace in the HGC then see her possibly lose because ST is a synthetic specialist who will welcome the subtraction of that 1/16 of a mile.

Zen has what it takes, I am not saying she doesn't. I'm saying right now, with all the others have accomplished she does not belong. She could, she has no shortage of talent, but she needs to take some risks. Risks are what made the others the immortals they are today.

21 Jul 2010 9:39 PM

Oh, Zen's Auntie. I didn't mean to post what you already posted. I have not been able to read or participate with the blogs/ forums for almost 2 months. My dad suddenly got sick in June & 5 days after he developed a very aggressive leukemia, he passed away on June 18. Then, my 14 yr. old son & I left for a trip he was awarded since December, to Lourdes & the Pyrenees Mountains, in France. It's been a very difficult 7 weeks. Today is the first time I've had time to read & participate in the blogs since early June.


21 Jul 2010 9:42 PM

Steve - Thank you for the memories of the great ladies of racing.  Some I have seen on the track and others I know only through reading.  It was so hard to rank one above the other as each was a unique individual.  It had to be a lot of work to pull together the information you gave us.

The first thing I search for when I come to the Blood-Horse is a column by you.  Thank you, Thank You!

To jayjay 21 Jul 2010 6:44pm - Thank you for your calm thougtful and wonderful words.  

Long live all of our equine ladies above in our hearts and memories!

21 Jul 2010 9:44 PM
Sport of Kings

Del Mar's turf course is absolutely stunning!!!

That's the way a turf course is suppose to look. Green as green can get.


21 Jul 2010 10:26 PM

So many great horses. I really think Zenyatta is #1, especially after that "out of the clouds" BC win last year.

If broodmare success was combined with racing ability, that too would be an interesting list.

21 Jul 2010 10:28 PM


 I hope you will do this with the males??

21 Jul 2010 10:31 PM
John T

I have too much respect for all the fillies who received votes on this blog and indeed many others who were left out to place them in any particular order.Hopefully what this blog will acheive especially to the younger set,that there really were exceptional fillies before Zenyatta and Rachel


21 Jul 2010 10:34 PM


Where do you get off saying that Zen not participating in the Hollywood Gold Cup was a dumb move?  I don't see what your problem is with her when the horse you obviously favor isn't even competing in graded stakes races.  IMO, the HGC, as prestigious a race as it is, doesn't mean squat when it comes to HOY this year.  The one race that is going to define the champ is the BCC.  That's when everyone (hopefully) will show up with their records intact and then we'll see who the champ is.  Even if Zen won the HGC for some people it still wouldn't be enough.  Then there would be the next excuse and even though you say that at this point travel isn't an issue, believe me, if she had won that race or the next race she competes in it will be the same excuse......who did she beat and she sticks to California.  You want respect for Rachel and rightfully so, but to get respect from many bloggers you have to give some and giving respect doesn't cost anything, it's free and the best thing about it is that it shows an obvious knowledge and passion for the sport, which is what it really needs right now.

21 Jul 2010 10:37 PM


Really? TST a monster over dirt, wait mud, but not synthetics? She did beat her fair and square, but really, how do you compare a race run over a swamp of a track to synthetics. The answer is you can't. Dang, for all we know she could've been like IWR, nice horse over synthetics, monster over dirt.

You all get so defensive towards anything said as a critism. Get over it. I am not bashing her, I have not slammed her, but stated a fact. Compared to many of the other horses on this list, her accomplishments and competition pale in comparison. It's not even close. 17 for 17 is nothing to sneeze at and I'm not. But I find it puzzling that horses who constantly took more risks and succeeded, had far tough campaigns and lasted through them, are ranked below a horse who has had such a light career. It discredits a horse like LS who simply did everything and went everywhere. It is a slap in the face to Shuvee and Gallant Bloom who both constantly faced better. To all the horses that simply did more, to rate her above them, is a slap in the face.

21 Jul 2010 10:41 PM
Steve Haskin

Thanks, cleone. I looked for your list, but couldnt find it anywhere. I honestly dont know what happened to it. Did you include grass fillies or fillies earlier than the past 50 years?

ranagulzion, it was not my intention to make this authoratative or misleading. It was strictly for the fans to vote, and what they did I had no control over. This isnt about so-called experts making a definitive list, only about the readers who spent the time to vote, most of whom were diligent and I'm sure sincere in their picks.

21 Jul 2010 10:46 PM

I'd simply like to quote what Mike Smith said last year....Zenyatta is not the HOTY but "Horse of the Decade".

@ ColetteMarie hats off on your 1 st post"What she is doing for racing, still racing at the level she has mantained, is immeasureable on so many levels" we know last few years horse racing lost popularity in the general public & Zenyatta alone put horse racing back on the board, honestly since Secretariat, yes we had Affirmed vs. Alyadar NO ONE HORSE HAS DONE AND STILL DOING SO FOR HORSE RACING THAN ZENYATTA.

