I come today to praise Goldikova, not to bury her. In a magnificent career that has now spanned five seasons, losing a race is nothing new to the great champion. In fact, today was her ninth career loss. To this defeat, and the eight others before it, I say, “so what.”
In three consecutive seasons, Goldikova has come to America as a conquering hero. She simply has proven to be too good for her Breeders’ Cup Mile competition. This is a feat that no other horse in history can match, in any of the Breeders’ Cup events. And each time she traveled to the States, she had been beaten during the season in Europe. That’s what happens when you consistently run against the best completion in the world for the better part of four years. Sometimes you lose, and if you are good enough, sometimes you win.
Goldikova has won plenty. The daughter of Anabaa has been triumphant 17 times, and today’s race actually has me confident that there will be more to come.
The Parisian defeat today came in the Group 1 Prix de la Foret, and against an extremely talented three-year-old colt named Dream Ahead. It briefly looked like she might be home free, as Goldikova surged to the lead early in the Longchamp straight, but she had little time to breathe as the second choice in the race, Dream Ahead, attacked from her outside. As the two stars exploded away from the rest of the field, it was clear that the younger male had a little bit more momentum. Goldikova battled every stride to the wire but could not hold off the rush of Dream Ahead. At the wire, Goldikova was a head behind, and the pair was six lengths clear of the rest.
A multiple group 1 winner, Dream Ahead completed the distance, of just short of seven furlongs, in 1:18.10 over an unusually firm Longchamp turf with William Buick in the irons. Unlike Goldikova, Dream Ahead thrives at shorter distances like the Foret. If the distance had been the same distance of the BC Mile, Goldikova’s favorite distance, who knows if her young rival’s closing kick would have packed the same punch.
After the race, Goldikova’s connections, including trainer Freddy Head, were not surprisingly disappointed, but despite losing for the third time in five times (she has finished second in each loss this year,) she ran an excellent race that should set her up perfectly for another trip to America.
The turn of foot is still there, the class is still there, and that big heart is most assuredly still there. Does she still have what it takes to win an incredible fourth consecutive Breeders’ Cup Mile on an American style racetrack that she loves, and at a distance she prefers? My answer is a resounding and confident, “Yes, she can!”