Continue the celebration of Irish horses and horsemen by reliving Ridgewood Pearl’s victory in the 1995 Breeders’ Cup Mile.
Yeah, okay, St. Patrick’s Day was yesterday … but this 1995 triumph of an Irish filly over colts from both Europe and the United States in the Breeders’ Cup Mile is just too good to wait until next year.
Ridgewood Pearl was born in 1992 by Indian Ridge out of Ben’s Pearl, bred by Sean Coughlan and raced by his Coughlan’s wife Anne. She was a big chestnut, long-legged with a ground-covering stride. Lightly raced as a 2-year-old, the filly’s 3-year-old season put her in the history books of Irish racing as she conquered stakes races in Ireland, England and France and gained the reputation of the best filly miler in Europe. She then set her sights on the United States, shipping to Belmont Park for the 1995 Breeders’ Cup.
Originally, the filly wasn’t seen as a major contender — the West Coast colt Fastness was an early favorite, and French sprinter Cherokee Rose was also considered a threat. But by the morning of the Mile, Ridgewood Pearl was the slight favorite and with Irishman Johnny Murtagh in the irons (who we met yesterday), she headed to the gates to do battle with the colts.
(There’s still contention about the race call that labeled Ridgewood Pearl an English-bred filly.)
Her victory over the boys crowned her outstanding career, and Ridgewood Pearl returned to Ireland as a broodmare. Sadly, she died at age 11 after delivering a stillborn foal. She is immortalized in the Group II Ridgewood Pearl Stakes, held at the Curragh Racecourse for mares aged four and over, as well as a statue at the Curragh commemorating her championship career.
Rest in peace, Ridgewood Pearl. Go riding!
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