Girls Gone Wild

Sometimes a trend is not just a trend, but the beginning of the end. Pardon the feeble attempt at poetry, but is it time to come to the realization that the Sport of Kings may be witnessing the end of male domination and that the queens will one day rule racing?

Many archeologists have concluded that women once were the dominant species on Earth, and even Bob Dylan wrote: “I think women rule the world and that no man has ever done anything that a woman either hasn't allowed him to do or encouraged him to do.”

With Black Caviar nailing down her 15th consecutive victory in Australia Saturday, followed on the same card by Pinker Pinker becoming only the sixth female to win the historic Cox Plate, the trend of fillies defeating the boys in major stakes continued its unprecedented run over the past six years.

And it is very possible that fillies for the first time in history will be favored in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, Breeders’ Cup Turf, and Breeders’ Cup Mile in the same year, assuming Havre de Grace, Sarafina, and Goldikova make it to the starting gate on Nov. 5. Whether they all are favored or not, they have an excellent chance of adding those three races to the ever-growing list of major stakes won in recent years by fillies over colts.

Although we had a run of female Arc de Triomphe winners in the 1970s, we've never seen anything to this extent in such a short period of time and on such a worldwide scale. This remarkable trend began innocently enough in 2005 when the great Australian mare Makybe Diva won her third straight Melbourne Cup and added the Cox Plate the same year. Since then, the racing world has seen superstar females such as Rags to Riches, Zenyatta, Rachel Alexandra, Goldikova, Black Caviar, Zarkava, Ventura, Vodka, Ouija Board, Pinker Pinker, Snow Fairy, Havre de Grace, Sarah Lynx, Sarafina, Danedream, Dar Re Mi, Fleeting Spirit, and Southern Speed defeat males in the world’s most prestigious stakes…in nine different countries (U.S.A, Canada, France, England, Germany, Japan, Australia, Dubai, and Hong Kong) on four continents. And they’ve beaten them at distances from six furlongs to 1 ½ miles.

During that time, these remarkable Amazons have conquered the boys in the Preakness Stakes (Rachel Alexandra), Belmont Stakes (Rags to Riches), Breeders’ Cup Classic (Zenyatta), Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (Zarkava and Danedream), Breeders’ Cup Mile (Goldikova three times), Melbourne Cup (Makybe Diva three times), Japan Cup (Vodka), Hong Kong Cup (Snow Fairy), Canadian International Championship (Sarah Lynx), Woodward Stakes (Rachel Alexandra and Havre de Grace), Caulfield Cup (Southern Speed), Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud (Sarafina), Grosser Preis von Baden and Deutschland Preis (Danedream), Prince of Wales's Stakes and Hong Kong Vase (Ouija Board), Dubai Sheema Classic (Dar Re Mi and Buena Vista 1-2), Woodbine Mile (Ventura), July Cup (Fleeting Spirit), and Haskell Invitational (Rachel Alexandra), not to mention a United Arab Emirates Derby victory by Khawlah and a Queens Plate score by Inglorious. Japanese superstar filly Buena Vista finished first in last year’s Japan Cup only to be disqualified in what was an extremely unpopular decision.

And Larry Jones in another year might very well have added the Kentucky Derby with the ill-fated Eight Belles, who finished second to superstar Big Brown in the Run for the Roses. And Zenyatta missed by a head last year of winning back-to-back Breeders’ Cup Classics. Last month, Snow Fairy came within a half-length of upsetting former Australian wonder horse So You Think in the Irish Champion Stakes.

Not only did Danedream crush her field in this year’s Arc de Triomphe, she led a 1,2,3 female finish. To show how this trend is increasing, in 2011 alone, fillies have won the Arc de Triomphe, Canadian International, Cox Plate, Woodward Stakes, Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud, Queens Plate, UAE Derby, Grosser Preis von Baden, Deutschland Preis, and major sprint stakes in Australia. And we just learned this morning that Be Fabulous defeated the boys in today's Prix Royal-Oak (French St. Leger). And the year is far from over.

So, is this global phenomenon the beginning of a new era of female dominated racing? Are the femme fatales of the sport getting stronger or are the males as a whole getting weaker? It’s still too early to tell, but what we do know is that racing has never seen anything like the current success rate of fillies against colts in major stakes around the world. If our male heroes are to reassert their superiority, there is no better place to start than the Breeders’ Cup.

In regard to racing’s future stars, it is worth noting that this year’s Frizette Stakes was run in faster time than the Champagne; the My Dear Girl at Calder was faster than the In Reality; the Alcibiades Stakes was run in the exact same time as the Breeders’ Futurity; and the Oak Leaf Stakes was only 26 one-hundredths of a second slower than the Norfolk Stakes. So, in essence, the 2-year-old fillies have proven to be as fast or slightly faster than the colts, who look to be an above average group at this point, with potential classic horses such as Union Rags, Creative Cause, Drill, Dullahan, and Fort Loudon.

In other filly-related news, it looks as if Europe will be represented in the inaugural Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint by Shumoos, a Pennsylvania-bred daughter of Distorted Humor trained by Brian Meehan. Shumoos, obviously is bred for the dirt and has a victory in the group III Sirenia Stakes over the all-weather track at Kempton. She also was beaten a nose in the five-furlong Queen Mary Stakes (Eng-II) at Royal Ascot, so we know she has speed.

92 Comments

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furlongs

Nicely done... I would totally love to see Havre de Grace win the Classic this year.

22 Oct 2011 8:27 PM
bellesforever

Steve..I think you are on to something..why?Maybe because with most young girls they are not pushed as hard as the colts because they have no triple crown...their races have prestige but not the crushing pressure of the colts.Just a thought.

22 Oct 2011 9:10 PM
Delrene

Dear Steve - Wow - lots of statistics on the fillies.  I love your bringing all this information for those of us who love these girls.

Did not realize how much they had accomplished in this past racing season.

go Goldikova!!!  Let's see you do it again.

22 Oct 2011 9:14 PM
rowdee

Steve, do you think this trend will see the girls having to tote the same weight as the boys?

As for why they have shown to be speedier than boys (in some cases such as the times above you noted), is it possibly due to the girls being smaller, having to move less weight around than the boys?

It will be interesting to see what reasons are speculated upon as to why this trend is occuring.  

I do think one of the reasons is that more trainers are willing to run their girls against the boys.  It seemed like in the past, few were willing to do that.

And it could be that they have been winning all along--just at a lower level of racing which would garner less attention, I'm sure.

22 Oct 2011 9:33 PM
Afleet Treet

Steve,

Another fantastic mare was Ouija Board!! Didn't she also beat the boys?? I cn't remember. If so you can't leave "Weegie" out!

22 Oct 2011 9:33 PM
serena

It's so glad to read about these accomplished ladies.  Perhaps more American trainers will consider sending their females out against males more frequently. I believe if the filly is up to the task, she should be given the chance.  Outside of this country, females routinely races (and win) against males, even as 2 yr olds.  Bravo to all these great females and thanks for giving them the recognition they so greatly deserve!  Looking forward to BC weekend to cheer on the girls!

