Is Winx the Best Thoroughbred Racehorse on Earth? You Bet.
Winx is the sole member of her own species–the number of members of which is–one.
Yesterday, Winx, the otherworldly daughter of Street Cry, met Black Caviar’s record of 25 consecutive victories when she trounced the “competition” at Randwick and, by 3 3/4 lengths–took the Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
Is Winx the Greatest Female Grass Horse in the world? No: Leave out the adjectives, “female” and “grass”–and you’ve got her real title, “Greatest Horse in the World.” Because, those adjectives, even standing alone, are insulting. But put together, following the name of she–who is unquestionably The Best Thoroughbred on this planet–and “female grass” are used to diminish her achievements, and therefore–the horse, herself.
Winx won. Again. Phew. A thrilling race to watch, to be sure. A mesmerizing career to follow. Like every other horse writer on this planet–I pray every night that her owners would dub ME as the author to write the great Winx’s biopic.
Loves me some Black Caviar: I was on-board for her entire career, and cried when Nelly retired from the oval. I know, I know–I guess I just wanted to see her race forever. Watching Nelly run was like seeing poetry unfold before my eyes and heart.
Nelly always will hold her own place in my heart, right next to my grrrl, Rachel Alexandra.
But even the hearts and brains of hardcore, lifelong horse racing fans must make way for new heroines and heroes to come in, and–by their participation and extraordinary achievements–move this sport fully into the 21st Century. God knows, the administrators who get paid more than I do–always have their ears bent toward the latest “wisdom” doled out to them by 20-something, White boys who wear bow ties and “gambler” and porkpie hats. These “marketing geniuses” who somehow have gained the favor of so many in racing–seem to give but one piece of advice: Alcohol + fashion shows + iPhone apps = marketing the Sport of Kings.
Problem with this short-sighted, juvenile-driven single-mindedness is that, well, it’s single-minded. The emphasis is on the look–the bodies–the supposed heat–that’s generated by humans. The concept that horse racing is about, well, horses, racing–is lost in the rush to cash in on the fashion, cigars, technology and posing of being at the races. While their disciples are drinking on the third floor of Keeneland–the world’s most beautiful animals are racing outside.
Such a waste of time, energy and money. And oh, so silly, to listen to (and spent Big Bux on) the ideas generated by youths whose racing credentials began the day American Pharoah won the Triple Crown. The answer to horse racing’s money/popularity/image dilemma–and the ONLY reliable key to get this sport safely and successfully into this 21st Century–is–wait for it–horses.
And here we are, in April of 2018, with The Perfect Horse right before us! Winx, the uncontested Queen, has just given a perfect gift: she met Black Caviar’s record, and rocketed herself into the stratosphere of equine deities. Winx is a Horse for the Ages.
IF horse racing administrators around the world–NOT just in Oz–have a single functioning brain cell–they’ll all figure out ways to capitalize on Winx’s extraordinary role in international horse racing history.
But this is the part of my plan where people scoff–laugh at me and my ideas–and generally dismiss this entire article. This is the part at which too many American horse racing admins/fans/writers/producers/trainers/etc.–let their 19th Century ideas take over, and stomp all over Reality.
Reality is that, Winx IS the greatest horse on Earth.
Reality is that, YES, Winx if a female horse. (Oh, my GOD.)
Reality is that, Winx races on grass.
And to top it off–that grass is halfway around the world. And everyone in America knows that–the only horse racing that counts is that which happens in the United States. (Isn’t America the exact center of the Earth?)
And, since Australia is ‘Way Over There–where we Americans can’t see it–for all intents and purposes–Australia, and Australian racing doesn’t exist. (Well, if it does exist–does it really count?)
Even those American racing media folks who acknowledge and love Australian racing have a hard time saying that any Ozzie horse could be as good as any critter bred, grown and raced right here in the Good Ole U.S. of A. (Hmmm…I wonder what this attitude says about Phar Lap, and the popularity he enjoyed in North America, in the first third of the 20th Century?)
Ahhhh, but the part that American turf media professionals and trainers, alike, will argue…it’s not about Oz, being on the bottom of the Earth. It’s about the one-two punch: that Winx is–gasp!–a female. And she races on grass.
For some idiotic reason, American horse racing by-and-large holds disdain for grass, and grass horses are considered (generally) not to be “as good” as those whose careers are built on dirt. And that really is an idiotic notion, because–news flash–the majority of the rest of the world races on grass. Up-and-downhill, at that. Sometimes, straight, out, flat–for two miles.
So in order for Winx to earn the respect she deserves by too-many in American racing–she’d have to run her next 25 races on dirt. In America. To “prove” herself to the Doubting Thomases of American racing.
And she’d have to change her gender. There’s just a lingering thing in the United States–an Old Man’s Attitude that’s left over from the 19th Century–that females can’t compete with males.
And, when/if they do compete against the males in American Thoroughbred racing, and win–they’re “freaks.”
Or, at best–they’re a really good female horse.
So here’s the deal: as Christophe Clement said in 2005, in Europe, females compete against males all the time. Big freakin’ deal. (My paraphrase.) Ibid., Australia.
So, America: get over it. Join this century, and enjoy the view from here. This–this–is the only way that horse racing in America is going to thrive, and bring in new devotees–lifelong fans. By acknowledging that ours is the sport that features the most beautiful athletes on Earth.
And definitely, the fastest.
And that fully half those fastest athletes are females. And that’s not cool, because it’s just not even a thing anywhere but here.
Winx is NOT the Greatest Female Grass Horse on Earth.
Winx is The Greatest Horse on Earth. Period.
Until every American media pro, trainer and fan can say the sentence above, without the qualifying adjectives (“female,” “grass”)-–American Thoroughbred racing will continue to struggle with numbers of paid admissions, and wagering.
Those who fail to see this connection are doomed to spend their forced retirement sitting in the Clubhouse, puffing on Cohibas with Zippy the Pinhead–insisting that the bag of goods they were sold (that their iPhone is more compelling than an actual race, right in front of them) really was a good idea.
A race of of 10, 1,200-pound animals whose beauty cannot be captured by any technology, anywhere–but which can be seen, felt and experienced fully only when the heart–and brain–are fully opened to the experience
Winx. Greatest Thoroughbred on Earth. Embrace this, and American racing has a chance.
Deny her her due because of her gender, location or surface: an outmoded, silly, fool’s philosophy.
And those of us who are moving forward just don’t have time for all your 19th Century, America-centric nonsense.
Winx, winning the Queen Elizabeth Stakes, 14 April 2018. Courtesy of Mark Gatt / Blood-Horse