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Saratoga Tales: A Champion in Fifteen Days

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In immediately’s world of Thoroughbred horse racing, the trail to successful an Eclipse award as champion 2-year-old is comparatively clear. First, you win a maiden race for horses who’ve by no means received a race earlier than. Then, you attempt to win at the least one graded stakes race (ideally a Grade 1) and hopefully extra; lastly, you win both the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile or Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies to turn out to be the clear-cut champion of your division.

With star horses sometimes operating as soon as a month through the peak of the season, a 2-year-old championship may be sewn up in about three or 4 months. However a few years in the past — again earlier than the Breeders’ Cup, and again when horses ran extra often — it was attainable for a proficient horse to attain management of the division in a lot much less time. The truth is, through the summer time of 1914 at Saratoga racetrack, the legendary filly Remorse stamped herself because the champion 2-year-old filly by going from an unraced maiden to a three-time stakes winner in simply 15 days.

Sure — 15 days.

In fact, some issues by no means change. Even in 1914, Saratoga was identified for its top-notch program of races for 2-year-olds, with the key stakes races together with the Saratoga Particular, Sanford Memorial, and Hopeful Stakes, all of which nonetheless exist immediately.

With Saratoga carrying such status, it was solely pure {that a} racing sportsmen like Harry Payne Whitney — proprietor and breeder of Remorse — would wish to goal the meet along with his highest horses, together with Remorse. Initially of the meet, Remorse was an unraced and unproven filly, however one with loads of potential. Her sire was Broomstick, a rising star as a stallion that had been the main sire of 1913, and Remorse’s maternal grandsire was Hamburg, a famend runner within the Nineties that had received 16 of his 21 races, together with the two ¼-mile Brighton Cup by an astonishing 100 lengths.

Proper from the beginning, coach James Rowe Sr. was impressed with Remorse, to the extent that he didn’t even hassle operating her in a maiden race. As a substitute, Remorse’s debut got here within the six-furlong Saratoga Particular on Aug. 8, the place she wouldn’t solely face confirmed and skilled rivals, however colts as properly.

However, Remorse’s repute preceded her and she or he was despatched off as the favourite in opposition to seven opponents. With jockey Joe Notter within the saddle, she burst out of the beginning gate quickest of all and rapidly opened up a three-length lead. After being challenged briefly with two furlongs to go, she cruised house with “velocity in reserve” per the Every day Racing Type to win by a size within the track-record time of 1:11 3/5.

Remorse’s efficiency would have been spectacular even for a veteran racehorse, however coming from a 2-year-old filly making her first begin, it was astonishing. Every week later, she returned within the six-furlong Sanford Memorial — the place she as soon as once more confronted colts — and was much more spectacular. Carrying 127 kilos on a monitor labeled “gradual,” Remorse set the tempo once more earlier than successful simply by 1 ½ lengths whereas “beneath restraint all through,” even though she was carrying 14 kilos greater than the runner-up and 20 kilos greater than the third-place finisher.

Brilliance? Examine. Means to hold excessive weights? Examine. The one main query Remorse nonetheless needed to reply was the query of coronary heart; she may dash her rivals off their toes, however did she have the braveness to beat adversity and prevail beneath less-than-ideal circumstances?

The reply got here on Aug. 22 within the Hopeful Stakes, the fruits of Saratoga’s 2-year-old racing program. Rain left the monitor very heavy and tiring, and Remorse — maybe not caring for the situations — discovered herself off the tempo for the primary time in her profession, racing almost seven lengths off the lead and in sixth place partway by way of the race. However like a champion, she rose to the event, unleashing a robust rally within the homestretch to place herself again in competition. She was nonetheless in third place with a furlong to go, however she had the leaders measured, and dug in to win by a decided half-length whereas conceding 13 kilos to the runner-up.

Thus, within the span of 15 days, Remorse had conquered the perfect 2-year-olds at Saratoga whereas carrying excessive weights and dealing with all kinds of monitor situations. As if to additional exhibit Remorse’s superiority, one of many colts that she beat on two events — Pebbles — would finish the yr with 5 stakes wins, incomes recognition because the champion 2-year-old colt.

However there might be no denying that Remorse was the general champion of the division, regardless that the Hopeful Stakes was her ultimate race of the yr. In 1915, she returned higher than ever to make historical past with a decisive two-length victory over Pebbles within the Kentucky Derby, changing into the primary filly to win the run for the roses.

Greater than a century after her 15-day championship marketing campaign at Saratoga, Remorse stays one among simply 4 horses to have swept the Saratoga Particular, Sanford Memorial, and Hopeful Stakes. Even on the time, Remorse’s accomplishments had been particular; immediately, they’re virtually unimaginable to think about.

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