22 Oct 2011 9:33 PM
Coldfacts

Exceptional females will always have a shot at beating the males because of the competition on the male side. Each year there seems to be an exceptional filly that towers over her female counterparts. The reality is different on the male side. Each year there seems to be a handful of colts that are evenly matched. Consequently the competition between colts is much tougher than that between fillies.

Rag To Riches to won the Oaks the Friday before the derby quite easily.  She had what was an easy 9F gallop as she was much the best. Her next start was six weeks later where she defeated Curlin in the Belmont in what was his third race in six weeks.. Curlin had a troubled, hard Derby. He wheeled back in two weeks for the Preakness and had to run very hard for his narrow victory over Street Sense. Those two hard races in two weeks must have contributed to his loss in the Belmont. The same can be said about RA’s victory in the Preakness. Mine That Bird closed from 19th to win the derby and that took some serious running while RA was hardly out of a canter in her Oaks. So You Think ran some hard races heading into the Arc and finished 4th. Are all the fillies/mares that finish ahead of him better than he is?

I do agree the females are dominating right now but if must be noted that the truly great male were never defeated by females. Female are not subjected to the tough campaigns like males. When was the last time a filly started in all three TC races? None since Genuine Risk! A male that has contested all three TC races will always be vulnerable to an exceptional 3YO female. If the brilliant Sea The Stars was not whisk away to the breading shed he would have been a bigger and stronger horse as a 4YO. Would Danedream leave Sea The Stars trailing in her wake? I am not trying to take anything away from these great female but the work load on males is a contributor factor to their vulnerability to these exceptional females

22 Oct 2011 10:02 PM
Steve Haskin

Afleet Treat, I didnt include Ouija Board because I think of her best races before the 6-year cutoff, but she did win the Prince of Wales's in 2005, so that does count. Therefore, I have added her to the story. Thanks.

22 Oct 2011 11:18 PM
Steve Haskin

Coldfacts, I dont see the point youre trying to make. No one is comparing the talents of these fillies to the colts or trying to make excuses for the colts. The fact is they've won all these races, period, and it is something that has never happened before on a worldwide scale. When something like this happens over a six-year period and in so many countries it is more than just a few isolated incidents. It is a trend, and that is the only point I'm making. How long this trend will last I have no idea.

22 Oct 2011 11:24 PM
Steve Haskin

Rowdee, we wont see any changes in the scale of weights, especially since it's been in existence for over a century.

22 Oct 2011 11:26 PM
JCRobinson

Coldfacts: when was the last time a filly ran in all 3 Triple Crown races? You're 8 years off. Try Winning Colors, who ran 1-3-6/last in 1988. Probably should not have run in the Belmont (another Lukas ego trip?), she still found enough in the fall to push Personal Ensign to a 1/2 length and a nose.

23 Oct 2011 12:03 AM
genie918

I had always wished that Azeri's connections would have raced her against the boys back in 2002 when she was in her prime.  Back then, I believe that she could have beaten the colts.  Unfortunatley, her opportunity came just before her retirement, and while her 5th place finish in the BC Classic was respectable, she was no longer at the top of her game.

On a side note--many people believe that if the world came to an end that somehow most species of insects would survive.  Perhaps it will be women!

23 Oct 2011 12:33 AM
Arts and Letters

When you watch the races in Europe, none of the announcers ever bat an eyelid when a filly or mare runs against the boys.  It's barely even worth mentioning. I think North Americans put way too much emphasis on this - not sure what that says about our culture, but...

As for the theory that the fillies are better because they're smaller, look at the size of Zenyatta.  I'm not sure about the others, but I think Rachel is a good size too.

23 Oct 2011 12:49 AM
Starine

Steve,

Don't forget to give your dues to Southern Speed, who triumphed in the Caulfield Cup six days ago.

23 Oct 2011 1:50 AM
Steve Haskin

Of course, Southern Speed. I have added her, thanks.

Genie, couldnt agree more about Azeri.

23 Oct 2011 2:19 AM
The Deacon

Very honest and telling article Steve, girl power all the way. So many to choose from if someone was to single out the best performance by a filly or mare the past 6 years but the one that gets my attention is Rags to Riches win over Curlin (2 time horse of the year) in the Belmont Stakes. A 3year old filly running a mile and a half was amazing. All the wins were special but this one would be my choice.

Too bad about Twirling Candy, another one bites the dust. This is about 4 or 5 now out of the Breeders Cup races just in the past couple weeks. It seems to always happen.

On a side note Steve, just watched Orfevre win in Tokyo, what an amazing colt, any chance we will see him come to the Breeders Cup. Probably wishful thinking on my part, not enough time between races........  

23 Oct 2011 3:08 AM
Criminal Type

Great story. I love Dylans quote, it remids me of what my grandmother once told me "behind every great man is a woman telling him what to do".

Coldfacts, I think your comments are sexist. A good colt will always beat a good filly. Sure, tell that to Curlin. Tell it to Macho Again. Here's a thought for you. If you thought Union Rag's trounced your beloved Alpha, imagine how much worse he would have been beaten had he been racing My Miss Aurelia, who, unlike Union Rags got a clean trip in the Frizette.

We have been blessed with some extraordinary fillies over the past few years. Im grateful that I was here to see them work their magic. Fleet Indian, Honey Ryder, Wait a While also come to mind from the past few years. Not that they accomplished the feats of the fillies you mentioned, Steve. But nice fillies. And we have a very nice crop of two yr old girls in Somali Lemondaid, My Miss Auralia, Weemissfrankie, Grace Hall and a couple more whos names excape me right now.

Here's another old saying from my granny "anything you can do I can do better". Ask my husband who refinished our hardwood floors : )

23 Oct 2011 5:44 AM
newsline2

Wonderful story. Pulling together those top racers makes for one impressive, contemporary list.

They give the sport a boost, at least in the US. Most Americans notice novelty and root for underdogs. How Zenyatta ever fit that criteria is a cultural statement but she did. Add age to the mix, an older animal--not too old and nevermind Zenyatta worked her own performance timeline--and she brought good attention and excitement to racing. In the US, we watched Rachel Alexandra sprint out front breaking open fame and glory. Then we were enchanted as we watched Zenyatta bring all it all home-for the sport. They opened the door for broader public appeal and continue to be racing's best ambassadors. (Kudos to their owners for going the extra distance.)

Fillies and mares running against males bring a special attention to US racing. US fans are learning about racing outside the US and its stars...female and male. That's good for the sport worldwide. Celebrating excellence.

Thanks for the story, Steve.

23 Oct 2011 6:01 AM
JerseyBoy

Arts and Letters:

I agree with you.

Gender in horses seems to be an American obsession.

If you look at the Beyer figures on the DRF Leaderboard, the gender of the females is shown with an F. But if you look at the Timeform updates you could not tell the gender of the horses.

Some rankings in America have separate lists for male and female.

When I place a bet, I never consider the gender of the horses. Why this is an issue I do not know.

Horses are either highly talented or they are not.

