N O R T H A M P T ON, Mass., Sept. 17, 2000 -- Not even starting the race as the betting favorite could get Zippy Chippy his first win in a career of futility.
The 9-year-old gelding finished third Saturday in the eighth race at the Three-County Fair, extending Zippy Chippy’s record as the losingest horse in American thoroughbred history to 88 races.
It wasn’t for a lack of trying. Zippy Chippy, who has a habit of stalling at the start of races, led out of the gate and was neck-and-neck with second-place Miner’s Claim for much of the race.
But the winner, Sadler’s Claim, overtook both horses down the stretch.
That produced groans from the crowd of about 100 people in the rickety wooden grandstand. Zippy Chippy had started the race as a 2-1 betting favorite.
Tired Down the Stretch
“He ran good and he got tired toward the end,” jockey Juan Rohena said of Zippy Chippy. “He was real sharp and he tried real hard.”
Owner and trainer Felix Monserrate, who has remained optimistic despite his horse’s career-long losing streak, said he would bring Zippy Chippy back to the Three-County Fair next year.
The fair, where Zippy Chippy set the record for losingest horse last year, is the only track that hasn’t banned him from racing. Years of losing, bad behavior and his habit of stopping at the starting gate have soured tracks on him.
Before the race, Monserrate was optimistic, despite the fact his horse was starting on the outside—a position he doesn’t like. He said Zippy Chippy was “relaxed and happy.”
‘A Lot of Fun’
“I don’t care if he doesn’t win. It’s just a lot of fun,” Monserrate said of training a horse that has never won. “If you have a bunch of kids and most are successful but one isn’t, you don’t kick him out of the house.”
The race was a “maiden special,” an event for horses who have never won a race.
A week ago, Zippy Chippy, running against a field with a combined record of 0-132, finished second by a neck. It was the best result in the career of a horse which, earlier this summer, lost a 40-yard dash to a minor league outfielder in Rochester, N.Y.
Zippy Chippy was apparently a betting favorite due to his record, not in spite of it. At one point, the odds on him winning were listed as even money.
“He’s never won. He’s got to win sooner or later,” said Paul Lucchesi, 37, of South Hadley.
Added Ed Laplante of Holyoke, “He’s the best horse in this race. He has the most experience.”
Fans and trainers had opposite views, however, of whether Zippy Chippy is good for thoroughbred racing, a sport that has seen a steady decline in interest over the years.
“I think he’s great for the sport,” said Scott Burns of Middletown, Conn. “He’s brought a lot of publicity. I think that it’s great he’s out there. They should give him a chance and let him keep running.”
Trainer Roger Cahoon of West Yarmouth didn’t agree.
“It’s bad press, and if you run 87 races without winning, it’s time to pack it in,” he said.