Monday, January 24, 2011

Mighty Miesque

With the prominence of Goldikova over the last three years in the Breeders' Cup Mile and the fact that she is now probably the finest horse currently in training in the world, it is ironic that we all learned of the passing of Miesque last week at the age of 27. It is all the more ironic when you consider that Freddie Head, the man that rode Miesque in all but one of her sixteen lifetime starts, is the trainer of Goldikova. That means that Head has been associated with two of the finest distaff milers that we have seen since the advent of the Breeders' Cup in the 1980s.

Miesque was the first horse ever to win the same Breeders' Cup race in back-to-back years, scoring in the Mile in 1987 and 1988. Goldikova is the first horse ever to win the same Breeders' Cup race in three consecutive years, winning the Mile in 2008, 2009, and 2010. The connections between the two are nearly uncanny. You must remember that Miesque was more than just those two straight wins in the Mile. She was maybe the finest miler produced by Europe until her near-doppelganger, Goldikova, came along twenty years later. She lost twice at the distance, it is true, but one of those came over soft going at Longchamp and the other came in the lone race that Head didn't ride her, the 1987 Group I Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot, in what was a rare trip outside of France for her. Oddly enough, both of those losses came in the starts immediately preceding her triumphs in the Breeders' Cup Mile. Maybe that is why she entered both of those Cup races as not the betting favorite. In 1987, she cruised to a 3 1/2 length victory, while the favorite, Sonic Lady, ran third. In 1988, she dominated the field and won by four widening lengths in a tour-de-force performance, while the favorite, Warning, ran 11th of twelve starters, one of which was the winner of the Belmont Stakes the year before, Bet Twice. It was a fitting way to put an exclamation point on her magnificent career. By the way, her nearest competition in the 1988 Mile, Steinlen, would return to win the race in 1989.

Here is the link to watch the replay of the 1988 Mile victory by Miesque: Tune in tomorrow for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

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