21 Jul 2010 10:48 PM
Steve Haskin

I'm glad this brought back memories for so many people. That made it worth all the time doing the research and the tabulating.

21 Jul 2010 10:48 PM


 Zenyatta invites all to meet her in the 2010 Breeders Cup Classic.

Can you say 120 Beyer Speed figure?

Here's what's going to happen.

These colts (Quality Road and Rail Trip) are going to grind each other into submission. At the 1/8 pole, Quality Road and Rail Trip will be toiling and Zenyatta will be running past this mess.

 Zenyatta is used to the following "Lengths of Stretch":

Santa Anita: 990 feet

Hollywood Park: 991 feet

Del Mar: 919 feet

When Zenyatta arrives at Churchill Downs, all I can say is the following:

"God help her opposition, because they are going to need it".

Churchill Downs Stretch: 1,234.5 feet

21 Jul 2010 10:49 PM
Steve Haskin

Jayjay, if you go back far enough -- 2009 and 2008 you'll find a lot of blogs on famous horses, many from personal observations, articles, and notes that I felt gave a new twist to and behind the scenes look at some of these horses.

21 Jul 2010 10:52 PM
The Rock


It seems as though you've been getting yourself in the same pickle since this whole Zenyatta/Rachel debate got started last year. lol. Don't you get a little tired of repeating yourself on these different blogs for the past year? haha

21 Jul 2010 10:56 PM

Danica, "so what if Rachel lost 2 races this year?"   As a Zenyatta, that would crush us as well as Zenyatta her self.  So you admit that the "winners circle" isn't a big thing to Rachel, her connections and her fans, to us Zen Zealots,  IT'S THE ONLY THING~!

21 Jul 2010 10:57 PM


The only slaps in the face are the ones you administer to those of us who voted for Zenyatta because we think she's the greatest. Whoever you voted for was your choice, she was ours. Please respect our opinions.

One more thing, decisions you don't agree with, are not necessarily "dumb".

21 Jul 2010 11:05 PM

It's laughable when someone says that voting a horse which is a perfect 17 for 17, is the only filly or mare to defeat the male handicap champ in fifty years (not one of the horses on any of these lists can boast that and most of them have tried), is the first filly or mare in over 40 years to defeat true G1 older males at 1-1/4M on dirt (not turf), then makes an absurd statement that voting for this horse is a slap on the face to greats like Shuvee or Gallant Bloom.  You talk about travel…..Shuvee raced mainly in New York State and several times at tracks a stone’s throw away.  In the first part of her career Gallant Bloom raced in a tight group of east coast tracks not much further than Delmar from Hollywood Park.  Towards the end of her career she tried the west coast.  How many horses did they face and defeat that were better than the field ZEN beat in the BCC last year or some of the top fillies and mares she defeated like Hysterical Lady and Ginger Punch and Life is Sweet?  Shuvee lost TWETNY EIGHT RACES.  Gallant Bloom was not exactly a world beater early on in her career, and she never defeated males.  Who are:  Irradiate, Queen’s Double, Golden Or, Pit Bunny, Miss Ribot, Sale Day, Clem’s Fairy Gold, Commissary, Tipping Time and Luz Del Sol?  Never heard of them?  Neither have I, but they are some of the fillies that Gallant Bloom beat.  Sure she won 12 in a row and she did beat the likes of Gamely and Shuvee and Process Shot, but Zen has won 17 in a row.  How can Zen being voted number one be considered a slap on the face?  

21 Jul 2010 11:25 PM

I'm reading all these comments and have come to this conclusion.

Zenyatta is number one because she exhibits a bit of something from every top female racehorse.

She's perfect like Personal Ensign.

She's broken stakes records as Ruffian broke stakes records.

She's beaten great male racehorses like Shuvee.

She's beaten multiple graded winners of both sexes like Lady's Secret.

She's carried the weight like Ta Wee.

She's endeared our hearts to her like Rachel Alexandra.

And she has a personality that no one can match.

21 Jul 2010 11:26 PM
Mike Relva


Hello! I couldn't have said it better.

21 Jul 2010 11:28 PM

I'm pretty new to the horse racing scene, relatively speaking - I'm only 23, so even though I've followed every Triple Crown since 1998 (still burns me up - Real Quiet was so close!), I haven't had a chance to witness many of the great horses (meanwhile, the guy I work with is 89 and was there for Citation's last race - I'm jealous!).

I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to go to Oaklawn for this year's Apple Blossom, and I stood four hours in one spot to get the chance to see Zenyatta as close as possible. She is a magnificent mare - full of personality, and she ran down the stretch like it wasn't the least bit difficult. I think with her record, there can be no doubt she's one of the greatest fillies to race in the last fifty years, despite her limited number of starts outside California.

...BUT...we're all biased towards her because she's running right now. We're witnessing her greatness now. Weren't we all Curlin-crazy a couple years ago? If asked then, we probably would have been putting Curlin up there with Man O' War and Secretariat. Is Curlin a great horse? I absolutely believe so. Is he necessarily the equal or better to some of the other great horses we've seen? I don't think so - we're biased by what we witness at the time.

