How Special she was

Outstanding sprinter Special has died this week at Arrowfield Stud at the grand age of thirty.

The daughter of Habituate and Sal II resided for most of the past two decades at Arrowfield, where she delivered the last of her 14 foals, three-time winner Dashing Dunlop (by Not A Single Doubt).

During a stellar racing career for champion trainer Colin Hayes, Special won ten races, including the three Group 1 sprints at Flemington, the Lightning, the Newmarket and the Gadsden, now known as the Sprint Classic.

It was in the 1988 Lightning Stakes, where she defeated outstanding sprinters Snippets and Redelva, that Special set the Flemington course record of 55.50 for 1000 metres. That record stood for a remarkable 25 years, until world champion sprinter Black Caviar won the 2013 Lightning Stakes in a time of 55.42 seconds.

Racing in an era of many superlative performers, Special subsequently ran third in the 1989 MVRC William Reid S. G1 behind Zeditave and Vo Rogue (11 Group 1 wins between them), and split Zeditave and Oakleigh Plate G1 winner Clay Hero in her third Lightning Stakes.

Special’s transition to motherhood was almost seamless. She was in foal during her last two campaigns and delivered a colt by Bluebird in August 1989.

Named Strong, he was the first of Special’s nine winners, which included the stakeswinners Specialize (also by Bluebird) & Stavka (by Xaar), as well as Lady Special (dam of G1 winner Bomber Bill and two other stakeswinners). Another daughter, Special Sal left the G3 winner Demographic.

Arrowfield owns Special’s last daughter Distinctive (by Falbrav) dam of the winner Distinctive Flyer (by Flying Spur). She has a weanling colt by Smart Missile and is again in foal to him.

In 18 years at stud, twelve of them in Arrowfield’s ownership, Special missed only three times, and after her final foaling six seasons ago, she began a third career as a cherished nanny mare for Arrowfield weanlings. 

Special by name, performance and nature, she has been buried in the Arrowfield graveyard.