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.

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