The only reason females are winning more big races is the fact that more are entered in those races because the prize money is much greater than the prize money in races restricted to fillies and mares.

23 Oct 2011 6:42 AM
Nell

Hey Steve

Thanks for a great article

Once mare I think you should also include is the awesome Sunline (NZ)

She race from 1998 to 2002

48 starts - 32-9-3 for nearly $14million (NZ)

She raced in NZ, Australia, Japan & UAE

Some othres facts:

- she raced & won over distances from 1100m to 2040m

- Unbeaten on home turf (11 starts 11 wins in NZ)

- unbeaten over 1400m (13 from 13)

- won 11 of her first 12 starts

- her last 36 races were nothing less than a group 2 over 4years

- won 27 groups races on 13 different tracks

- won 13 Group 1 races

- 4 times HOY in New Zealand

- 3 times HOY in Australia

- 2 times Australian middle distance champion

- Timeform's world champion turf mare in 1999

- Timeform's world champion female of 2000

- Won 2 Cox Plate (1999 & 2000 - came ssecond in 2001)

- Won 2 Doncasters (1999 & 2002)

- won the Hong Kong Mile in 2000 beating Fairy King Prawn

- New Zealand & Ausralia Hall of Fame

She was an champion through and through

Vale Sunline - 1995 to 2009

23 Oct 2011 6:43 AM
NASCAR PRO

I would guess that there are less female horses in the breeding world than males because males breed over and over while females are finished for the breeding season once they are preganant.The natural selection of females then would be of a higher quality of females being bred to the stallions that produce the most champions.I dont know if this means anything just thought I would post it.So I would think that there are lower number of female fillies that make it to the track than males,but the ones that do race have less soundness issues than the males that are allowed to race and try to overcome their health issues.

23 Oct 2011 8:15 AM
Susan from VA

Could it be the economy this time around?  Colts were once campaigned with an eye on astronomic stud fees, but now that stud fees are shrinking, maybe owners/trainers are focussing more on just winning races/money.  They are looking around for good horses, male or female, to buy and train.

23 Oct 2011 9:28 AM
MB1a32

And to think that when Rags to Riches won the Belmont, Pletcher was asked about her "femininity".

23 Oct 2011 9:32 AM
Pedigree Ann

In the US and somewhat in Europe, pressure is to have a male with a nearly perfect racing record and a G1 win or two so he can retire to stud with a CV that makes a good ad. This goal is at odds with giving a horse a proper campaign that prepares him to run his best on the big days. For a horse who doesn't figure to be a big-fee stallion, a few losses during the getting-fit period don't matter, like with Tiznow, so he keeps running. Ditto Cigar, Silver Charm, Free House, etc. This year, the horse of this sort is Stay Thirsty. They experimented with blinkers in Fla, it bombed, he lost badly, no one is devastated. Ran him in the Derby anyway, which helped him get fit for the Belmont and beyond.

The Aussies have this down to a science. Their Melbourne Cup horses start the season in sprints, gradually lengthening their races so by Cup Day, they have them ready. Sometimes the Cup horses actually win one of the shorter races (3x winner Makybe Diva won a G2 race at 7f), but mostly you hear about a 6th or 7th that was 'an excellent Cup trial.'

23 Oct 2011 10:43 AM
Coldfacts

Steve,

My post was not to find excuses for colts or to undermine exceptional fillies/mares. I cited two examples as the likely reasons fillies’ succeeded over their male counterparts. However, the real reason for the female dominance could lie in the dispelling of the belief that their male counterparts are superior.

In the not too distance past there was a widely held policy not to start fillies/mare against their perceived stronger, testosterone laden male counterparts. The public was consequently left with perception that fillies/mares were not equal or superior to their male counterparts. The truth be told, under the aforementioned policy they were kept apart consequently the females were not given an opportunity on a regular basis to prove equality or superiority.

Over the year the purses for major graded races both nationally and internationally have increased substantially. These races though open to both sexes were mostly contested by males.  With so much money to be won the connections of fillies/mares were more inclined to take their chances against the boys. These decisions have result in an increasing number of fillies/mares contesting these races. The previously suspected was now proving to be reality i.e., fillies/mares are just as good as their male counterparts.

In addition to fillies/mares being equal to their male counterparts they have the added advantage of a sex allowance in most if not all these big graded races. Did the 5lbs Rags To Riches receive from Curlin in the Belmont make a difference? I have always been against the sex allowances because of what thoroughbred history reflects. The most successful thoroughbred race horse in history is a female. The Hungarian Kincsem won a reported 54 races from 54 starts. The extent of female ability was on display in the 1915 Kentucky Derby. The filly Regret put a whipping on her male counterparts in what was her first start as a 3YO.

I am of the opinion that fillies/mares are just as good as their male counterpart. The tradition that has kept them apart contributed to the public’s ignorance of this. The Hungarian Kincsem is testament to capability of females.

There should be not surprise for those familiar with the idiom:  ‘ female of the species is more deadly than the male ‘

23 Oct 2011 10:46 AM
Coldfacts

JCRobinson,

Many thannks.

I knew she contested the KD/Preakness but I forgot the Belmont. How could I when she was trained by Triple Crown crazy Wayne Lukas.

23 Oct 2011 10:49 AM
WWSTP

Steve, I am so happy to see that someone is "getting" what is going on with the fillies and mares...and talking about it.  For whatever reason, the glass cieling is shattered and these girls are consistently breaking doors wide open.  While we take a good look at this, let's not forget how much harder these girls have had to work to get here, and how hard they will have to work to keep raising the bar.  It's huge, what is happening, and definitely deserving of genuine recognition.  While most of us were asleep, the fillies and mares have been changing horse racing!

23 Oct 2011 10:51 AM
Stellar Jayne

Could it be genetics?  The stallions are passing off their best genes to their daughters?  Especially when their genes combine with their dams lines who do not contain a concentration  of genes from Northern Dancer, Native Dancer, Raise A Native and other stallions whose lines have physical issues, whether from too much in-breeding or conformation flaws that show up in racing?

23 Oct 2011 11:02 AM
datflippinrabbit

And now there's Pika Pika in the Cox Plate down under.

23 Oct 2011 11:07 AM
davidr

This is quite a trend. The only other time that is comparable are the days of Allez France, Dahlia, Genuine Risk, Royal Heroine and Pebbles.'73 to '85.

23 Oct 2011 11:21 AM
Zen4Zen

I'm not so sure that the weight allowance for fillies and mares might not be revisited given these data, even if it has stood for a century.  Is the weight allowance the same in Europe and Asia as in the U.S.?  And does anyone know or have an educated guess as to why girls/women are less competitive v. boys/men in just about every sport (running, tennis, swimming, golf....) than their equine counterparts?  There may be an explanation in evolutionary biology but it eludes me.  

23 Oct 2011 11:34 AM
Storm Catwoman

Rowdee must be a man as size seems to be a big issue. LOL! This group of fillys and mares range from small to large. I understand Black Caviar is quite a big filly as well.

