Spur of the moments: Stories from Breeders' Cup racing history [Breeders' Cup]

A Rough Trip

It was a typically wild finish in the 1989 Breeders’ Cup Mile at Gulfstream Park. Steinlen, a gray horse bred in England and raced in Europe until shipped to California in 1987, got up to win it.

Coming to the wire, Steinlen was trapped along the rail behind front-runners who were stopping, and pinned in by closers moving up. The D. Wayne Lukas-trained colt already had experienced traffic trouble. The Daily Racing Form chart-caller noted that Steinlen had “a very rough trip, but was handled well” by jockey Jose Santos.

The chart read, “STEINLEN ... and HIGHLAND SPRINGS (leaned) on each other in the run to the first turn and then again along the backstretch. (STEINLEN) lost position on the second turn, was between rivals in the early stretch, moved to the inside in front of QUICK CALL in mid-stretch, causing that one to check, took over from SIMPLY MAJESTIC inside the final sixteenth and proved best.”

A rugged trip, indeed — but what the chart doesn’t mention is how little room there was along the inside fence (actually a hedge) for Steinlen to squeeze through.

When the dashing gray galloped back to the winner’s circle and turned for the picture, you could see how he’d done it. A bunch of vines were sticking out of his saddlecloth and girth, and the jock’s pants leg was green-stained. Steinlen didn’t just skim the hedge; he’d run through it!

Photo: Goldikova, courtesy Wikimedia