I'm a fan of Ruffian, personally - I think if it weren't for the (genetic) issues she had with weak bones (remember, both her sire and dam were put down due to breaking legs in accidents), she could have gone on to achieve even more greatness. However, the accident happened, and she was gone before her true potential could be realized. Same with Go For Wand - she could have been even greater. It's an impossible task, trying to determine who's the best, because we are naturally biased towards whomever we're seeing now. More than that, we're biased to who we have seen.

As for the whole Rachel Alexandra versus Zenyatta flame war - they both have their pros and cons: Zenyatta is undefeated, RA is 3:1-2-0 this year. RA has raced at various tracks, Zenyatta's only non-California destination has been Oaklawn. Zenyatta has earned older female honors twice, RA took HOY. It may be that we have to wait until they've been retired a few years before one has a significant edge - we'll see if they can pull a Personal Ensign and earn Broodmare of the Year honors.

21 Jul 2010 11:34 PM


In this entire thing I have not even mentioned respect for RA one single time. In fact, even if you look at my own top ten list I did not put her number one, I believe fifth. The respect lost is towards the other horses who have already made a name for themselves by traveling, constantly taking risks, constantly facing the very best, and doing more.

In the Gold Cup, yes I believe it was a dumb move. Zen is on top of it, the Gold Cup was at her distance and all she would have to do is race right out of the barn. IMO beating RT at his own game, synthetics, in a race that he was defending his title in would've given her something in case she were to lose the Classic. Instead she will run at Del Mar, on a track that she does not really like, at a distance that she is vulnerable at while St. T will love. In the Gold Cup she probably would've gotten weight, in the Hircsh she will give weight. Everything within logic points to the HGC, yet they plan on racing in the Hirsch. If she ends up getting beat their, by a filly no less, what then? A loss to RT in the Gold Cup, especially with the pace the way it was would've been more, I don't know the word, inspiring, than a loss to St.T.

I call for tougher because I know right now she can handle it. I call for it because I know she can be one of the, if not the best horse. I'm not one of those idiots that say she will be beaten when facing true quality. I don't say she is not great. You and most of her other fans seem to see it that way, though, which is a pity.

21 Jul 2010 11:46 PM

Ruffian was the best filly on there, she would`ve head all of those horses far back in tow. Ruffian is THE great filly.

Of course, we`re all using biased opinions and lack of memory here. Note most of the horses at the top are recent runners.

21 Jul 2010 11:48 PM
Round Table

Del Mar breaks the All-Time attendance record with 45,309 patrons (opening day of the 2010 season)!


21 Jul 2010 11:53 PM

Zenyatta is number 1 of all time. We love you congrats. Ruffian deserves a close second. To bad her owner did not listen to her trainer and caused the great filly her life at an early age in a match race. Who knows how many more races she could have won.

22 Jul 2010 12:09 AM

LAZ : Even if Zen won the HGC, the likely complaints will be RT ride was ridiculous, then the call for travel since she already beat the best in the west, and if she does and wins over there, then the next will be a call to run two races in a span of one week, if she wins both races, then the next will be a call to run on 3 legs, if she wins, then the call to run on 3 legs with quality road on her back...and if she wins then the next call will be to cure cancer, she'll fail and we'll once again see the haters come out in full force.

Thanks Steve!  I will surely do that, from what I've read from your articles/stories, your personal observations/notes will probably enable me visualize what it would be like being in that era.

22 Jul 2010 12:19 AM

These polls are fun but really not so accurate. I'll bet a large pct of the people answering never saw some of these great fillies and mares-that's no one's fault. BTW Steve, before looking at your response, I also put Ladies Secret and the absolutely amazing little Dark Mirage higher on my list.

22 Jul 2010 12:26 AM

I noticed there is something weird about the vote totals.

Being weighted as I believe that were, it's hard to imagine Zenyatta having almost twice as many first place votes as Ruffian, but only beats her by 32 points.

I can't figure that part out.

It doesn't make sense, other than thinking that you had many, if not close to the majority of people casting first place votes for Zenyatta but also included Ruffian somewhere on their list as opposed to a smaller percentage of people, who for one reason or another, completely ignored Zenyatta and just left her off the top ten list altogether.

If that's the case, it's pretty sad and petty.

22 Jul 2010 12:54 AM
Kelso Fan

Thanks, Steve, for bringing back memories of all these horses.  Shows how many wonderful racehorses we have had just in these last 50 years.

22 Jul 2010 1:10 AM
Between Friends

Jayjay, be sure to read the column on the Damascus-Dr.Fager rivalry in the summer of 1968. The column puts you right there in the front row. Through Steve's words you can see both of these incredible horses.

 Then, read the blog that follows the column. (At least I hope it still does.) I could not believe how many people wrote in with their memories of Damascus and Dr. Fager. (And Buckpasser and Graustark.)