23 Oct 2011 11:42 AM
casaNM

Ditto SUNLINE!! Cannot write of Southern Hemisphere greatness (male or female) without including Sunline! She does not get the recognition she deserves--winning great races outside of her home country against male/females.JMO.Steve, I hope you will help share her acomplishments.

23 Oct 2011 11:44 AM
Karen in Texas

I think Jersey Boy may have a point--that more females are being entered in more big races against males possibly due to the larger purses--at least here in the U.S.

Nell---Glad you mentioned Sunline! I thought about her as well, but she ran before the six year cut-off date. She was phenomenal! Another special mare from that time frame was Ipi Tombe....

23 Oct 2011 11:57 AM
otterbird

What a delightful article.  The other great thing about a filly running against the colts is that it immediately gives a race a "human interest" angle, as we humans are obsessed with the age-old battle of the sexes.  I can't believe racetracks don't take more advantage of these opportunities when they come up.  Rags to Riches vs. Curlin was a great opportunity for NYRA to drive up attendance in a non-TC year, and they just let it slide.  Certainly Pletcher decided at the last minute, but they still had five or so days when they could have run commercials, sent out press notices, etc.  Heck, I'm sure NY1 would have done a piece on it at the very least.  It was a beautiful racing day, and a fantastic race with the fairy-tale ending, and the NYRA did nothing about it.  A lot of people missed seeing a great, great race with a fantastic stretch drive.

Filly vs. colts is a great way to get casual fans to the races, especially women, and for handicappers, it can sweeten the odds if they don't think the filly is the horse to beat, as the casual bettor is also a sentimental bettor and women love to cheer on their own in coed sports (four-legged or two).  Pants on Fire went off at something like 7-1 in the KD because of Rosie Napravnik riding him, not because he had that good of a shot at that distance (she's a terrific jockey and rode him as well as anyone could have, though).  Havre de Grace will likely be the favorite in the Classic because of women betting on her.  And that's fine.  It's good for the face of the sport, good for the handicappers in the sport; what's not to like about it?

23 Oct 2011 11:59 AM
txhorsefan

Thank you for highlighting all these fillies and mares who have been thrilling us the past few years!  Whatever the reasons have been that their connections decided to send them to the post with the colts, I applaud them.  It has been great to watch and enjoy, but the best part is that it isn't over yet with some of these youngsters coming up.  Thanks!

23 Oct 2011 12:33 PM
Deltalady

Someone enligten me: It seems to be de rigeur for females to race against the males in other parts of the world. I've noticed it in the UK, Ireland, France, and AUS the most.  

Makybe Diva routinely outclassed all her competition, but she lost a lot, too.  Nevertheless, she was able to race over 3+ years without seemingly losing the desire to go to the track.  After the Woodward, I don't think Rachel was the same again.  Goldikova is the iron lady with her ability to "show up" for each race.

So, is there a difference in the way the Euros and others CONDITION females to be able to run against the males without "wearing them out"?

23 Oct 2011 12:45 PM
Dawn in MN

Mr. Haskin,

Thank you for this interesting look at filly statistics.  Curlin and Rags to Riches' Belmont stretch duel was one for the ages.  

I always enjoy your columns, they are interesting and informative.  I don't always comment, but I always read them.  I usually read the comments and the work of other sports writers too.  I really appreciate your insights and the writing that shares them.

23 Oct 2011 12:47 PM
Blum Gone

Steve, astute observations.  Many of the women here already knew this information!  LOL

Nice "talkin' with" you via Internet Tues. afternoon.  FYI, here's a photo of Blum Gone, runner of 157 races, grandson of Dr. Fager.

www.indiegogo.com/Rockin-Horse-Retirement

23 Oct 2011 12:58 PM
smarie

It seems that, for some people in thos country, a filly can only be classified as realy good if she runs against and defeats males. So, what defines a really good male? Defeating other males? I like the European way of racing. Fillies regularly race the colts, and it is no big deal. I am enjoying watching and reading about the wonderful group of fillies and mares who are racing against and defeating males worldwide. I am glad too that owners in the U.S. are opting to race their fillies against the colts. These girls are proving themselves up to the task and then some. Great article, Mr. Haskin.

23 Oct 2011 1:01 PM
JerseyBoy

There was a time when the mark of a champion in Europe was winning the  Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.  So to make sure I  was not dreaming , I looked up the winners since 1972, to see whether fillies and mares had not been winning that race as often as I thought.

The female winners were:

1-San San

2-Allez France

3-Ivanjica

4-Three Troikas

5-Detroit

6-Gold River

7-Akiyda

8-Urban Sea

9-All Along

10-Zarkava

11-Danedream

That is 11 out of 42, or a 26% win rate. When one considers that only a few fillies and mares participate in the race, that is a remarkable win rate. So recent events do not show much of a change in the performance of female horses.

I maintain that fillies and mares are winning more top Open races because of greater participation in those races. It is not something out of the ordinary.

23 Oct 2011 1:10 PM
Arts and Letters

RE: 3 year old fillies running a mile and a half - they do it all the time in Europe.  The Oaks, Princess of Wales, Irish Oaks, Yorkshire Oaks, etc are are all that distance. We only think it's unique and difficult because of the North American focus on sprinting.

23 Oct 2011 1:20 PM
Paseana

And we have another!  I logged in this morning to read that 4yo filly Be Fabulous won the 15-furlong Prix Royal-Oak(GI) at Longchamp.

And Steve, she's another freakin' German-bred!  I swear....they seem to be coming out of the woodwork lately.  It appears that maybe the German breeding industry is starting to reap rewards from its pretty strict policies.

Let's not forget that, while this year's Derby winner Animal Kingdom isn't a registered German-bred, he is SOAKED in German blood on his bottom side.

I got sidetracked there a little bit...sorry.  The bottom line is that we have yet another GI-winning filly against the boys to celebrate today......and at just under 2 miles!  Sheesh....what's next?

23 Oct 2011 1:24 PM
Arts and Letters

Don't forget Miss Andretti, who beat the boys in the King's Stand.

23 Oct 2011 1:30 PM
Arts and Letters

And there's also Fleeting Spirit, who won the July Cup and Dar Re Mi won the Dubai Sheema Classic.  Lot's of fabulous fillies!

23 Oct 2011 1:44 PM
Gin

I loved the name of this article Steve.  Made me laugh.  So many great diva's we have seen and so many from the past.  We sure have been in for such a treat these fillies we have witnessed with our own eyes in their amazing feats.

From Pebbles in the inaugural BC thru Goldikova in the last BC. It is always so amazing how great these ladies are. ( Um I may be wrong, but I think it was the inaugural BC when Pebbles beat the boys, or maybe she was the first girl in BC to do so.  I just know she was one of the first.) The BC is the biggest stage of great horses in a day and we are in for wonder and amazement when a girl beats boys. A real pleasure to read this article.  

