• The week’s significant milestones, facts and figures
19 Golden Sixty
Hong Kong: The exceptional Golden Sixty stands alone as the most prolific winner in Hong Kong’s professional era (since 1971) after another dazzling performance to retain his crown in the Longines Hong Kong Mile at Sha Tin on Sunday [Dec 12].
The six-year-old Golden Sixty had previously held a share of the Hong Kong win record alongside Silent Witness and Beauty Generation before surpassing their mark with another heart-stopping effort under Vincent Ho.
“I feel very happy – he’s my champion,” said trainer Francis Lui after Golden Sixty extended his current winning streak to 16 having gone unbeaten since September 2019.
With a career total of HK$95.5m in prize-money, Golden Sixty is also just HK$10.7m short of Beauty Generation’s all-time record mark of HK$106.2m).
14 Allan Smith
Bahrain: Representing 14-time Bahrain champion trainer Allan Smith, Happy Craf earned a small slice of racing history on Friday [Dec 10] when she became the first horse to win a leg of the ten-race Bahrain Turf Series.
The four-year-old filly was driven through a gap on the rail by Uruguayan jockey Edinson Rodriguez before beating Sonja Henie by a length and three-quarters in the seven-furlong Al Manama Cup, the first of ten £50,000 events in the new Bahrain Turf Series, which runs until February.
“I don’t think we have got to the bottom of her yet,” said her trainer. “I haven’t been able to find anything to work her with. She is pretty good!”
Half an hour later, Mars Landing (Hesham Al Haddad/Neil Callan) got the better of Arqoob to win the Al Muharraq Cup, the second Bahrain Turf Series race on the card at Sakhir.
5,222 Robby Albarado
USA: There was to be no fairytale for Curlin’s jockey Robby Albarado at Turfway Park on Saturday [Dec 11], when he retired from the saddle after finishing eighth of nine on his only mount.
Albarado, 48, had announced his pending retirement earlier in the week in the pages of the Daily Racing Form. He takes off his boots with a total of 5,222 North American winners from 31,444 rides in a career officially dating back to his 1990 debut at Evangeline Downs.
However, Albarado actually started aged 12, riding bush tracks in his native Louisiana at the beginning of a career in which he would become regular rider for two horses of the year in Mineshaft (2003) and Curlin (2007-08), aboard whom he won the Preakness and Breeders Cup Classic in 2007 before a Dubai World Cup success at Nad Al Sheba in 2008. He won the Preakness again on Swiss Skydiver in 2020.
4,000 Gerald Bennett
USA: Veteran trainer Gerald Bennett became only the 14th to saddle 4,000 winners with a double at Tampa Bay Downs on Wednesday [Dec 8].
Bennett, 77, topped and tailed a nine-race card at the Florida venue with Little Miss Sassy and D’craziness, who scored by a half-length under jockey Antonio Gallardo to reach the career milestone.
“When you really stop and think about it for a minute, it’s a big accomplishment,” said Bennett, who is chasing a seventh consecutive training title at Tampa Bay. “It’s something most people haven’t done. It’s just hard work, keep getting up … now, try for 5!” he added.
Bennett is 11th among active US trainers, with Steve Asmussen the all-time leader on 9,570 wins as of Saturday night.
2,500 E.T. Baird
USA: Chicago-based jockey E.T. Baird recorded his 2,500th career victory with a stakes win on Steve Manley-trained Dancin At Midnight in the sixth race, a six-furlong $20,000 claimer, at Hawthorne on Sunday [Dec 12].
Baird, 55, was completing a double on the card at the Chicago venue, having won the previous race for Manley on Rodeo Man for win 2,499.
Baird, who started riding in 1985, enjoyed his biggest success in the $500,000 Illinois Derby in 2008 on Recapturetheglory, aboard whom he subsequently finished fifth behind Big Brown in the Kentucky Derby.
19 Japan (Loves Only You, Glory Vase)
Hong Kong: A double for Japan courtesy of Loves Only You and Glory Vase took the nation’s record at the Hong Kong International Races to 19 victories – more than any other overseas nation ahead of France (14) and Britain (12).
Japan remains the only international nation to have won each of the four Longines-sponsored races at least once. In fact, since Fujiyama Kenzen set the ball rolling in the 1995 HK Cup, they’ve got multiple wins in all of them: Cup (8), Mile (4), Vase (4) and Sprint (3).
Loves Only You (Yoshito Yahagi/Yuga Kawada) goes into retirement after supplementing her historic Breeders’ Cup triumph by short-heading her compatriot Hishi Iguazu in a thrilling renewal of the HK$30m (£2.9m) HK Cup, a race won by Japan in five of the last seven seasons.
A Classic winner at three when she won the Yushun Himba (Oaks), the daughter of Deep Impact also led home a Japanese 1-2-3-4 in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Sha Tin in April.