 Steve, that was a column and blog not to be missed by anyone who considers themselves racing fans.

 (The columns about Spectacular Bid, Holy Bull and Tiznow (both chapters) also are fascinating. I made copies of them and have not given up that someday they will find their way into a BOOK.)

22 Jul 2010 1:43 AM

Easygoer, HUH?

Ruffian: "She won her maiden race in record time and by 15 lengths. She was on the lead at EVERY point of call in EVERY race she ever ran. She set a new stakes record in each of the eight stakes races which she won. She also equaled two track records. If she didn't set track or stakes record, she equaled them."

Unfortunately she died early summer of her 3-year-old season before she could do more...

Good grief.

22 Jul 2010 6:19 AM

I believe Zenyatta deserves to be number one on this list, and perhaps, after this years BCC, the number one of all lists. There was, however, an amazing Hungarian racemare over a century ago who was undefeated in 56 (yes, 56) races. Her name was Kinscem. She even raced against males in England. Now THAT was a record for all time.

22 Jul 2010 6:44 AM
Blue Blue Sea

Clearly shows how much we are a nation of the NOW rather than looking at real accomplishment. Z is one of the greats, but the greatest? Really?

22 Jul 2010 7:41 AM

Move Dance Smartly up to #1, she foaled some excellent runners as well as winning Triple Crown.

22 Jul 2010 7:46 AM

Ok, Steve....we all gave you our list of the greatest fillies. We all did the daunting task of putting the fantastic fillies in order. Where is your list?

22 Jul 2010 8:40 AM

Everyone is critical of the votes on here and that being Zen #1, I ask you, Did you put a list up? If so, Did you list in order your own personal list?   Well, the rest of us did, and Steve tabulated them and this is the way it all came out. So quit giving Steve a hard time for the way "US" fans voted!

I'm not one bit sorry the way it added up, I am pretty partial to the Mighty Mare, I think she is so much like Ruffian.  Maybe she and Ruffian share some of the same bloodlines, that would surely say alot.   Zenyatta and Ruffian, Long live the Queens.

22 Jul 2010 8:50 AM

Ouiji Board and Goldikova? Hello??? Queen Z never loses. Never. Deserving of the no 1 spot.

22 Jul 2010 8:59 AM
Steve Haskin

Nostalgichorse, being you werent paying attention when I posted it, you'll have to look for it. It's there :).

22 Jul 2010 9:14 AM
Greg J.

Mr. Haskin,

Thanks for the trip down memory lane, This was fun, I just wish people would pay attention to what you print before making comments.  I also believe that when Zenyatta wins the classic, She will be at the top of the list in my eyes.

22 Jul 2010 9:25 AM
Carlos Eduardo Blanco

Dear Steve (and staff):

Congrats on that awesome list and job. Anyway my vote will remain (both for pre and post BC eras) to the unforgettable RUFFIAN, the  fastest and most courageus filly ever. Kudos to all.

Carlos E. Blanco (Caracas, VENEZUELA)

22 Jul 2010 9:29 AM
Mike Relva


It's also PETTY when many REFUSE to give both horses' their due!

22 Jul 2010 9:29 AM

Steve, it was a beautiful attempt, but the original intent seems to be disintegrating into the same RA/Zen controversies.  I do note recency and subjectivity in the poll, and can't really "blame" anyone for what they feel.

Subjectively, if I were asked who was my favorite horse, the answer will always be Seattle Slew.  I feel that he is the greatest I have ever seen.  Objectively, when someone would say, "No, it's Secretariat!" I would find no adequate argument to deny the fact that Secretariat is actually the greatest.  And when the trainer of Secretariat states that Ruffian is as good as or possibly better than Secretariat, I find the statement most revealing. Which is why, though I truly love Zenyatta, I will always see Ruffian as #1.  (And I'd also have to admit that Kelso is special, 5xHOY). That's just me.  As far as recency, I notice Azeri has commanded much less respect than she deserves, and she is a recent HOY(2002).

LDP: You wrote a well balanced blog on BH.  Why, on this blog, do you avoid your own advice, and once more become hypercritical of Zenyatta and everything she's done?

And to everyone asking why RA is even on this list: Have you forgotten 2009 so quickly that you cannot admit she had a stellar year and HOY was hard earned and well deserved.  Since 1887, only 10 filles have been named HOY.  In the past 50 years, only 5.,,including Azeri, Lady's Secret, All Along, and Moccasin. (And even I didn't remember Moccasin.)

We all have our own opinions, but we must not forget to respect the truly great and their accomplishments.

I have to thank Steve for taking the time to compile this list.  It was very kind of him to consider our opinions respectfully.

