JC / Railbird


Dreamy Trêve

Trainer Criquette Head-Maarek blows a kiss after Treve wins the 2015 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud

Trêve is traveling well towards a third Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, winning the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud on Sunday by 1 1/4 lengths over classy Flintshire. Trainer Criquette Head-Maarek (above) said after that she was quite confident:

“I was never worried. She was a little on her toes before the race but Thierry rode her beautifully. I’m delighted as Flintshire is a very good horse. It’s just a dream.”

The Saint-Cloud was the 5-year-old mare’s second win in as many starts this year, a much more promising record than her early 2014 campaign — she was 0-for-2 at this time last year en route to her second Arc victory.

On avait le terrain un peu trop ferme pour elle mais on dit que les bons chevaux vont dans tous les terrains,” said jockey Thierry Jarnet of Trêve’s effort. Google Translate comes to the aid of my high school French to reveal that he was saying something along the lines of, “The ground was a little too firm for her, but they say good horses go in any condition.” Watch the replay:

More on the Saint-Cloud: “Flintshire famously loves a fast surface and he will surely never have a better chance of turning over Treve.”

Dans La Famille

Ryan Goldberg profiles the remarkable Criquette Head-Maarek:

… as far back as the age of 5, Head-Maarek said, she told her father she wanted to be a trainer. “One day he said to me, ‘You marry a trainer, but you won’t be a trainer because there are no women trainers,”’ she recalled.

But in 1978, after four years as her father’s assistant, Head-Maarek was granted a training license by the French racing authorities, the first for a woman. Her father gave her 35 of his own horses, and success quickly followed. Owners such as Prince Khalid bin Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the late emir of Dubai, sent her horses. She remains the only woman to train an Arc winner.

This part of her story reminds me a bit of trainer Linda Rice:

A proud “my father’s daughter,” she’s the youngest of trainer Clyde Rice’s four children and the only girl. She began helping at her dad’s stable in grammar school. She walked horses, then exercised them. At 17, as they drove back from a Keeneland horse sale, a major accident blocked their route for hours.

That’s when Rice revealed her career path. She turned to her dad and confessed, “I want to be a trainer, just like you.”

Clyde Rice measured his response before speaking it. He told her, “That career would be a lot easier if you were one of my sons.”

Rice won the Easy Goer Stakes with Kid Cruz, eighth in the Preakness Stakes and a former $50K claimer, on Belmont Stakes day.

More Head-Maarek in the Guardian: “We’ll take my Rolls-Royce …

6/10/15 Addendum: Gai Waterhouse, daughter of Australian trainer T.J. Smith, shares a similar story as Head-Maarek and Rice about going out on her own:

Over the next 10 years I saw the likes of Kingston Town and Red Anchor come and go from my father’s stable, Tulloch Lodge, and eventually I decided I could take the next step and become a horse trainer in my own right. TJ was very reserved about me becoming a trainer; he felt it would be too hard for me to obtain owners, purchase yearlings and make my mark. My father thought I would be much better off working under him for the time being as his PR girl and trackwork supervisor. But like most young people, I could not be swayed. I had an idea in my head and I could not be stopped. TJ was telling the truth, and he knew it would be an uphill battle for me to forge a career on my own.

She has succeeded.

Related: Miss Mary, Licensed Trainer (7/8/10).


Rachel Alexandra winning the Haskell
Rachel Alexandra and Calvin Borel win the Haskell. (Uploaded by Rock and Racehorses to Flickr.)

She’s beaten the winners of the Illinois Derby, Arkansas Derby, Santa Anita Derby, Kentucky Derby, Belmont Stakes, and Tom Fool Handicap. She’s won eight consecutive races, four of those Grade 1s, one a Classic, at six different tracks, and she’s done so by a combined 69 3/4 lengths. Her winning time of 1:47.21 for nine furlongs in the Haskell Invitational came within one-fifth of a second of the Monmouth stakes record; her preliminary Beyer speed figure for the race is 116, which is the highest yet given this year to any horse of any age at any distance over any surface in North America. The leading contender for Horse of the Year, she’s the best of her generation, male or female, and quite possibly, the best American thoroughbred in training.

She’s Rachel Alexandra, and she’s great.

Superlatively speaking: Her Haskell win was preternaturalawesomesurrealeasily the most scintillating seen this yearspine-tingling. (For more, including photos and the race replay, visit R360.)

Meanwhile: Earlier in the day and across the ocean, Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Goldikova turned in a flawless front-running performance to win the Fr-1 Prix de Rothschild. Writes Sue Montgomery in the Independent,

Unlike those commercially driven, demeaning occasions now prevalent at feature race meetings, yesterday was a ladies’ day with a degree of dignity attached. At Deauville, the four-year-old filly Goldikova won the European weekend’s most valuable prize because of her deeds, not her looks. Her class as an athlete was being judged, not the style of her plaits or the colour of her saddlecloth.

Sing it, sister.

The brilliant Goldikova is expected to return to Santa Anita this fall to defend her title. “We’ll follow the same plan as last year,” said trainer Freddie Head.

And at Del Mar: Perfect Zenyatta breezed five furlongs in 1:00 in prep for the Clement Hirsch (video). Could the champion beat Rachel Alexandra, if the two meet? That’ll be the question for the rest of the racing year.