23 Oct 2011 2:15 PM
Sandy in Lexington

The Triple Crown is something that may or may not happen again, but I have to say that watching these "remarkable Amazons" the last few years was what triggered my renewed interest in horse racing as a whole and not just the Triple Crown series.  I attended the Breeder's Cup for the first time in my life in 2010 because of them.  I wanted to experience the thrill of Zenyatta and to see Goldikova cover that Mile so handily.  It wasn't about seeing them win or lose, it was about seeing them compete and knowing you were in the midst of something majestic, historical and so wonderful for the horse industry.  It's the same reason that I stood at Keeneland in 19 degree weather for 2 hours to welcome a beautiful mare to Kentucky to start her new career as a broodmare.  It's the same reason I'm attending the Breeder's Cup again this year...her name is Havre de Grace.  Thank you, Steve!  You are such a gifted writer!

23 Oct 2011 2:19 PM
Steve Haskin

Thanks for the input, I have added Be Fabulous to the story and also Dar Re Mi (Buena Vista was second so we had a 1-2 female finish).

As For Sunline, the story states the past 6 years and she ran prior to that. I didnt add Miss Andretti because the Kings Stand was a group II when she won it in 2007. I could add Fleeting Spirit, but there probably are other major female sprint winners. But I'll probably add her.

23 Oct 2011 2:53 PM
JerseyBoy

Wrong arithmetic.

At 23 Oct 2011 1:10 PM , I wrote

"11 out of 42, or a 26% win rate".

It should have been "11 out of 40, or 27.5 % win rate".

23 Oct 2011 4:12 PM
NYCRacingFan

PRIDE!!  She definitely falls within your timeframe.  Won the Prix de Saint-Cloud, Champion Stakes, and Hong Kong Cup and was 2nd in the Arc in 2006.  Think her 2005 season was competitive as well...

23 Oct 2011 6:12 PM
Linda in Texas

This was written Saturday when Steve had just posted it and there were 9 postings. I was afraid to post something as i did not want to appear vindictive against males. As there is no horse i dislike. So i post this on sunday while the Cowboys are ahead for a change and it is 6:13 EST.

Steve, when you put it to us so succinctly with names of races and names of fillies and mares who have won, it is a bit impressive.

My happiest time was when Rags to Riches won The Belmont. I had to pull over to the parking lot beside a Schlotzky's as i was a danger to others and myself trying to listen to the radio, cheer and drive and cry all at the same time. Third filly to ever win the Belmont, and the first in 102 years. I wonder how she is and what was her first foal's name who must be 2 or 3 at least, by now?

Steve, you are pitting the boys against the girls here and it is liable to get rough around the edges. But maybe we can be civil.

Very nice article. Especially with Black Caviar winning. I think she is beautiful and i love her name. Been checking for your latest and here you did not disappoint. Thank you.

Haynesfield won and i was glad for him. I don't think he was favored to win but i wanted him to.

Great Hot is a beautiful dark horse and won her race just barely  in what looked to me a photo. She has a beautifully structered head and body. Very sleek and compact. Lovely to look at and big soft eyes. Love her.

Flashpoint has been retired (bummer and a shame),a gray you see and i had high hopes for him and now Twirling Candy, by Candy Ride retired ironically on the same day Candyman E also by Candy Ride won his race in the DeFrancis Dash. Racing is chocked full of ups and downs. And the new

ones coming to fruition on the tracks are looking enticing for next year. Thank you anyone and everyone who devotes your life day in and day out bringing these wonderful creatures to let us enjoy.

And speaking of joy, Thank you Steve you are the best. Eventhough you are a male. :)

23 Oct 2011 6:17 PM
rowdee

Stormcat woman, I assure you, Rowdee is NOT a male.  The reference to size was thinking perhaps being lighter on the feet makes a difference.

I know how big Zenyatta is and she is definitely the exception to the rule.  Her stride must be about the same as her ancestor Man O'War.  Her heart has to be one of those huge oversized ones like Secretariat.  And her speed, or momentum, like that of Pegasus.

I believe most all the other mares that both Mr. Haskin and 'us', have been putting out here are more normal sized, like the boys, or a bit smaller.

No one has mentioned that perhaps training methods for the girls are changing.  Is that a possibility?

Regardless of reason, I, too, am thrilled to see them competing on a co-ed basis.  

Megahertz was a little mare and in Europe ran against boys.  I don't know if it was stakes level, or even if she won.  Frankel ran her here, at least once, with the boys and she came in third.  She ran a whole lot of races considering te number of races horsesw here seem to be running anymore.

23 Oct 2011 6:24 PM
Alicia McQuilkin

It does seem a little freaky that this streak is all over the world over a prolonged time span. It's been very noticeable in the past couple months with the major championship and prep races going on. Although from a genetics standpoint, great fillies are what you want in your broodmare band. Speed being passed through the maternal genes, you don't want a mare who never raced out of a mare that never raced, the offspring isn't likely to be speedy. We all know the stories of great racemares throwing duds, but how often does that really happen? Is it even statistically significant or is another superstition?

This may be only a random thought, but perhaps we're getting some more quality as of late because it's not worth it for owners to just put their late-bloomers out to be bred. Perhaps they're hoping to make at least a little money, get some numbers on the record so they can sell the offspring for something...and it's just a happy coincidence that some of these horses are blooming into something spectacular. Maybe this is the start to an even better selected generation of runners...faster mares, more proven studs, less non-producers.

23 Oct 2011 7:24 PM
renejr59

Steve: We seem to forget that the girls can always beat the boys. I remember Affectionately. Tosmah, Priceless  Gem  (beat my favorite horse, Buckpasser), Shuvee etc.

American racing should grow up and have all gender horses race against each other in meaningful races. Your opinion please.

23 Oct 2011 7:40 PM
Bill Two

It's interesting to note how many Arc winners have been female. Years ago I remember seeing the great female trotters Une de Mai and Roquepine win the coveted Roosevelt International trot while parked out for the entire mile and a quarter - or whatever the distance was.  This was America's greatest trotting race - better than the Hambletonian since it attracted the best trotters in the world - not just the best 3 yr. old American trotters.  At that time it was thought these great French trotters were anomalies since in the U.S. it was rare for females to compete against males -not only in thoroughbred racing, but harness racing too.  Then I saw Dahlia - another great French mare - who beat all comers in her day. Then All Along and April Run entered the picture and dominated turf racing for awhile.  It made me wonder why our fillies and mares couldn't also compete against the males.  Was it the way we trained them or just our reluctance to allow them to compete against males?  Whatever, after the last few years of watching these tremendous fillies and mares compete and beat males here and abroad I think they simply need to be given the opportunity to compete. Obviously there will be times when they are in estrus and unable to compete, but aside from that I see no reason to limit their exposure to their own sex.

23 Oct 2011 8:45 PM
JCRobinson

Coldfacts: you're welcome. And after all, Risen Star's performance did make the rest of that field forgettable.