22 Jul 2010 9:53 AM

Boy, I just wanted to help the person looking for information on Caesar's Wish. I think her last race was at Delaware Park, her jockey was Danny Wright, her owner was Sally Gibson. This is all from memory I could be wrong about her last race. More information could be found in old copies of the Maryland Horse which was changed to the Mid Atlantic Horse. She was a wonderful animal. There are plenty of stories on Safely Kept and Xtra Heat as well. Hope you find what you are looking for. Maybe some of you fellow fans could just relax and learn about racing, which is so much more than races won. The road to becoming what you are as a person or as a race horse is far more interesting and telling than which coast you come from or if you run on dirt or not. Like a fine wine horses are meant to enjoy and respect. Racing reflects life and that is what makes it so interesting. Some of the greatest races I ever saw was when a great horse lost a race I expected him or her to win. Forego, and my favorite horse Kelso, all lost races, it is how and why they lost that made them great. Their owners were very interesting as well and if anyone makes a movie it should really be about Kelso. The relationship between his owner was a story that proves how much these horses are loved and part of the lives of the folks that own them.

22 Jul 2010 9:53 AM

Could we please move the needle now?  Does every blog have to turn into this?  I loved this blog until it turned into the usual repetition of the same stuff ad nauseum.  Zenyatta and RAchel were only two if how many horses on the list????  I was hoping that people would rise above it, just once.  Look at the amazing fillies and mares from the past that could have been talked about....  But, instead I am proved wrong.  It's just sad.  

On another subject- Del Mar had a great opening day, but jocks said that the track was a little sticky.  Let's hope the new guy can straighten it out.  Nobody else has been able to so far.

22 Jul 2010 9:56 AM


You forgot about the universal BCC.....that's where they will want her to run around the rings of Saturn.

22 Jul 2010 10:11 AM
Cathy B

I agree with the top two,  but I would have to put Lady's Secret above Rachel.  With no disrespect of the brilliance of Rachel, Lady's Secret went head and head with such greats as Turkoman and Precisionist, competing several times against the boys and being successful.  After a hard campaign in 1986 she crushed the girls in the  Breeders Cup Distaff and secured Horse OF The Year.  

22 Jul 2010 10:18 AM

Cris, Great post! I just bought Mr. Haskin's book on Kelso. It arrived yesterday... can't wait to dive into it!

Footlick, Some people rose above it and shared their love for horses I only know by name. But I agree with you, the whole exercise could have been a lot more enjoyable if it didn't turn into the usual "my choice is better than yours"!

22 Jul 2010 10:40 AM
Ann in Lexington

Genuine Risk rated so far above Bold n' Determined, yet in their only meeting, Genuine Risk was the loser. What a travesty.

22 Jul 2010 10:41 AM

Cris: beautifully stated, and yes, Kelso was awesome.  I remember one of Slew's greatest races was one he lost....but his loss merely increased our respect because of the way he lost.  It's all about the horse, the race, and the way they or lose.

22 Jul 2010 10:45 AM

Remarkable Ruffian……….

Here's another point to show just how great Ruffian was.  Excluding her ill-fated match race, if you total up all the calls in her ten races (40) you will see that only in 4 of them (10%) did she ever lose ground from one call to the next and in one other call the margin remained the same.  Also, only in the last race that she actually finished, the 1-1/2M Coaching Club Oaks, did she lose ground (3L to 2 3/4L) in the final call.  I find this incredible, especially because she was a front runner, never was headed, ran fast times, and in every race except the last, after setting fast fractions actually accelerated away from her competition.   THIS VALIDATES HER GREATNESS.

Remarkable Zenyatta……….

Likewise Zenyatta.  In her 17 races, taking the last 4 calls of each race (68), in only two calls (less than 1%) did she lose ground (her first race and her third last).  In every other call she gained ground and in two the margin was the same, and no horse, not even in the BCC, ever out gained her in the last two calls.  This is exceptional and VALIDATES HER GREATNESS.  It is also interesting to note that Zen could probably be just as solid at a mile as she obviously is at 1 1/4M.  Her races have always started at the first call.  From that point on she has demonstrated complete control.

To put these feats into perspective, none of the fillies on any of these lists can make that claim.  As an example, in Rachel’s 17 races (68 calls) she has lost ground on something like 15 of them.  The only horse I can exclude is undefeated Personal Ensign.  I have a copy of her PP’s, but they only show her start and her finish with no individual calls in between.

22 Jul 2010 10:49 AM

Zookeeper- that is true.  There are many who try not to get into the perpetual purgatory that is the Z/RA diatribes.  I know you have to expect it, but it is interesting to me what non recency horses actually cracked the top and how many brilliant others are mired down below.  It is a difficult task because all these horses have great credentials, otherwise they would not have been on the list.

jayjay- reading Mr Haskin's many, many blogs is a great trip down memory lane for me, as I remember so many of those horses and Mr Haskin not only captured them but also the times they ran.   It is great and entertaining and informative reading.  Worthy of a book.

