Breeders' Cup Mile - A Look Back at Miesque

October 24, 2016 07:29am
Miesque 615 X 400
Photo: Breeders' Cup

In her attempt to win the upcoming Breeders’ Cup Mile, Tepin will try and achieve what only four other horses have done in history, win back to back runnings. The members of this club all have one thing in common, they were turf legends and racing household names. Miesque, Lure, Goldikova, and Wise Dan. Each of these names is sure to conjure up past memories from anyone who watched them race. Each of these horses can lay claim to being among the best grass horses at the mile distance of all-time.

Miesque was the first, and arguably the best of the quartet to pull this off. Bred and raced by the Niarchos family's Flaxman Holdings and trained by Francois Boutin, big things were expected from the daughter of Nureyev from the start. In just her second start at age two, Miesque won the Group 1 Prix de la Salamandre in France. She wrapped up her two-year-old season with another Group 1 score in the Prix Marcel Boussac at Longchamp.

After a listed stakes win in her first start at age three, Miesque won the Group 1 English 1,000 Guineas and Group 1 French 1,000 Guineas in consecutive starts. In her next start, her connections decided to try and stretch her out in the Group 1 French Oaks. Run at a distance of 1 5/16, Miesque ran well in finishing second to multiple Group I winner Indian Skimmer. The next two starts saw Miesque defeat both genders and older horses in Group 1 wins. In her final start before the Breeders’ Cup, she was upset by a filly named Milligram. Miesque would only taste defeat only two more times in her career.

Hollywood Park was the scene of the 1987 Breeders’ Cup, and the Mile was the fourth of seven Breeders’ Cup races on that November 21st day. Many may not remember that it was that English three-year-old filly, Milligram, who was picked by many to win. Also in the field was Sonic Lady, the beaten favorite from the 1986 Mile. All told there were six Gr1 winners in the field – it was no contest. Freddie Head, the jockey of Miesque and also the future trainer of Goldikova, orchestrated one of the most memorable rides in Breeders’ Cup history. Race caller Tom Durkin famously described it as the leader from the start, Show Dancer, bore out just bit turning for home, “The rail opens up for Miesque, and Freddie Head sends Miesque right on through,” Durkin said. Miesque won by a widening 3 ½ lengths over a game Show Dancer, Sonic Lady was third. It was a course record time for Miesque, and the win was enough evidence to sway the voters in this country as she was awarded the Turf Female Eclipse award that season.

Back to race as a four-year-old in 1988, Miesque only started three times before the Breeders’ Cup. She won two Group 1 events, but for the second straight year, Miesque was upset in her final start before the Breeders’ Cup. This time she was beaten a head by Soviet Star, a multiple Group 1 winner she had defeated in her previous start.

Breeders’ Cup day in 1988 was cold and rainy at Churchill Downs. The turf course was rated “good” and the field was one of the strongest Mile fields before or since. Included in the field were champions Warning (Eng), Steinlen, Blushing John, and Ravinella. Classic winner Bet Twice was in the field, and one of the more popular and hard trying horses from that time, Simply Majestic, was also present. Again, it was no contest as Miesque, racing much farther off the pace than usual, came from ten lengths back to win by four over Steinlen. Simply Majestic was third. Miesque again won the Turf Female Eclipse award that season.

Miesque was one of those rare horses that was electrifying when she ran. She is at the top of the list when ranking all-time great grass milers, male or female. The 1988 Breeders’ Cup Mile was the final start of a career that saw her win 12 of her 16 career starts, including 10 group/grade 1 stakes. Miesque won nine championships in three countries during her career.

Miesque wasn’t done making history though, because as good as she was on the track, Miesque was equally successful as a broodmare. Among her offspring was Group 1 winner Kingmambo, who went on to be an internationally influential sire who stood at Lane’s End Farm until he was pensioned in 2010.  She also produced French champion East of the Moon and Group 3 winners Mingun and Miesque's Son (who sired Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Miesque's Approval).

Miesque was inducted into the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame in 1999. In January of 2011, Miesque was euthanized due to the infirmities of age. She was 27.  No one who saw Miesque run will ever forget her, she was that special. She will always be the first horse who ever won back to back Breeders’ Cup races, and will always be the standard by which future Breeders’ Cup Mile winners are measured.


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Meet Chip Gehrke

Chip Gehrke has been with Horse Racing Nation since 2015 and currently serves as a Featured Writer. Based outside of Chicago, Chip can be found in the press box many weekends during the Arlington Park meet. The On The Air With Dr. Derby name originates from his local sports radio show appearances as an on-air racing expert. Now also a weekly contributor on FOX Sports radio's "The Fast Track," Chip can be heard giving his thoughts on the racing world every weekend.

In 2017, Chip was chosen to be a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association. As a part of the NTWAB, Chip became a voter for the year-end Eclipse Awards, something he takes very seriously. Some of Chip's favorite writings from the last couple of years is the best way to get to know him, along with following him on Twitter at @doctorderby.

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