23 Oct 2011 9:51 PM
sceptre

It's my sense that, in general, males have a decided edge over females on the dirt. On the turf this edge diminishes, because the footing, and sometimes undulating courses can favor the lighter framed runner. Also, female horses tend to mature earlier than their male counterparts, so as 2 yr. olds

females are less at their later disadvantage (on dirt). And, for what it's worth, in times past it appeared (to me) that the elite male runners (in the US) tended to possess better pedigrees than the US elite female runners. More recently, however, I see no such disparity (both are equally lesser bred than in times before). Lastly, I don't think that the males vs females on turf has changed. What may have changed is greater success for females vs males on dirt going a distance. We tend to no longer breed for classic-type distances, and for the male in particular, the "classic-type" physical frame tends to differ more markedly than their respective female counterparts. Just a hunch, but this may play into it as well.  

23 Oct 2011 10:36 PM
sidekickflats

I have to add one more.  The wonderful mare Ventura won the Woodbine Mile (Can1) in 2009 setting a new stakes record.

I know if you added all of the wonderful fillies and mares to the article it would go on for days but I couldn't help but mention Ventura as she was the first filly in 13 years to win that race.

I wonder if some of the reluctance of running fillies against the colts come from high profile breakdowns like Ruffian and Eight Belles.  Obv. those could happen anytime and anywhere but you sure don't see many match races since Ruffian/Foolish Pleasure.

23 Oct 2011 11:48 PM
Arts and Letters

Maybe now that there are so many grade 1 winning females, it will become a self-fulfilling prophecies.  Owners and trainers will see that fillies and mares can win the big races and will therefore start entering them in more, then they'll win more, and so on and so on.  Maybe that's already started, and we're reaping the benefits of it now.  It's a lot more fun when the fillies are running against the boys.

24 Oct 2011 12:22 AM
Arts and Letters

I found a few more that I think match your criteria:

Lockinge - Red Evie & Peeress

Grand Prix de St Cloud - Plumania

Prix Maurice de Gheest - Moonlight Cloud

Phoenix - La Collina & Saoirse Abu

Prix Jacques le Marois - Immortal Verse

Nunthorpe - Margot Did, La Cucaracha

Prix Morny - Silca's Sister

Sprint Cup - African Rose

Prix du Moulin - Darjina

Irish St Leger - Kastoria

Nearctic - Serious Attitude

Prix de l'Abbaye - Gilt Edge Girl

Prix Royal Oak - Allegretto & Montare

Criterium de St Cloud - Passage of Time

24 Oct 2011 12:59 AM
The Deacon

Maybe these are past the 6 year mark but Sightseek, Ashado and Halfbridled were pretty special as well.......

1972 produced the greatest filly ever, my favorite the immortal Ruffian........

24 Oct 2011 2:12 AM
Rachel NH

I think it's a return to normal...the first half of the 20th century was full of great fillies that regularly ran against males.

There's never been a decade that didn't have fillies running against the colts.

24 Oct 2011 6:43 AM
Coldfacts

In the not too distance past there was a widely held policy not to start fillies/mare against their perceived stronger male counterparts. The public was consequently left with perception that fillies/mares were not equal or superior to their male counterparts. The truth be told, under the aforementioned policy they were kept apart consequently the females were not given an opportunity on a regular basis to prove equality or superiority.

Over the year the purses for major graded races both nationally and internationally have increased substantially. These races though open to both sexes were mostly contested by males.  With so much money to be won the connections of fillies/mares were more inclined to take their chances against the boys. These decisions have result in an increasing number of fillies/mares contesting these races. The previously suspected was now proving to be reality i.e., fillies/mares are just as good as their male counterparts.

In addition to fillies/mares being equal to their male counterparts they have the added advantage of a sex allowance in most if not all these big graded races. Did the 5lbs Rags To Riches receive from Curlin in the Belmont make a difference? Did the 10lbs Master Of Hounds allow his female victor in the UAE F Derby make a difference? Is the sex allowance either necessary or fair? The most successful thoroughbred race horse in history is a female. The Hungarian Kincsem won a reported 54 races from 54 starts. The extent of female ability was on display in the 1915 Kentucky Derby. The filly Regret put a whipping on her male counterparts in what was her first start as a 3YO.

There were sufficient examples long before this six years dominance that fillies/mares were probably just as good as or sometimes better than colts/gelding. I am of the opinion that the tradition

that kept them apart from males on a wide scale prevented opportunities to for them to display their true capabilities. The signs were ominous from as far back as the 1800s. (Hungarian Kincsem ) ‘

24 Oct 2011 7:15 AM
Mary in VT

Good job, Steve! You certainly make a powerful case for females rising worldwide during the last 6 years. While I think that most of us had a general sense of this occurring, you put a very fine point on it, and compel us to think about why this might be the case.

Someone made an interesting point about the fillies not being pushed so hard early on since they aren't aimed at the Classics. We know that some stress on developing bones is good, but the grueling Classic schedule does leave a lot of colts by the wayside with a variety of injuries. While that may be a legit factor in the US, it would not effect this female rising trend worldwide unless other countries have their own grueling Classic schedule. Nor is it anything new since the Classics have been run a very long time and Steve points out a 6 year trend.

I find Susan from Virginia's comment regarding the shaky economy shifting emphasis more toward racing than breeding to be an intriguing point. When prices were high and buyers plentiful it seemed like people were just trying to get black type on a filly so they could whisk her away to the breeding shed because any black type was enough to sell her foals. Now it makes more sense to prove a filly a bit more in order to make her foals more marketable and breed less horses overall to match a decreasing demand. This economic downturn pretty much matches the timeline Steve discusses and it is also worldwide. Perhaps this trend is the result of ''stress is good" or at least useful.

24 Oct 2011 7:56 AM
Alexandra Boyd

Love all these great females. But what about Dance smartly she beat the boys to claim the 1991 Canadian triple crown. I love watching fillies take on the colts. And I think it should be done more often. Gone are the days where colts were thought to be better than fillies.

24 Oct 2011 9:32 AM
Storm Catwoman

Apologies Rowdee. No offense intended. But I have seen quite a few of these mares in person and can tell you that they are not always smaller than the males (Rachel vs Mine That Bird for one example). In general, yes, but there is a good range. And I'm not even including Zenyatta in this conversation as she is exceptional in every way. It would be great if someone put together a comparison chart of the sizes of graded-stakes winning mares and colts to see how it correlates or not.

I also would like to see this "trend", if you will, publicized in some way to bring more women into the game. We need all the help we can get and this seems like a natural. Something like NYRA's Web site for Belmont's Super Saturday that gives each horses stats, photos and videos of their races would be fantastic.

Steve,

Thanks again for another great article. I love the title too! After the weekend when Danedream, Sara Lynx and a few other stakes were taken down by fillies, I sent an email to my friends entitled, "Girls! Girls! Girls!" but I like yours better :)

24 Oct 2011 10:06 AM
Abigail Anderson

Steve: I just LOVED this article and, as others have said already, it was powerful seeing all of the statistics together. I also really have enjoyed the comments! And you are timely in raising this issue, as usual. I've been thinking about this trend since Rags To Riches' spectacular Belmont and it seemed overwhelming when I saw all the Euro & Southern Hemisphere fillies/mares stepping up in subsequent years.

