By Briana Mott
"Too easy" were the words of choice after Black
Caviar's first run over 1,400 meters. The 5-year-old powerhouse that has taken
over sprint races in Australia silenced her doubters on Feb. 11 by adding
another 200 meters to her winning distance range. She ran against some of the
best including the Caulfield Cup winning mare, Southern Speed, the million
dollar-winning colt Playing God and Efficient, the only other horse to win both
the AAMI Victorian Derby (Aus-I) and Emirates Melbourne Cup (Aus-I) since the
Australian legend Pharlap. Unfortunately for these horses, they were no match
for the mighty mare. As she bumped her impressive record up to 18-0 with
earnings exceeding Aus$4.5 million, the impressive crowd showed its support by
the sea of pink and black polka dots. Everything from ties, hats, t-shirts, and
dresses in her silks colors, people flocked from every corner of Melbourne and
beyond to see another page in history.
As an American traveling in Australia, I know how lucky I am
to see this fantastic animal show her talent. I first witnessed her on a Friday
night at Mooney Valley racecourse when she sauntered past the wire to win the
Australian Stakes (Aus-II) over 1,200 meters. One of the smaller racecourses in
Melbourne, Moonee Valley had to open the gates up with free admission as they
feared the growing crowd would not be able to get through before she raced. It
is easy to say this mare brings people to the tracks just as our great mare
Zenyatta did. The next Friday night, the same Moonee Valley was unrecognizable
compared to her race night. On that evening the mounting yard was barely
"standing room only" as she paraded before her adoring fans, but that
next week it seemed a ghost town.
On Feb. 11, again she brought the crowd to the track.
Children wearing "I [heart] BC" T-shirts, men in
suits with pink and black polka dot ties, and the black and pink flags waved
all over Caulfield's grand stands.
Huge banner's lined the stands with such words as, "Black Caviar:
Gone in 57 seconds," "OMG BC!," and "Black Caviar Made in
Victoria." As each race passed, you could feel the energy and excitement build
just a little bit more as the sixth race closed in. Leaving the gate with the
best jump she has ever had, Black Caviar stayed close to the leaders. Rounding
the turn she began to ease up alongside the leaders, and as the crowds cheers
began to heighten she unleashed her trademark blistering turn of foot resulting
in an astounding 10.6-second furlong, which gave her a three-length lead as she
coasted to the finish line.
This special mare has yet to stretch herself out in a race as
the jockey has never been required to use the whip to call on her reserves.
Black Caviar remains the best sprinter in Australia and as many would say the
world. As her trainer Peter Moody prepares her for the foreign meets at Ascot
and possibly Dubai he talks of staying at or under the 1,400-meter mark. Her
next achievement could happen sooner than we think as Moody talks about
bringing her back Feb. 18 at Flemington Racecourse for the 1,000-meter Coolmore
Lightning Stakes (Aus-I) followed by the Futurity Stakes (G1) at Caulfield on
the 25th of February. Wins in both these races would result in a record
breaking 20-0 career never achieved in Australasia.
As a racing fan from the younger generation, I really only
have one horse to compare the experiences I've witnessed so far with Black
Caviar. Our most recent American racehorse legend, the great mare Zenyatta. I
watched as she grew her record to 19-0 and saw her live as she took on the 2010
Breeder's Cup Classic (gr. I) at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. I've never
felt such electricity as I did in those stands as she rounded the last turn
onto the stretch.
Just as Zenyatta brought fans to the tracks as well as their
televisions, Black Caviar does the same in her home country. As "Z"
was and still is loved by everyone in the United States, Black Caviar or better
known by her stable name Nellie is cherished by young children and grown men alike
here in Australia. As her fan numbers continue to grow on Facebook, it's easy
to see that what Zenyatta did for the American racing is being mirrored by
Black Caviar here in Australia.
American race goers looked at Zenyatta as just what our industry needed
to get people interested once again. Although very different industries and
horses, Black Caviar and Zenyatta are two champions that help the racing world
grow in success. We all know that these champions don't come around very often
and they need to be cherished and celebrated. This is exactly what I will be
doing come Feb. 18 if she steps out to equal the Australasian record at 19-0,
the same mark as that of our own great mare Zenyatta.
An interview with Black Caviar's jockey Luke Nolan, prior to the Goup I Lightning Stakes.
Editor's Note: Black Caviar
tied the record for consecutive victories in Australasia and almost set
a course standard in the process when she won the group I Lightning
Stakes at Flemington Feb. 18 on six days’ rest. The still undefeated daughter of Bel Esprit broke alertly in the straight 1,000-meter
stakes (about five furlongs) but ended up between two others in a speed
duel. Hay List
held a narrow lead until the final eighth of a mile, but jockey Luke
Nolen asked Black Caviar for run and she responded to pull away by about
1 3/4 lengths.
All photographs taken by Briana Mott.