She’s named for her dam, Society Selection, and her sire is Giant’s Causeway. She gets her coloring from her father, and, it’s suspected, her temperament. She’s owned by M And I Cowan Stables; that’s Marjorie and Irving, the same people who owned her mother. Marjorie died earlier this year.
Her trainer is Allen Jerkens, the same man who trained her mother. The summer of 2004, when my re-immersion in Thoroughbred racing began in earnest, was the summer of Society Selection at Saratoga. I loved her in the Alabama—I don’t remember why. But she became one of “my” horses.
She won the Alabama and the Test; downstate, she was second in the Acorn and the Beldame. At two, she’d won the Frizette; at four, she added the Shuvee to her resume, with seconds in the Distaff, the Phipps, and the Ruffian. She earned $1,984,200.
On the first day that I met the Chief, I stood, tongue-tied, shy, wondering what to say to this man who, it seemed, merely tolerated my presence out of politeness. I agonized. What could I say? It would be trite, I thought, but I had nothing else.
“I loved Society Selection,” I said.
I was rewarded with that grin. “Wasn’t her Alabama the greatest?” he said.
She beat Ashado that day, in a race in which the Chief didn’t want her to run, according to the New York Times.
Jerkens said he did not want to run Society Selection in the Alabama, which is raced at a mile and a quarter. Instead, he said he would have preferred to run her in the Ballerina Handicap at seven-eighths of a mile next Sunday.
He was overruled by Marjorie Cowan, who, with her husband, Irving, owns Society Selection. ”I thought she was better sprinting,” Jerkens said. ”But listen, most of the things you do in this game, they turn out by accident anyway.” (Diamos)
And now he’s got her first foal, a filly. She’s a handful; on the backstretch at Saratoga, both Jerkens and his exercise rider, Kevin Cremins, would shake their heads over her. In the stall, she was sweet as could be; late in the summer, she was still figuring out what to do with peppermints, and I practically had my fingers in her mouth, trying to teach her what to do. She nuzzles; she likes to be stroked.
But put the saddle on, and off she goes. The morning after the peppermint lesson, standing near the backstretch coffee stand, I heard a clattering, and there was Cremins aboard a chestnut, wrestling her down the road to the gap. After the workout, coming off the track, Cremins caught my eye. “Yep, it’s her,” he said ruefully.
“He’s the only one who can handle her,” the Chief said. Lucky Kevin.
Back at Belmont, she’s getting better, I’m told. She’s figuring out her job, she’s becoming more tractable, less headstrong. She’s still not sure what to do with a peppermint, but she accepts carrots with alacrity.
She’s a two year old chestnut, and her mother was Society Selection. Today at Belmont, she makes her first start.
6 thoughts on “Superior Selection”
Aw, I remember your "I loved Society Selection" intro with the Chief. Personally, I was thrilled to have the focus off me and Red and onto historical references and personal stories. Your chit chats turned into a friendship and that really took the pressure off my relationship with the big man. You were a buffering sinew, easing tensions and strengthening connections and I really appreciate that! PS: Red's been home a year today!
And I was thrilled that you all wanted to see the horse so that I could talk to the Chief!Happy anniversary to the big guy…
stumbled onto your blog, had never heard of Society Selection, looked for her races after reading your story. Couldn’t find any but did find her Keeneland sale, they do show her Alabama stretch run if anyone wants to see it.
Thank you very much – she was one of my favorites.
Just read your story on the chief again and couldn’t keep the tears from my eyes. We will miss him.
We sure will, Kevin. The racetrack won’t be the same without him.