I think your central question, though, is absolutely fascinating, i.e. What might account for this? Is it just a question of Mother Nature guiding thoroughbred evolution and tipping her hand to the girls? Is it related to genetic advances in breeding? Is it the legacy of outstanding thoroughbred sires and dams, like Urban Sea (Galileo, Sea The Stars), Northern Dancer (enough said there!), Sunday Silence, etc? Is it, in fact, an opportunity to study again the much-maligned "big heart" theory, that transmits apparently from sire to daughter to son? It would be AMAZING if someone like Ron Mitchell or Matthew Binns took the question on!

Finally, although she doesn't qualify in this time period, I would be remiss in not mentioning our Canadian sweetheart, the great Dance Smartly, who won the Canadian Triple Crown and the Breeders Cup in the same year, and went on to be a Blue Hen in the shed. I just wanted to see her name on your blog, along with the likes of All Along, Dahlia, Pebbles, Allez France and Azeri!

24 Oct 2011 10:12 AM
steve from st louis

I believe the poor world economy has something to do with the increasing success of fillies.

It's a numbers game. With a downturn in the economy, horsemen are more likely to race and campaign their fillies to build up  their residual breeding value.

24 Oct 2011 10:52 AM
tonka

Maybe the next TC winner will be a girl. Can't rule it out. Wouldn't that be an awesome accomplishment!

24 Oct 2011 11:38 AM
Deltalady

Several have made comments about the lack of publicity and missed opportunities to use the male vs. female races as a means to promote the sport.  That is a very good point and one that all of us should bombard both the NTRA AND the Jockey Club with, because the Jockey Club at its Roundtable in August committed considerable funds for implementing many of the recommendations of the McKinsey report at the annual confab. I noticed that the Jockey Club seems to be taking the lead on this rather than relegating promotion to its trade assn. the NTRA. What was strange to me is I did read that the NTRA has given up any TV promotions, that it doesn't have the funds. However, the Jockey Club is supposedly working to promote more TV coverage (I think they were instrumental in working out the tv coverage of the Keeneland races).  I'm hoping we get some coverage of the Derby Prep races in 2012!!  There was zero, zip, nada this year, and that is a real shame.  I'm getting off track as this is about the male vs. male issue, but it all ties in together.

One final point: Love BloodHorse and it is a primary source for info for me (and, of course, my favorite racing commentator, Steve Haskin!!), but, the DRF has done an outstanding job of its FREE live streaming of the Saratoga, Keeneland, Santa Anita, and the major races around the globe!  I'm pretty sure they will offer this during the Breeders Cup!! It is easy to access, no sign-up is required, no password, just visit the DRF site and it takes you to whatever coverage they have going on.  We can do our part by posting the web site on our various internet sites, Facebook etc. The internet is a great leveler....it does put some of the power in our hands to help promote the sport.  Let's get pro-active!!

24 Oct 2011 12:23 PM
jamesb

ahhhhhh........I still say if Gomez had only been riding Hard Spun instead of Curlin and Hard Spun, Rags to Riches would never have beaten.

I do like to see the girls beat the boys though.  Good thing Jerry Hollendorfer didn't train any of the fillies mentioned since he "doesn't believe in that."

24 Oct 2011 12:45 PM
RunnerGirl

To add insult to injury, how 'bout the one-two "girls" finish in the G2 Raven Run at Keeneland on Saturday.  Of course, these were two-legged girls: Chantal Sutherland on GREAT HOT over Greta Kuntzweiler on GROUPIE DOLL.

Definitely giving new meaning to "runs like a girl!".

24 Oct 2011 1:43 PM
Karen in Texas

Well, if others are continuing to mention fillies before the 6 yr. limit, then I want to add my personal favorite--Serena's Song! She was small, but beat the boys in the '95 Jim Beam Stakes and the Haskell. I travelled to Kentucky and New York that year to follow her career (and Thunder Gulch's) as she completed her 3-year-old season.

Abigail A.---I had been thinking about that "much-maligned big heart gene theory", too, after reading Steve's article and all the previous posts. With DNA testing being as advanced as it has become, and the equine genome map having been completed, there certainly should be testing undertaken in that area. The fact that it seems to be passed through females makes it an interesting area for looking at mitochondrial DNA as well as the nuclear type. Applying current scientific methodologies to thoroughbred breeding/genetics is very exciting to me.

24 Oct 2011 1:59 PM
KY VET

Is it GENETICS? NO!! People dont understand, that horses are like prehistoric animals....people believe the breed is weaker, and/or different than 20 or 30 years ago....Someone says it, people debate it, and now most of you think it to be a fact....."look how many horses get hurt nowdays!"   This is not the case....Which many of you still wont get.....YOU SIMPLY CANNOT CHANGE THE BREED,in 20 or 30 years! try 100s of years, to even make a small change in the horse....Genetics.....learn it!

24 Oct 2011 4:56 PM
GoldenBroom

I was just going to remark how impressive HDG's prep work is looking, thinking that it's no big deal that she's on poly, how fast and easy she seemed to have gone in her latest work ...but I just read how a bunch records are falling like leaves over at Keeneland. False sense of security...hmmmmm. Going to be some interesting racing the weekend after this!

24 Oct 2011 7:17 PM
Karen in Texas

KY VET--- Is WHAT genetics? I was specifically addressing the comment regarding the "big heart" theory that has been tossed around for years. Current science could probably actually find a gene or gene sequence responsible for that specific physiological occurrence should it in fact exist. I said nothing about the breed being weaker or different than it was 20-30 years ago. I said nothing about changing the breed. I was referring to a phenomenon that has been hypothesized for years and may now be provable. What I'm referring to would have existed for eons and has nothing to do with change. Genetics....learn it....really.

24 Oct 2011 7:39 PM
Linda in Texas

KiT this is LiT - i sometimes wonder if some of us people have our feet on the ground or planted firmly in the air. :)  

I know exactly what you mean and there certainly could be an answer with the enlarged heart theory.

I already note a bit of vindictiveness but not coming from me yet on the ladies against the gents. But it is slowly creeping in here.

Dancing Smartly was a lovely lady. I cannot believe she has been gone  4 years. I have a beautiful photo of her downloaded in my gallery of photos on my computer standing in the sun with her lovely dapples just glistening in the sun.

24 Oct 2011 10:00 PM
predict

I can't believe what is going on, I always remember, everytime I find myself liking a filly in a race I'm handicapping, the old saying "what do you call a horseplayer who bets the fillies against the colts?- broke" It's like this "law" that was somehow ingrained in me during my early years of horse racing handicapping. All I can say is thankyou Steve for making me realize it's time to stop thinking like this and it truly is a New World in so many ways. Excuse me, but I can't resist;................. YOU GO GIRL!

25 Oct 2011 12:39 AM
Pedigree Ann

Some of the reluctance to run fillies against colts in this country alone in the world devolves from Ruffian's fatal breakdown the first time she ran against a male. The race was broadcast on national TV as a major sporting event and the outcome shocked many. The fact that this was a match race, with very different race dynamics, doesn't seem to have made a difference - the lesson many took from the debacle was that fillies shouldn't run against colts.

