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Horses Americans Should Know I: Makybe Diva | Superfectablog v3.0

Racehorses in History

June: Fairy Chant
b. 1937
Why: A champion at 3 and 4, Fairy Chant won the Beldame twice. She was in the money for 26 of her 42 races.

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Horses Americans Should Know I: Makybe Diva

We are taking a slight break from the Triple Crown trail today (although I’ll be talking about Saturday’s Peter Pan and its Belmont implications tomorrow) to deliver the first installment in what will be an occasional series – Funny Foreign Horses Americans Should Know More About. First up: Makybe Diva.

Although bred in the UK and legendary in Australia, Makybe Diva has plenty of North American blood in her as well; her dam, Tugela, is Kentucky-bred and there is Northern Dancer all over her pedigree. Her sire, Desert King, currently stands in Ireland for €5800.

As a foal, Makybe Diva failed to meet her reserve at auction and was shipped by her flamboyant owner, Tony Santic, to Australia with her dam. She was famously named after five women in Santic’s office (Maureen, Kylie, Belinda, Dianne and Vanessa). She did not mark herself out as a future star in her first (and only) start for that year, finishing fourth in a maiden race at age 3. As a 4-year-old, though, she started to hit her stride – going from breaking her maiden to Group 2 winner in a few starts.

As a 5-year-old, Makybe Diva raced in a number of Group 2 and 3 races before making her name with her first Melbourne Cup victory. Later that year she also won the Sydney Cup, becoming the first mare to achieve a Melbourne Cup/Sydney Cup double in the same season (and the fourth overall).

At age 6, she transferred to trainer Lee Freedman, whose goal was to get her to a second Melbourne Cup victory; The Diva managed that one in a rainstorm and that, among other wins that year, landed her Horse of the Year, Champion Stayer and Champion Filly and Mare in Australia for 2004/2005.

Back again at 7, Makybe Diva won the Turnbull Stakes (two weeks after a losing by a nose in the Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes), the Cox Plate and made history with her third consecutive Melbourne Cup victory. (She also took time out that week to go to the beach). She carried by far the highest winning weight (58 kg, or about 128 lbs, for those fans of imperial weights and measures out there) since 1975. After her victory, Makybe Diva was immediately retired and inducted into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame. It was also announced that a statue would be dedicated to her at Flemington Racecourse, site of her historic victories (and home to a statue of Phar Lap).

Amidst these honors, Makybe Diva was moving into her new career as a broodmare; she delivered her first foal, a colt by Galileo at Coolmore Stud in August of 2007. The equine influenza outbreak meant that plans for her second breeding were scrambled at the last minute; rather than Encosta De Lago, she had to make do with Fusaichi Pegasus — here’s hoping that foal takes after its mother.

A versatile runner, Makybe Diva won over distances from 1400 (about 7 furlongs) to 3200 meters (approximately 2 miles) with an overall record of 15 wins from 36 starts, with another 7 finishes in the money.

Her family looks set to continue its winning ways; her yearling 3/4 sister recently sold for AUS$1.8 million and her 3/4 brother, Musket, has three wins in a row (and he’s just getting properly going at 5, although he won his first start at 2). It would seem that American racing could take a few pages out of Australia‘s book, where the sport is beloved and thriving. I’d be happy to go on a fact-finding mission if required…

2 comments to Horses Americans Should Know I: Makybe Diva

  • Ernie Munick

    Wow. Excellent.

    You and Brooklyn and JC and GBG—hardfreakincore. All the work you girls put in, the love contribution—enormous.

    You girls just kick butt. Should have YOUR OWN blogger’s group, your own Distaff Squadron.

    Meanwhile, I just learned that Seabiscuit raced his entire career with a sore threat. Yes, it’s true, I kid you not, he was a little horse.

  • Fran Jurga

    Great post, Lisa. You are so right. She was dominant. So dominant I even learned to spell her name. But I never knew its origin!

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