Three-time Breeders' Cup Mile winner Goldikova dies

Three-time Breeders' Cup Mile winner Goldikova dies
Photo: Reed Palmer Photography

It has been a decade since she did it. Yet the memory of Goldikova winning a still-unmatched third consecutive time in one division of the Breeders’ Cup is seared in the memory of anyone who was there when it happened.

“It’s so difficult to go abroad and win a race like the Breeders’ Cup,” said her trainer, Freddy Head. “To do it three times in a row is something extraordinary.”

He spoke from France only hours after Goldikova died Tuesday at age 16. Although he was not sure of the specifics, Head understood “it was a heart attack or a broken artery.”

Owned and bred by brothers Gérard and Alain Wertheimer of Chanel fame, Goldikova won 14 Group-Grade 1 races, all with jockey Olivier Péslier and mostly in France. But it was when she traveled abroad that she made her grandest impressions, especially in 2010.

After victories the previous two years at Santa Anita, Goldikova completed her Breeders’ Cup Mile three-peat with a 1 3/4-length victory over Gio Ponti at Churchill Downs. It came only two hours before Blame’s sensational upset of Zenyatta on the same card in the Classic.

Goldikova's bid for a fourth straight Mile win came up a length short in 2011 when she finished third to Court Vision in her final race, also in Louisville.

“You can’t underestimate how much pleasure everyone involved got from getting the hat trick in the Breeders’ Cup,” Wertheimer et Frere racing manager Pierre-Yves Bureau told Racing Post.

Goldikova signaled that 2010 would be something special when she won the 2010 Queen Anne Stakes (G1) at Royal Ascot.

“She was able to do everything,” Head told HRN. “She ran in three different countries over any distance, straight or two turns or one turn, up and down (hills) like we have in Europe. That made her very special.”

So special that Goldikova was that rare foreign horse who could race just once a year in America and still win two Eclipse Awards — and get voted in 2017 into the National Racing Museum and Hall of Fame at Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

Foaled in Ireland on March 14, 2005, Goldikova was by the Danzig stallion Anabaa out of Born Gold, a Kentucky mare by the French-bred stallion Blushing Groom.

Goldikova had 17 victories from 27 starts and earned $7,176,551, according to Equibase, but her broodmare career did not match that. She produced seven foals, the most successful being Terrakova, a 7-year-old Galileo broodmare who won a French Group 3 race 3 1/2 years ago for the Wertheimers.

“Fortunately we have her two daughters, including Goldistyle, and the full brother to Terrakova who just turned 2,” Bureau told Racing Post. “It’s a family that remains very active.”

Goldikova was not in foal when she died.

Head recalled Goldikova’s feisty nature, which was clearly an asset on the racetrack. But not necessarily in the barn.

“You couldn’t go in her box (stall),” Head said. “She had a stable lad that she knew very well. He was the one who could go inside the box. If she didn’t know you, she wouldn’t let you in. It was like her home, her kingdom. I wasn’t even able to go inside.”

Coming out of the starting gate, though, Goldikova turned an ornery attitude into a fighting nature that made her a two-time champion in both Europe and America. 

“She was always doing her best,” Head said. “She was very keen. She was very, very strong and tough. In the five years I had her in my yard, she never saw a vet. She was really special. Very special.”

“She gave us so many great memories,” Bureau said. “I hope there’ll be more to come with her offspring.”

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