LOUISVILLE — More than all the superlatives uttered about the champion mare Goldikova, Thierry Blaise's outburst at Churchill Downs last year spoke most passionately about her place in the racing world.
Having spent so many moments glued to her side as her exercise rider, Blaise was again with his favorite girl during her victorious move in the stretch of the 2010 Breeders' Cup Mile — running along the main-track rail and punching the air before hurling his body skyward as she hit the wire, making Blaise a bit of a YouTube star.
Few horses are capable of eliciting the emotion Goldikova still does — even after 26 races and 17 wins over five seasons. On Saturday, the mare whose brilliance spans multiple countries will again try to leave the Thoroughbred community breathless.
Since the Breeders' Cup was designed to produce historic moments, the magnitude of what Goldikova is seeking to accomplish at Churchill Downs this weekend makes her the poster child for the 28th edition of the World Championships.
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The 6-year-old homebred champion of Alan and Gerard Wertheimer will attempt to win the Breeders' Cup Mile for an unprecedented fourth consecutive year, a feat she is deemed the 7-5 morning-line favorite to achieve.
Her total of three Breeders' Cup victories is something not even attained by Zenyatta. And with a win or second-place run Saturday, Goldikova and her current bankroll of $6,978,551 will surpass the 2010 Horse of the Year as the all-time leading North American female money earner.
"Goldikova going for her fourth straight Mile is like Babe Ruth knocking the 714 home runs out of the park," said Craig Fravel, president and CEO of Breeders' Cup Ltd. "She's already made it a remarkable accomplishment with three in a row. If she can do four, it would be that much more."
As the former jockey for two-time Mile winner Miesque, Goldikova's trainer, Freddy Head, knows what it takes to get brilliance out of a horse.
That Goldikova has made her form last through 14 Grade/Group I wins — nine of which have come against males — since her first career start at Chantilly in September 2007, is something even Head doesn't believe he will witness again any time soon.
Even when she is turned out on the farm, the amount of weight she puts on is minimal. Shipping out of her native France barely causes Goldikova to turn a hair as Head claims she adapts to any environment as if it were her home.
"I think I have seen maybe horses as good as her, maybe even better in one race, but one like her? Never," Head said. "The years don't seem to take anything from her. She is like a 3-year-old filly, she's never had a day of problems in all of her life. It is too easy to (train) something that special."
Her résumé prevents anyone from questioning her greatness. Still, there are some who point to Goldikova's 2011 record and wonder if the reigning European Horse of the Year and Eclipse Award champion for turf female isn't finally feeling the effects of a most ambitious career.
Since opening the season with a second straight win in the Group I Prix d'Ispahan on May 22, Goldikova has lost three of her past four starts, including back-to-back runner-up finishes in the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville on Aug. 15 and the Prix de la Foret on Oct. 2.
"She's not winning as far as she was and she's not winning as much as she was," said Richard Hannon Jr., who will saddle fellow Mile contender Strong Suit.
If her turn of foot has slowed at all, though, Head says it's not by much. The list of those who have beaten Goldikova this year, led by Queen Anne Stakes winner Canford Cliffs, all came into their starts with prior Group I triumphs.
"I think she's as well and as good as she was in the previous years," Head said. "She's a year older, a little heavier maybe. She is getting like an old mama now, but she still has the same will. Her action is exactly the same."
Some of the same contenders who faced Goldikova before are game to take another crack at her Saturday. Champion Gio Ponti, second in last year's Mile, is back for another run as is Grade I winner Get Stormy, 2009 Mile runner-up Courageous Cat, and Sidney's Candy.
Victory may not be certain, but one thing Head says is for sure is the Mile will be Goldikova's final career start. Another issue not up for debate is how much the mare will be missed.
"There will be a lot of emotion (Saturday) for everyone and a lot of people will be around her box," Blaise said this week. "She's a queen to us."