By Chris Lomon for WoodbineEntertainment.com
TORONTO, October 12 - She was, in every good way imaginable, an international racing sensation, a massively talented mare that managed to make her mark around the world.
All Along’s status as a globetrotting star came to be in her three-year-old campaign, one year before she would wow the thoroughbred world with four straight top-shelf triumphs, including a scintillating score in a Canadian turf classic.
Bred and campaigned by art dealer Daniel Wildenstein and trained by Patrick Biancone, All Along was a world traveler at three, competing in France, England and Japan, where she finished second in the 1982 Japan Cup.
The daughter of Targowice had already started turning heads with the immense talent she displayed in her sophomore season. She notched four wins, including the Prix Vermeille, along with two seconds, from nine starts.
At four, she was bringing people to their feet.
All Along won four major races in the span of just 41 days in 1983 en route to becoming the first foreign-based horse to be crowned Horse of the Year (she also won Champion Grass Mare honours) in the United States.
She took the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (beating 25 rivals, at odds of 17-1) at Longchamp in France, the Canadian International at Woodbine, the Turf Classic at Aqueduct in New York and the Washington, D.C. International at Laurel Park in Maryland. English jockey Walter Swinburn was aboard for the victories.
Fast forward, momentarily, to the present, and Biancone still speaks glowingly of All Along, his unabashed fondness for the fan favourite champion still evident.
“The main thing for me is that she was a very kind horse, easy to train, just very sweet,” said Biancone, of the granddaughter of famed American sire Bold Ruler, who won her debut in 1981, the lone start of her two-year-old campaign. “She loved to race and she was a beauty in the barn. She never gave us any headaches or any problems. She was the one you loved to have.”
The now 65-year-old conditioner has an endless stream of superlatives, including in his recollections of All Along’s one and only Canadian start, on October 16, 1983.
Sent off as the 9-5 favourite in the $520,350 Canadian International, All Along was tenth of 11 at the quarter-mile call, improving to eighth position after the half, and then sat seventh at the one-mile juncture, steadily advancing with ease under Swinburn.
“She ran a wonderful race in the International,” said Biancone. “She had a great year at three, but she took a very long time to get in form at the age of four. She had just come back into form in September, which was perfect timing for the Arc. After she won the Arc, the next day, she was doing so well. I told Mr. Wildenstein, ‘You know, sir, there is a $1 million bonus out there and I think we should give it a try.’ He was a sportsman and agreed we should give it a try. If we didn’t win in Canada, we could go back home and go on with it. But the mare, she was exceptional that day at Woodbine.”
Next came a trip to New York for the Turf Classic, run two weeks later. She romped to an 8 ¾-length triumph. Thunder Puddles once again settled for second, while millionaire Erins Isle was third. Following the victory, All Along also joined the millionaires club.
On November 12, All Along was at Laurel for the Washington, D.C. International.
And once again, she found herself in the winner’s circle, this time after an impressive 3 ¼-length score.
The victory delivered her connections the $150,000 winner’s share of the purse – but there was a much bigger prize attached.
All Along became the first horse to claim a $1 million bonus that was offered if a horse could sweep the Canadian International, the Turf Classic, and the Washington, D.C. International.
“It was wonderful, just unbelievable” said Biancone. “I’ve trained some good horses, but this one was very special.
At age five in 1984, All Along finished third in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and was runner-up in the inaugural Breeders’ Cup Turf. At the time of her retirement following her 1984 campaign, All Along was the all-time leading distaffer in lifetime purse earnings with $3,015,764.
Her next journey was to Three Chimneys Farm in Midway, Kentucky. From 13 foals, All Along produced 11 starters and four winners. Her lone stakes winner was Group 2 winner Along All, by Mill Reef.
She won nine of 21 starts, accompanied by four seconds and a pair of thirds. In 1990, she was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.
All Along died at Three Chimneys at the age of 26 in 2005.
“She was a wonderful horse in every way,” praised Biancone. “She was always up for the challenge.”
Something those who packed the Woodbine grandstand were witness to almost 34 years ago to the day.
“There are many wonderful things I could say about her,” offered Biancone. “She was wonderful on the racetrack and a joy to be around in the barn. And she was certainly a great champion.”
Steeped in tradition, Woodbine’s world-famous turf races have been captured by some of the greats of the sport including recent Woodbine Mile champs Tepin and Wise Dan; the Hall of Fame mare All Along who captured the International in a standout campaign; and the incomparable Secretariat, who concluded his historic career with a runaway score in the 1973 edition of the International. Join us as we profile Titans of the Turf, highlighting those who have triumphed on the Woodbine green.