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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

All Maidens are Not Created Equal

Perpetual maiden horses have always been a fascination to me, as long time blog readers know. For years I’ve marveled at the futile efforts of Four Acres, a gelding last seen running at Suffolk in late 2007. His 75 consecutive winless races is matched in ineffectiveness by the mare Diamond Kind, followed by others such as Breeze the Weasel (59) and Linda’s Lass (43).

Former Mountaineer regular Quinella Queen celebrated—in elegant prose and with appropriate libations on track—when a ten-year-old gelding named Punk broke his maiden—in his 69th start.

While most long-term maidens toil in racing’s bottom ranks, sometimes more talented horses take an exceedingly prolonged period to breakout—whether due to overly-ambitious placing or just bad luck. These maidens are certainly not of the same ilk as those mentioned above, and a prime example is the 4-year-old Australian mare Glowlamp .

By Encosta De Lago out of the Shirley Heights mare Push a Venture, her second dam is a half-sister to the great Riverman.

As a 2-year-old she caught my attention in her first effort, finishing a narrow third behind Portillo and Rock Me Baby in the listed Gimcrack Stakes at Randwick. After placings in the G2 Silver Slipper and G3 Sweet Embrace, she narrowly missed in the G1 Sires Produce, finishing fourth behind subsequent champion 2-year-old colt Sebring and champion 2-year-old filly Samantha Miss. One week later, in the G1 Champagne, she earned third, again behind Samantha Miss and Sebring. Her 2-year-old record: 6 starts, 0 wins, 1 second, 3 thirds (all but one in graded stakes).

Her 3-year-old campaign started promisingly with a narrow second placing behind Samantha Miss in the G3 Silver Shadow. Still, a victory proved elusive, although she placed third in the G2 Tea Rose, G1 Thousand Guineas, and G2 Light Fingers. Her 3-year-old record: 12 starts, 0 wins, 1 second, 3 thirds (again, all but one in graded stakes).

A $1.4 million yearling purchase, she has raced repeatedly against the best horses of her generation (Sebring, Samantha Miss, Love and Kisses, Portillo, Miss Scarlatti, Gallica, Purple, and Daffodil), with her poorest efforts coming on wet (slow/heavy) tracks and over 10 furlongs. Yet, as impressive as her efforts have been, she is still a maiden.

On Tuesday, August 25, as a recently-minted 4-year-old, Glowlamp made her 19th career start, in a measly $27k maiden plate going 5.5f.

She won.

A maiden no more, she's nominated for the G1 Cox Plate on October 24, but no firm plans about her next race have been announced.


D.S. Williamson said...

What a refreshing article and quite aptly titled. It does make you wonder why some horses take so long to find their niche in the racing world. I guess we need to be thankful to the owners and trainers who persevere with their maidens. D.S. Williamson

gyongmaman said...

There's a horse here in Korea called To The Champ. At his 12th attempt he finished in the money for the first time. In his 15th, he placed.

In June this year, in his 39th start, he was last entering the stretch but suddenly began to pass every horse until he found himself in front with a few metres to go. He held on. His jockey, who'd ridden him in all but a few of those previous 38 went crazy and the Korean crowd - not generally a sentimental lot - applauded.

One of the most memorable moments at the track this year. Of course, having won, he's had to go up in class and in his two starts since - he ran today in fact - normal service has been resumed.

Valerie said...

Thank you for your comments! And what a great story, gyongmamn. People love when the underdog wins no matter where you are in the world :-)