Freddie Head will remember this past November for myriad reasons.
Not only did the legendary jockey-turned-trainer witness his charge Goldikova win an unprecedented third straight Breeders' Cup Mile at Churchill Downs but, during his time in Kentucky, the affable Frenchman got to visit with one of the great loves of his life.
"I went to Lexington and saw her," Head recalled on Friday. "She was getting old, but still she had a good eye. I'm very, very happy I did it."
The grand dame in question was Head's former mount, the champion race mare Miesque. On Thursday, Head and the rest of the racing world lost one their favorite ladies when Miesque was euthanized at Lane's End Farm because of infirmities of old age.
The bay daughter of Nureyev was 27. She was a pensioned broodmare.
Bred and owned by the Niarchos family, Miesque was a great performer on the track and one of the most important broodmares in recent times.
When she captured her second straight Breeders' Cup Mile by 4 lengths at Churchill Downs in 1988, she became the first horse to win two Breeders' Cup races and capped a career that would eventually earn her a plaque in racing's Hall of Fame.
"Miesque was part of our lives," the Niarchos family said in a statement. "She was unique and gave us immense pleasure."
Trained by Francois Boutin, Miesque dominated her own gender and males, winning 12 of 16 career starts, two Eclipse Awards for champion turf female, and a then-European record 10 Group/Grade I wins.
That record stood until 2010 when champion Goldikova — who is trained by Head, Miesque's regular jockey — broke the mark by earning her 11th and 12th Group/Grade I victories.
"She was such an exceptional mare; she was the best horse I had ridden," Head said. "She was brilliant, just brilliant. And on top of that, she went on to be such a great broodmare."
All of the superlatives Miesque inspired with her explosive running style magnified once she entered the breeding shed.
Her first foal, a bay colt by Mr. Prospector, was Kingmambo — a multiple Group I winner who became one of the leading international sires.
Kingmambo, who stood his entire career at Lane's End beginning in 1994 and commanded a $300,000 fee at one point, was pensioned from stud duty this past September.
"She was one of the greatest race mares and broodmares combined of all time," said Will Farish of Lane's End, where Miesque resided her entire broodmare career. "To be a great race mare and to produce a great horse like that, and other good stakes winners, as well, is very rare. What she did, what she produced and what she was is self-explanatory. It's always sad when one like her leaves us."
Out of the Prove Out mare Pasadoble, Miesque also produced multiple Group I winner and French classic winner East of the Moon, as well as Group III winners Miesque's Son and Mingun. Her last live foal, a colt by A.P. Indy named Judpot, was born in 2005.
About the only known weakness throughout Miesque's life was her love of sugar cubes. At the Oak Tree Division of Lane's End Farm, the staff kept a French-themed tin stockpiled with her beloved treats. They were about the only thing that could break her from her regal disposition.
"She was just one of those special horses that you could tell there was something about her," Farish said. "She had a wonderful look in her eye and just kind of carried herself like she was a champion, even as a broodmare. She was unique in that respect."
Miesque was buried in the Lane's End/Oak Tree Division cemetery.