22 Jul 2010 11:33 AM

It's hard to rate yesterday against today as so much has changed. One would sure hope horses have improved over all thos years, at least as regards the list. However, I would still feel more confident about Zen as No. 1 if she had faced males more than once as well as more diverse company. For me, I'd still put Ruffian up there - but unfortunately, because of that #%^%# match race, she remains a song never fully sung. Still and all, the list is fun and the poll is fun - and no, I'm not going to get hot under the collar about the Zen/Rachel debate. I like who I like and only the future could change my mind. Thanks for the jaunt into the years when I fell in love with this sport.

22 Jul 2010 1:57 PM

Thanks Steve for creating the Poll.As one who has been a racing fan since the 60's and race track attendee since the early 70's, I loved the way you captured the careers of so many memorable female racehorses.

I was  expecting a Zenyatta win because of the media advantage of today and some fans not having seen many of the tough distaffers on your list.I appreciate the reminders of how durable and accomplished these horses were.Zenyatta's perfect record is notable but so lightly and carefully raced over the past 3 years(5 races in  2009!) ,I would imagine old time trainers asking  why doesn't she race more.That fact and the issues surrounding synthetic tracks really made it hard for me to justify her ranking when compared to the other "dirt" fillies.Its almost like one undefeated turf filly being compared to all of the others.In any event it will be interesting to see if Zenyatta or Rachel change how they are perceived between now and when their racing careers end.

Also it looks that the influence of the Breeders Cup will make it even harder to compare horses over time.The Mother Goose was shortened this year and I see the CCA Oaks is also being shortened.Since the BC Ladies Classic was shortened,many of the signature filly races (Beldame,Vanity,etc ) have been shortened  over time. That adds to the difficulty in seeing Zenyatta who has run once further than a mile and an eighth rated so much higher than fillies that ran  more longer distances even against males(Shuvee).JCGC 2 mi->1.5mi->1.25 mi.

While the Breeders Cup Has been good for racing,it seems to have encouraged breeding horses that won't get a distance.Is that a good thing?  

22 Jul 2010 2:07 PM


       I voted for Numbered Account, she was in my Top 10. Some of these names on the list do not belong. It's almost an insult to the all greats to include them, Take Charge Lady, Pine Island, Xtra Heat, c'mon folks. Like I said in an earlier blog, it's apparent many of today's fans do not know the great fillies and mares of the past. Ruffian is #1, I will argue that until my last breath.  

22 Jul 2010 2:08 PM

Sorry Steve, after reading a few articles from your blogsite, I managed to find a better writer IMO and I'm stealing a quote from the writer's article.  I'll keep this quote on a post-it by my desk and will instill it on my lil girl:

"  I guess life doesn't always show you the easy path. It's all those dead ends and roundabouts that allow you to recognize the right path when it appears before you. "

- Mandy

Ok's from the same apple tree.  Say Steve, not sure if this is too much to ask but was wondering if you can post those pics with Mandy and all the great horses when she was little.  I'd love to see those.  It's okay if you can't though lol.

The Skip Away article (from 2008) actually made me teary eyed.  I was just starting to get into racing at the time Skip Away was running.  I had no idea what the horses were doing, it was mostly betting numbers and trying to win money for me at the time but reading this article, I kind of feel guilty and regretful that I didn't pay more attention to the horses and the human stories behind them.  You're one lucky fella Steve!

Between Friends :  You're right, that blog Damascus vs Dr. Fager is a great read.  At some point during the read, I was actually rooting for Damascus after his initial attack and thought he was going to catch him after he backed off to take a breather.  I'm still in awe that Dr. Fager ran in two back to back 1 1/4 races carrying over 130 lbs.  I cheated and watched it on youtube afterwards and Steve nailed it down with his description of the entire race.  I also thought it was really cool watching Dr. Fager's "new look" with the long mane looking like a wild horse.  If Steve hadn't mentioned that in the blog, I wouldn't have noticed it.  The only really really weird thing about reading this article was that the comments after it were kind of odd.  There were no fighting between Dr. Fager and Damascus' fans, there were no insults thrown at each other.  I was wondering what was wrong with these people, still haven't figured it out...

Footlick : (BTW, I'm still intrigue by your name lol), it'd be awesome to be able to go back in time and actually watch those races.  It's very different from what racing is now.  My feeling is that during those times, the trainers (who are mostly in charge of the horses) don't complain too much about the conditions of the races.  They all rely on the abilities of their horses so weights weren't a big deal to them, they all believed that they have a great horse so they run them with whatever they put on them which made for a truly great horse racing.  Back then, it was always about the horse's abilities.

I'm having a great time with these blogs Steve, THANKS for keeping them online!

22 Jul 2010 4:12 PM

jayjay- the story of my blog name may not be appropriate for all-lol.  Trainers back then expected the weight assignments.  They may not have liked it, but it was what racing was then.

22 Jul 2010 4:49 PM

I really enjoyed reading about the great filly / MAres of the past

Since I haven' been watching Horse racing for long I had never heard of a good portion of the these horses. It was extremely interesting and I will resaerch more about them on my own time.

