Who’s Your Favorite Horse? Hannah Mathiesen & Tom Thornbury

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American Pharoah | Sarah Andrew

HANNAH MATHIESEN, OAKMONT HORSE CLUB

Favorite: My favorite racehorse of all time is definitely American Pharoah (Pioneerof the Nile). He was running when I was first getting involved in racing, and I followed him closely since he ran early in his career at my home track, Del Mar. One day, a family friend who writes for the local newspaper said she was going to interview Bob Baffert, and asked if I wanted to come along to be her photographer. Having only been to the backside a handful of times and having never met Bob, I was beyond excited to go.
The next morning we went to the barn and Bob chatted with us for a couple hours. Halfway through, he asked if we wanted to see the big horse up close, and he brought Pharoah out of his stall for us. We spent the next half an hour petting him and feeding him carrots while Bob finished up the interview. I fell in love with Pharoah’s sweet demeanor and that was the day I decided I wanted a career in racing.
He has been my favorite horse ever since and I’ve loved getting to see his progeny on the track now.

Best: I’d say the best horse of all time is Zenyatta (Street Cry {Ire}). She was ultra-consistent and ran her race literally every time she stepped on the track. To win 19 races in a row, with 17 of them being stakes races, is an incredible feat. She beat the boys in the Breeders’ Cup Classic in 2009 after winning the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic the previous year. As an added bonus, she was a great advocate for the sport and brought a lot of new fans into racing.

TOM THORNBURY

Favorite & Best: With hair as white as mine, I have had the privilege of watching some of the really great ones, like Secretariat, Alydar, Affirmed, Seattle Slew, American Pharoah, Justify, Frankel (GB), Ruffian, Winning Colors, Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, Black Caviar (Aus), and Winx (Aus), to name a few.
However, the greatest racehorse in my recollection would have to be Forego (Forli {Arg}). He was named Horse of the Year three times, won eight Eclipse Awards (one of which was as champion sprinter, when he was best at long routes). And, at a time when races were truly weighted, he carried more weight than any horse at that time and certainly since.

I still get chilly-bumps thinking of his Marlboro win over Honest Pleasure. He carried 137 pounds that day. Honest Pleasure made an easy lead and carried it until they turned for home. Big, old, valiant Forego went wide and slowly reeled Honest Pleasure in, and put a head in front, right at the wire!
For me, there was never one like him–before or since.

Email Gary King ([email protected]) to have your say.

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