Step Aside, Zenyatta. Black Caviar is the new “It Girl”
By Valerie Grash
If you haven’t yet witnessed Aussie superstar Black Caviar in action, you’re missing quite simply the fastest sprinter in world according to the 2010 World Thoroughbred Rankings, as well as her ever-growing number of fans. Like the great Makybe Diva who won three consecutive Melbourne Cups and back-to-back Cox Plate victress Sunline, Black Caviar has reached legendary status Down Under—with nothing less than world domination on the horizon.
Her immense talent was evident early. In her first-ever track appearance as a juvenile—an 800-meter (4-furlong) barrier trail at Cranbourne in March 2009—she effortlessly won in a sharp 46.10:
Now this 4-year-old mare is a perfect 10 for 10 after dominating the March 11 open company Group 1 Newmarket Handicap, Australia’s most prestigious sprint race (first contested in 1874). Carrying 58 kilos (127.6 pounds)—a full 17 pounds more than runner-up Crystal Lily, last year’s Group 1 Golden Slipper victress—Black Caviar won the 1200-meter (6-furlong) event in stakes-record time of 1:07.36—just .2 seconds off the track record…without ever being asked to run. Her final 600 meters (3 furlongs) went in an astonishing 32.67 seconds, leaving race commentators stunned by the realization that jockey Luke Nolen has merely tapped the surface of her capabilities.
Through both her sire and dam, Black Caviar is a blueblood product of the great Northern Dancer bloodline—his sons Nijinsky topside and Danzig below. Her Aussie-bred and raced sire Bel Esprit was a Group 1 winning sprinter, while her unraced dam is out of the multiple-Group 1-placed Snippets mare Scandinavia who has produced the nice Group 2 Schillaci winner (now sire) Wilander, as well as the dynamic Group 1-winning Magnus (also trained by Peter Moody). After winning the 2007 Group 1 Galaxy, Magnus embarked on an international campaign, finishing third behind track-record setting Miss Andretti in the ENG-G2 King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot before failing to place in both the ENG-G1 Golden Jubilee and ENG-G1 Nunthorpe stakes. A second trip abroad in 2008 resulted in a narrow second-place finish behind Takeover Target in Singapore’s Group 1 International Sprint.
Thus far, Moody has been adamant that Black Caviar will not be campaigned internationally. Instead, her connections have targeted four more Group 1 races this season, beginning with the March 25 William Reid Stakes at Moonee Valley, and followed by the April 9 TJ Smith at Royal Randwick in Sydney.
Exactly who will dare challenge her is a quickly dwindling number, but chatter has began on Twitter regarding a possible “match race” between her and Gai Waterhouse-trained More Joyous, winner of 12 of 16 starts, between 1100 (5.5 furlongs) and 1600 (8 furlongs) meters. In at least two of her four losses, More Joyous had legitimate excuses, including a slipped saddle and failing on an extremely heavy track. Last year she won two Group 1 mile races—the George Main and the Toorak—before finishing fifth in the Cox Plate. Back from a three-month layoff, she’s officially aiming for another Cox Plate tilt, with the next major target being the April 16 Group 1 Doncaster Mile. Here’s video of her latest victory, in the February 26 Group 1 Futurity:
With Black Caviar thus far tested only as a sprinter and More Joyous more a miler and hopeful middle-distance runner, it appears unlikely the two will meet—at least this campaign. How long Black Caviar can maintain her unbeaten streak, however, looks to be infinite at this point. World, meet the new undefeated Queen of the Turf:
We’ll keep this section updated with her replays. Enjoy!
March 25, 2011, G1 William Reid at Moonvee Valley, 11-11
April 8, 2011: T.J.Smith Stakes at Randwick, 12-12
May 14, 2011: BTC Cup at Doomben, 13-13
October 7, 2011: Schillaci Stakes, 14-14
October 21, 2011: 2011 Schweppes Stakes, 15-15