06/26/2014 3:18PM

The Mother of all Gooses


The banner on the front pages of Daily Racing Form and The Racing Times of June 9, 1991 were the same: “The Mother of All Gooses.” It was a sly, ripped-from-the-headlines reference to Saddam Hussein’s hollow, defiant cry, “mother of all battles,” from the first Iraq War. This battle, however, proved to be not nearly as one-sided.

Meadow Star and Lite Light were the titans of the 3-year-old filly division. They had taken different paths to the Mother Goose, each rolling over their respective competition. Meadow Star, the previous year’s juvenile filly champ, was undefeated in her own division and was coming off an easy win in the Acorn. Lite Light, who was trounced by Meadow Star in the Breeders’ Cup the previous fall, had hit her stride and was riding a four-race graded win streak, the last of which was a 10-length blowout in the Kentucky Oaks.

Their owners came from, to put it mildly, different worlds. Meadow Star flew the colors of Carl Icahn, at the time one of the world’s richest men and the apotheosis of Wall Street and the pin-striped suit. MC Hammer’s Oaktown Stable owned Lite Light. Hammer was the world’s most ubiquitous rapper and his fashion sense tilted more toward the buttonless leather jacket and balloon pants. On the racetrack, there was little between Meadow Star, wearing classic chestnut, and Lite Light, a flashy bay. The tote board told the story: In a parimutuel rarity, both horses were odds-on.

The speedier Meadow Star, under Jerry Bailey, took the initial round, sprinting to a two-length lead down the backstretch while bouncing along at a glacial pace – 49.48 seconds for the first half-mile. Corey Nakatani, aboard Lite Light, had taken back during the early going but sensing the slow fractions sent his filly to challenge at the half-mile pole.

As the two turned for home, Bailey floated Lite Light six deep into the track but the filly kept coming and inched closer to Meadow Star. The two hit the wire together and no one, including track announcer Tom Durkin, could determine the winner. Nakatani thought he had gotten there; Bailey looked unsure. Six minutes later, the photo-finish camera showed that Meadow Star had held on by the shortest, dirtiest nose.

The race took its toll on both horses, though Lite Light exacted revenge on Meadow Star four weeks later in the Coaching Club American Oaks, defeating her by seven lengths. After the CCA Oaks, neither horse won again.

L. More than 1 year ago
I remember this race billing. I loved Lite Light at the time but it was a great all around race, one of the best for sure!
Rodney More than 1 year ago
totya kokeya More than 1 year ago
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william More than 1 year ago
" In a parimutuel rarity, both horses were odds-on." hardly...in the "match race" at churchill last month, the 2 horses went off at 1/2 and 3/5. Spasibo, Churchill
Jerry Cumberland More than 1 year ago
If that doesn't illustrate the need for lower takeouts...
william More than 1 year ago
we've been at war for 23 years....wow
Leslie Bliman-Kuretzky More than 1 year ago
Meadow Star was a filly that was too legit to quit :) May both Fillies now RIP
Tim Roberts More than 1 year ago
What a great racehorse Untapable is. Always a pleasure and privilege to watch her race.
B More than 1 year ago
I remember this, though I had not thought of it in a long time. As I recall, it was LeRoy Jolley who coined the phrase "The Mother of all Gooses", not the NY Post. It was a great race that lived up to all of its hype. Unfortunately, as the article suggests, with a one race exception, that was all she wrote, which is probably why it has been pretty much forgotten.
Chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
You can still get The Washington Post for $2.50 - a week! Go figger...