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There was a fairly famous poll taken by Delaware Park among the members of the American Trainers Association. None of the top 10 were born later than 1945, and only four of the top 10 were born after 1929.

The list, with race records and earnings, is below:

mare                               starts   1st   2nd  3rd    unpl    earnings

1) Gallorette 1942          72     21     20     13     18     $445,535

2) Twilight Tear 1941  24     18       2       2        1          202,165 

3) Regret 1912                 11         9      1       0         1            35,093

4) Top Flight 1929         16       12     0       0        4         275,900

5) Miss Woodford 1880 48    37    7        2         2         118,270

6) Busher 1942                 21      15    3         1         2         334,035

7) Beldame 1901              31      17    6         4         4         102,570

8) Princess Doreen 1921 94  34   15      17       28         174,745

9) Bewitch 1945               55      20   10     11        14        462,605

10) Imp 1894                   171      62   35     29       45           70,119

Despite the fact that three of these mares lie outside the century I was considering in my earlier post, this is a fascinating list.

First of all, the trainers were polled, and the collective memory of trainers like Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons, Ben Jones, Bert Mulholland, and others stretched back a long way. For the most part, it didn’t go back to Imp or Miss Woodford, however. They were responding to the oral tradition of the best mares of the 19th century handed down to them as yardsticks by their mentors.

Second, that Miss Woodford — nearly three-quarters of a century after she was born — was considered fifth-best is staggering. That is serious respect.

Third, in the context of this listing of the best of the best, it is a head-spinner that the trainers were so impressed with Gallorette, who managed to beat some awfully good horses but also managed to lose 51 of her 72 start. The only rationale I can offer is that she was might impressive when she did her best and that she was campaigned quite aggressively.

Even so, I still believe Twilight Tear and Regret were better. Both were so multi-dimensional that they were nearly impossible to defeat.

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