But it didn't affect everyone. Fillies still ran in the Kentucky Derby (Cupecoy's Joy, Excellent Meeting, etc.), Jockey Club Gold Cup (Relaxing, dam of Easy Goer, was third to John Henry), Santa Anita H (Island Fashion, etc.), Vosburgh (My Juliet - she also placed in the Malibu and San Carlos H), and so on.

25 Oct 2011 10:16 AM
Age of Reason

    For the first time this year, I've read an objective comparison of Zenyatta with Havre de Grace, hallelujah!

    Havre de Grace's performance in the Classic will obviously impact history's perception of Zenyatta as well: If HDG wins, Zen loses something as the only horse to win the Classic. People will think, "Maybe it's not so hard after all."

    But, if HDG loses, especially badly, everyone's minds will immediately compare it to Zenyatta's last 2 runs in the Classic, making Zen look better in comparison to many.

    Bottom line: Every year a female wins the Classic, Zenyatta's "legacy" will be diminished because it will seem to be less difficult, in retrospect, every time it occurs again.However, history will be very kind to Zen every time another high-stature female loses the Classic,because they will be talked about in the media as "The filly So-and-so that lost the Classic, still leaving Zenyatta as the only female winner of the race". Just as we really didn't realize how special a Triple Crown winner was until War Emblem, Funny Cide, Smarty Jones, Big Brown & Co's. TC bids all went up in flames! In other words, there's really something to be said about the "One and only"; for example, Rachel Alexandra sent up worldwide flares winning the Woodward. This year when Havre de Grace won it, by comparison, there didn't seem to be nearly the media sensation (despite the fact, in my opinion, that she beat a noticeably better field.)It was like, "Oh yeah,filly wins Woodward.We've seen this before. Hoh-hum. (Yawn)."  

    Fantastic article, Steve! Enjoyed it, as always!

25 Oct 2011 11:59 AM
Weekend

Melair, she whooped Snow Chief

25 Oct 2011 12:18 PM
Giddyup

I think changes in how horses are trained and raced now have given the fillies and mares a chance to shine. Back in the 30s and 40s it wasn't uncommon to see horses race regularly on two weeks rest and that grueling regimen was just more than most of the fillies or mares could handle.

25 Oct 2011 12:38 PM
Karen in Texas

LiT and Abigail---My comments were in reference to the supposed X-factor heart, not to hearts enlarged by any sort of pathology. After reading further this A.M., I'm finding that Dr. Binns has apparently decided that the X-factor female linkage does not exist; but that Dr. Gus Cothran thinks it may. Dr. Binns apparently formed his opinion through his work on the equine genome mapping project.

25 Oct 2011 12:48 PM
Linda in Texas

There is a nice article going back to the 1700's that might be interesting and goes along with Karen in Texas's comment.

The link is: www.sport-horse-breeder.com/large-heart.html.

Discusses the x gene factor, etc.

25 Oct 2011 2:59 PM
Criminal Type

Giddyup, That doesnt seem to be the case in Europe and elsewhere where they ran back in a week or two all the time. Fillies included.

25 Oct 2011 3:30 PM
Arts and Letters

If you look at a herd of horses from a distance, you usually can't tell the males from the females.  In the wild, males and females seem to keep up with each other just fine.  Unlike some other mammals, any difference between male and female horses seems to be negligible.  

25 Oct 2011 9:18 PM
TerriV

All these beautiful, talented fillies just make racing more fun and exciting.  Great article, Steve, and seeing it all organized and written down is very impressive.  All the vague thoughts that have been floating around in my head about the seeming emergence of filly talent are right there in your article.  Can't wait to watch them run this year at BC 2011!!!

27 Oct 2011 9:28 AM
Paddy

I hear what you're saying, Steve, and I'm thrilled that you're talking about the emergence of fillies and mares in the Grade 1 stakes.I believe this is the beginning of filly/colt equality. Soon, the gender won't matter as much as the talent. Our North American belief that the female of any species is weaker or inferior is finally being put to rest. Since 1884,beginning with Miss Woodford, there have been a total of 12 filly or mare Horses of the Year. There have been other fillies who deserved that honor but were overlooked or outvoted. A case in point,1972. The two horses up for the vote that year were both 2 year olds.  La Prevoyante was  undefeated in 12 starts over 7 racetracks. Secretariat had won  7 of 9 races (including a disqualification for lugging in). Had La Prevoyante been an undefeated colt, I wonder if the vote would have gone the other way? At any rate, I'd love to read an article written by you on this amazing filly, in spite of her sad ending.

28 Oct 2011 12:29 PM
Slew

"I am woman, hear me roar.."  Yup.  Richest horse in the world...

Makybe Diva at over $12 million.

Curlin follows with a shade over $10 million, followed by Cigar, just slightly short of $10 million.

According to biology in humans, males have extreme strength and aggressive tendencies, while females exhibit more stamina and instinctively take tactical advantages.  Years ago in a NASA study, it was determined that the best candidate for space travel was a pregnant woman, because of her endurance and stamina.

In the horse racing world, however, perhaps the change is not in the horses but in the American perspective.  The fillies and mares have probably been more than capable of competing with the males, we just haven't recognized that fact until the past 10 years.

Perhaps when an Amazon like Zenyatta walks out on a track, we may think she stands a good chance of winning.  But we probably underestimated Lady's Secret's chances simply because of her small stature.  Maybe we're just simply finally waking up to the possibilities, and finally recognizing the capabilites we've ignored for too long.

And I, too, think that the economic situation may be somewhat responsible for prodding us awake.

All I know for certain is that the past few years have been the most exciting since the '70's.  And the gutsiest ride I've ever seen from any jockey was Rosie Napravnik in the Kentucky Oaks on St. John's River...that was mind-bending!

28 Oct 2011 2:33 PM
Apapane

Regarding why this trend may be occurring I found this from an article (October 28, 2011) in the New York Times titled 'Goodbye Lasix, and Good Riddance'.

"The removal of anabolic steroids has already improved safety while allowing female racehorses to run with the ranks of males."

Make sense to me. What say you Steve?

29 Oct 2011 2:48 AM
Cassandra.Says

Touched a nerve here. One poster argues building an appealing sire resume means the boys are run too hard and often, another that the boys are not run often enough, the need to embellish their record for their stud career making their handlers risk averse.

The main reason fillies don't beat males more often is that they are not entered. A few shining precedents have greatly increased the likelihood that the people with a good filly or mare will consider unrestricted races on a regular basis.

In Europe, it was thought that a three year old filly in the fall, almost fully mature and past the breeding season (no longer coming into heat every three weeks) had her best chance of beating males, and that she also had her best chance going long, where muscularity was not important. A horse moves its own weight as well as its rider's, and light-framed fillies have a "weight advantage."

30 Oct 2011 1:33 AM
Slew

Apapane...Lasix is not a steroid, but a diuretic....so it would seem to be a faulty conclusion based in an inaccurate fact.

But...if we discontinue use of Lasix, there's a better chance of competing on the world stage, more often, and improving the foals bred by non-drug influenced stallions and mares.

02 Nov 2011 8:27 AM

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