I think it would be really cool if you had a similar poll for male horses because it is extremely interesting hear the opinions of people who saw them race (like  many of the commenters on the blog) as opposed to merely looking at stats it gives a different feel

22 Jul 2010 4:52 PM


I love your really are a true racing fan.  I think the more we get into the history of horse racing, especially with the delicate situation it is rapidly moving into, and realize that there will always be more than one horse in a race, we'll be the better for it and learn in time to cheer for all the horses, not just one or two.  I've been around this game for a long time and am still learning to be humble and try and give all their just due.  I still don't do it all the time, but I am doing it more and more and that's important.  It's okay to have our favorites, but it shouldn't be okay to actually run a horse down or belittle it and I know that most of the time when this is done it is the owners or the trainers that we are actually pointing our anger and sarcasm at.  It's not the horses that cause us to take sides like we do at times, it's people.  The horses give their all and are just innocent participators.  They all have their stories, all have their idiosyncrasies, their own aches and pains and they still try their best.  In the end that's all anyone can ask.  Have a good one.

22 Jul 2010 4:54 PM
Barbara W

Colette Marie--my sympathy and prayers go out to you.

Soldier Course--great idea! I wish Laura Hillenbrand would write Zenyatta's story. The only problem is that she was always regal, not a "surprise" like Seabiscuit.

Not much new here except the same rehashings. I will say once again that the thought lingers in my mind that Zenyatta could have possibly been our Triple Crown winner had she been campaigned harder in her 3-year-old year. But we'll never know because her connections valued her too much to wear her out.

As far as running her all over the country, people need to remember that air travel is very expensive and takes a toll on the horse. Not only that, most horses won't show up to face her.

Thanks, Steve, for putting up with all of us again for another round!

22 Jul 2010 5:34 PM

Thanks for looking for my list, Steve!  No, no turf fillies or pre-1960 fillies on it!  I'm sure computer gremlins just ate it somewhere on its journey from me to you.  Since people are still posting on the other blog, I think I'll go ahead and repost my list and my recreated (as best I could remember them!) comments over there anyway.  

22 Jul 2010 8:04 PM
Jim C.

Even though I abstained from voting (because it's too premature at this point), thanks for putting this together, Steve.  

I hope that, after Zenyatta retires, you author the Thoroughbred Legends series book on her, or maybe even an extended, larger biography.  ( Laura Hillenbrand has taken an interest in Zenyatta: )

22 Jul 2010 8:15 PM


This has been fun!! I beg to differ with you, though; I think all voters were sincere and passionate, but many weren't diligent in informing themselves and researching top mares from previous decades, and viewing older races.  Peppers Pride is an example of fan passion, but should not be mentioned in the same breath as Ruffian, Zenyatta, Gamely, etc, or even be considered.

Ignorance leads to erroneous conclusions.

For this reason, I would love to see you interview experts such as John Nerud who really know horses and greatness, and post their views.  

22 Jul 2010 8:17 PM

It's funny Steve, you have to keep repeating yourself about this blog NOT being about TURF horses. It's about the greatest fillies and mares of the past 50 years. The folks (with respect) who can't read instructions had a vote, pretty scary who they may have voted for. Blogs like these are fun but obviously it lacks accuracy. I am no one to put down another person's choices but honestly, some of the selections were down right laughable. Steve, your list compares closely to mine. Ruffian, Lady's Secret, Zenyatta, and Personal Ensign. Gallant Bloom, Susan's Girl, Gamely and Shuvee were iron ladies. That is a fact. But sheer brilliance, that's argueable. I do however believe that they absolutely belong on the list.

Let's define brilliance in a race horse, this too is argueable. Ruffian,

Ta Wee, Rachel, Moccasin, Landaluce, Go For Wand, Rags To Riches and Princess Rooney were brilliant. careers cut short by injuries. Passion for a particular horse  was probably responsible for many of the voters decisions. You can't define love for a horse, it just happens. Some horses just get into your heart and never leave. Great blog nonetheless, stimulating, and informative. It brought back many old memories.

If there were a voting for TURF fillies and mares, my selections would be


All Along

Allez France

Ouiga Board



to nsme 5.

Thanks again Steve.........

22 Jul 2010 10:24 PM
Fran Loszynski

Ruffian will always be first in my mind but as a horseracing fan you have to give Zenyatta her due. She is a great fille. I hope her success continues, and has a wonderful healthy life. Her fans love her so much. I heard a little man about 80 years old yelling from the stands "My Zenyattaaaaa!"

Thank you for the list Steve. It shows us what horse fans like.

23 Jul 2010 8:27 AM

LAZ : Thanks, I like your posts too, I learn a lot from them.  I also understand about having a favorite and sometimes it's hard not to give the others their due but you hit the nail on the head, all of our comments are really directed to the owners, not the horse.  The horses do their jobs regardless of what the owners asked them to do.  Sometimes, in Rachel's case, she can't but she tries hard all the time.

Enjoy the opening weekends at Delmar and Saratoga!  May you hit the big one!

