Black Caviar: Best In The World
The formidable mare has been dubbed the world's best sprinter and the greatest horse of all time by the International Federation of Horse Authorities (IFHA ) World Thoroughbred Rankings (WTR) system, established in 2002.
Points-based ranking systems, as any fan of any sport well knows, can be misleading. Any football fan whose number one-ranked club was on the short side of a one-nil score to a much lower-ranked opponent knows this fact intimately. Thoroughbreds, in particular, frequently ignore rankings for reasons only they understand. In the final analysis, the final outcome is all that matters, whether it's the result of a single contest or the standings at the conclusion of the season.
So, is Black Caviar deserving?
Let's examine this filly's resume in an attempt to decide.
Black Caviar was foaled at Swettenham Stud in August 2006. She certainly possesses an impressive bloodline, including Desert Sun. More interesting, though, is that she has the most productive sire of the 20th century, Northern Dancer, on both her sire and her dam's side. For any who appreciate a good coincidence, the horse Black Caviar supplanted as highest ranked sprinter of all time, Oasis Dream, also carries Northern Dancer's blood on both sides. Northern Dancer, of course, never ran worse than third, posted 14 wins from 18 starts in two years of racing, and narrowly missed producing the American Triple Crown with his well run third in the 1964 Belmont Stakes.
Next, let's take a look at Black Caviar's racing results.
She is currently undefeated from 12 starts. Next up is the Doomben feature on May 14, where she is a prohibitive favorite at a $1.25, going for 13 in a row. Her connections have her scheduled to complete her autumn campaign at the May 28 Doomben 10000, where it appears that there is little, other than an extra 150 metres, to stand between her and consecutive win number 14.
Her last win in the Group 1 Darley T.J. Smith Stakes added just over $1 million to her tote when she posted a comfortable 2.8 length victory over Hay List, all the more impressive considering she jumped awkwardly, which could have doomed a lesser horse over a short sprint.
Black Caviar's three prior wins were also 1200 metres Group 1 events: the William Reid Open on 25 March, the Newmarket Handicap on 12 March and the Coolmore Lightning Stakes on 19 February. All three of these wins had Luke Nolan taking the ride.
Her first Group 1 win came on 6 November 2010, the 1000 metres Patinick Farm Classic with Ben Melham aboard.
Leading up to the aforementioned Group 1 wins were four Group 2 victories, including a time of 53 flat over 1200 m in the Australian Stakes on 22 January 2010 at Moonee Valley Racecourse.
It all started with a 1000 metre win at the Cromwell Handicap on 18 April 2009, where she bested her nearest competitor, Demerit, by six lengths.
To this point, about the only criticisms that could be leveled on Black Caviar is that she has had occasional difficulties in the barrier and that she attracts short odds.
It will be interesting to see how much longer Black Caviar runs, or if she could possibly be tried at a mile, although common sense indicates that anything beyond that might smack of inflated expectations.
With the jury still out, since she's still running, it's difficult to reach a definitive conclusion regarding Black Caviar's place amongst the all-time great sprinters. If she were to finish unbeaten over one more season, then go on to produce significant progeny, it would be more than reasonable to reach the verdict: Black Caviar, greatest sprinter of all time.