Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The retirement of Black Caviar: farewell to a legend

The parade of international stars began a few short years ago. Deep Impact. Vodka. Zarkava. Sea the Stars. Canford Cliffs. Goldikova. Frankel. As the procession passed by, each star shone a little brighter until we reached Black Caviar. From her modest beginnings in spring 2009, Black Caviar had improved with every race run and every year gone by until at last, her star shone so brightly that it was seen around the world.

Until suddenly, the light of her star is but a memory. As of today, Black Caviar is retired.

It was January of 2010. I do not remember why or how, but my husband and I found ourselves staying up late one night to watch a dark beauty from Australia. As a turf sprinter, she was something of an oddity for us cut-and-dried American race fans. But there was nothing strange about her once she sprung from the gates and flowed into motion, for the beauty of her style transcended boundaries. From that moment on, it was clear to me that Black Caviar was something very special.

Due to international time zone constraints, it was not possible for us to watch every single race of hers live. We tried hard, however, and I cannot count the number of times we stayed up until the wee hours of the morning, awaiting her presence on our television screen. Once, in the middle of a late night/early morning drive to Louisville, we pulled into a restaurant parking lot to watch Black Caviar race on my husband’s smartphone. The date was November 6, 2010, and we were en-route to watching another dark bay mare run her final race at Churchill Downs. That day, Black Caviar remained undefeated while Zenyatta did not, but it was a date to remember.

How can a single horse so captivate people around the world? Was it her color—that near-black, glossy dark bay, with the distinctive pink and black polka dot silks? Was it her enthusiasm before each race, which was so clear in the way she tossed her proud head? Was it her great gliding stride, which carried her over the turf with devastating ease? Was it the aura of unearthly perfection that she possessed, which traveled through time and boundaries and into living rooms around the world?

We are always in search of perfection, yet it is seldom found. In Black Caviar, we got a very rare long look at perfection in its most brilliant form. Only one horse has been undefeated in more than 25 starts: the great 19th-century Hungarian mare, Kincsem, who was unbeaten in 54 races. In addition, of Black Caviar's 25 races,  24 were graded/grouped stakes and 23 were against males, which makes her accomplishments all the more remarkable.

Thanks for the memories, "Nelly", it was a privledge and a great honor to watch you run.

1 comment:

Lauren said...

Such a cool horse.