23 Jul 2010 1:09 PM
Soldier Course

Barbara W:

Zenyatta has caught Laura Hillenbrand's attention and that's what counts. It may not be for the same reason that Seabiscuit inspired her, but there's a grand story and warm human interest there. There's the Jerry and Ann Moss history, and the fact that Zenyatta's trainer (John Shirreffs) married their racing manager (Dottie Ingordo).

As far as Zenyatta not being a surprise, try convincing the person who sold her for $60,000 of that.

24 Jul 2010 12:11 PM

Mike Relva,

Short, simple post, very profound and thank you.

24 Jul 2010 5:24 PM

I'll agree with that list.... except for one thing. Swap the first two.

As much as I like Zenyatta, Ruffian is my top filly *ever.*

24 Jul 2010 6:04 PM
Kathleen Wiltsey

Any filly/mare that won the Breeder's Cup Classic against the best males of the year AND was purchased for a mere $60 K while returning over 6 Million in earnings deserves the # 1 spot.  I think Ruffian perhaps should be tied with Zenyatta...she had a great career and (albeit) sad ending and maybe Laura Hillenbrand will write a book or short story about her someday.  There is no question that Laura Hillenbrand's moving NPR recording about Zenyatta's charismatic personality raised her public profile immensely!  After the Secretariat movie comes out in the Fall, stories about charasmatic and great racehorses will again take center stage.

24 Jul 2010 8:14 PM
Zen's Auntie

Collette M. I meant only to agree with you, Not to admonish you for posting your own views (especially since they are much the same as mine ;^)

I saw some fine race fillys today I really cant wait till Devil May Care can see Blind Luck - you gotta LOVE gutsy girls. I liked to see Rachel run and got a huge charge out of a very game Queen Martha - Nice effort on her part and she looked the part of a graded stakes winner - I wish her the Best in the future.  

Oh and Deacon on the issue of you being miffed at the mention on someones personal list of fillys like Pine Island (she was 4 - 2 - 0 in 6 starts including 2 grade 1 wins and 2 grade 1 seconds when she broke down in the BC Distaff in 2006)you can uh..... bite me.

25 Jul 2010 1:34 AM

The talk about Laura Hillenbrand and Seabiscuit, Secretariat and the silver screen make me wonder:  Of all these great filly's and mares, which one's careers will make it to the movies?  I know that Zenyatta already has a date with tinsle town, she performs there and I'd say Ruffian might make it too.  I'm sure Santa Anita, Del Mar and Oaklawn are considering a statue of Zenyatta.  Is there one of Ruffian at any of the NY tracks?  Can somebody tell me?  Right now, Santa Anita has Seabiscuit and John Henry Statues, Hollywood Park has a Citation statue.  The statue is the sign of greatness.

25 Jul 2010 9:46 AM

In case you haven't heard the news, St. Trinian's trainer has decided not to race her at Del Mar siting soreness and stiffness -

thanks to Zenyatta's wearing her out in the Vanity (his words).  She will not return to racing until next year.  St. Trinians trainer also said he hopes that the Mosses stick to their guns and retire Zenyatta next year!  St Trinian's is a very good mare and has won a majority of her races but was no match for the Queen !

And yet Zenyatta just had one of her fastest work outs ever...she apparently needed the race against St. Trinians (the Vanity) to sharpen her form. It still remains to be seen if Zen will run at Del Mar..the track is still a questionable issue for her owner.

All the great racehorses should have stories/books published about them! Zenyatta may be one of the largest racehorses (male or female) of all time!  17.2 hands..any lifesize statute would be enormous !  

25 Jul 2010 2:34 PM
Mike Relva


Thanks for the kind words.

25 Jul 2010 4:39 PM

I agree with most of the above, but would like to nominate a minor Stakes winner, Readtfourshoes, by name. I n one of her final, if not her final race, she was being walked around the barns at River Downs, [ She raced at Churchill, Latonia, most often ] when a former assitant trainer,"Poor Marie", who hadn't been near the filly in over a year, had the exercise boy stop for a moment,  and softly said into the horse's ear, "Ready, remember me.?? I'm Marie - now give me a paw." That wonderful filly raised her left leg - she did. She really did.!!! And to this day, no one will believe me. This happened in circa, 1970's. A $79 digital camera was all I needed, back then. Too bad.  Ed. N.        

31 Jul 2010 11:20 PM

Okay, we all have our opinions and thats cool. Here is mine, Zenyatta belongs at the top and I would trade out Ruffians #2 spot and put Azeri there, put Ruffian at #3 or where ever. I also would place the likes of these all above Rachel Alexandra who certainly belongs on this list, but below...Azeri, Ladys Secret, Bayakoa, Winning Colors and certainly Twilight Tear who never even made the list fools.

Shane, Personal Ensign over Zenyatta when she has won six, yes six less undefeated races than big Z....come on get real. And if Peppers Pride is on the list why isn't Hallowed Dreams, yes another...get real.

09 Oct 2010 2:31 PM

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