By Teresa Genaro of Brooklyn Backstretch
This Ones for Phil's victory at Gulfstream in the Sunshine Millions
Dash over the weekend has occasioned much conversation about the horse's
massive improvement. How could this horse have run this race? What's with the trainer change? Oh, that Dutrow again-look what he's done.
On websites and bulletin boards, the chatter, the accusations
proliferate, detractors and defenders rushing to promote their views.
What, I wonder, would folks have made of Searching?
At age two, Searching (War Admiral - Big Hurry, by Black
Toney) made thirteen starts but never made it to the winner's circle. She finished second once and third six
times. William Robertson tells us what
As a three-year-old (in 1955),
she resumed her frustrating pattern.
Seven straight times she was in the money without winning the main part,
and after she finished second five successive times owner Ogden Phipps sold her
to Hirsch Jacobs for $15,000. Naturally, Searching won first out for her new
Not too long before this, Jacobs had made headlines when he
claimed Stymie for $1,500 and subsequently trained him to a Hall of Fame career,
during which Stymie won over $900,000.
Apparently for Hirsch Jacobs, lightning did strike twice.
Fourteen months after Jacobs purchased Searching, there was
no trace of the 0-20 maiden of the previous year, as noted by James Roach in
the New York Times:
There's a new pet in Hirsch
Jacobs' barn. She's a 3-year-old filly,
and her name is Searching.
When a visitor goes to her stall,
she lifts a front foot in greeting and then shifts her weight and lifts the
other one. It's a pleasing bit of business.
Also pleasing to members of the
Jacobs family is the way Searching has learned to pick ‘em up and put ‘em down
in a race. In today's Saratoga feature...she won for the sixth time since Jacobs bought her for $15,000 last June.
At the time of her purchase,
Searching was a nonwinner...For the Jacobs family...she has collected $22,650 in a
little more than two months.
too long, trips to the winner's circle in major stakes races became a matter of
course for Searching and her connections:
At three, the filly won the Vagrancy and the Gallorette; at four, the
Diana, the Maskette, the Top Flight, and the Correction; at five, the Distaff
and the Gallorette (again); at six, the Diana (again), the Molly Pitcher, the
Matriarch, and the Correction (again).
On her first victory in the Diana, in 1956, James Roach
As every racetracker knows,
Jacobs is the man who holds the international record for being lucky as a
horse-purchaser. He claimed Stymie for
$1,500 and won more than $900,000 with the old boy.
Slightly more than a year after being purchased as a
perpetual loser, Searching had fifteen wins, including five stakes races, to
Two years later, Searching won her second Diana, and by this
time turf writers were acknowledging not only her astonishing record, but her
Searching, a little mare with a
streak of gameness, became the twentieth winner of the $27,250 Diana Handicap
today...Searching weights only 950 pounds and stands fifteen hands high. She won the race in 1956 and was beaten a
head by Pardala last year. (Conklin)
carried the top weigh of 123 pounds, giving seven pounds to the runner-up
Endine, and eleven to Rare Treat, who finished third.
the ages three and six, Searching hit the board in twenty-five stakes races,
making a total of 89 lifetime starts and compiling a record of 25 - 14 - 16,
earning $327,381. She bore eight
foals--seven winners, three of them stakes winners-and was inducted into the
Hall of Fame in 1978. Not bad for a
horse who broke her maiden in her 21st start.
0 for 20 filly moving from one well-known trainer (Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons) to
another (Hirsch Jacobs), utterly reversing her winless form and beginning a
career that would land her in the Hall of Fame.
Imagine the conversations if that happened today...
William R. "Searching
Defeats Endine by Half-Length in Diana Handicap at Saratoga." New
York Times. 21 Aug 1958. 16 Jan 2008.
Roach, James. "Searching,
5 - 1, Saratoga Victor." New York Times. 10 Aug. 1955. 16 Jan.
Roach, James. "Searching
Triumphs By Two Lengths in $28,000 Diana Handicap at Saratoga." New
York Times. 23 Aug 1956. 16 Jan 2008.
Robertson, William H.P. The History of Thoroughbred Racing in America.
Bonanza Books, 1964.
Genaro writes regularly about New York racing
at Brooklyn Backstretch.