Ten voters couldn't decide between Alysheba and Personal Ensign and split their votes, but for the rest of the electorate, there was no doubt. In results announced Saturday at Santa Anita, Alysheba won the 1988 horse-of-the-year election by a far greater margin than he won most of his races.
Only 1 of Alysheba's 7 victories last year was by more than three-quarters of a length, but in the horse-of-the-year voting, he defeated Personal Ensign, 179-40, with 1 vote going to Risen Star.
To win horse of the year, a horse must get a majority of the votes from at least 2 of the 3 sponsoring groups--turf writers, track racing secretaries and the Daily Racing Form--and Alysheba convincingly carried all 3.
The vote was 87-27 by the turf writers, 25-4 by the racing secretaries and 67-9 by the Racing Form. Eight turf writers and 2 racing secretaries split their votes between Alysheba and Personal Ensign, and the 1 vote for Risen Star came from the Daily Racing Form.
Personal Ensign won all 7 of her races last year, retiring with 13 straight and becoming the first major horse to go undefeated in 80 years.
But it was the 4-year-old filly's misfortune to come along in the same year as Alysheba, who framed his record with wins in the Strub Stakes and the $1-million Santa Anita Handicap early in the year and a victory in the $3-million Breeders' Cup Classic in November.
Trainer Jack Van Berg tried to talk Alysheba's owners--Clarence and Dorothy Scharbauer and their daughter, Pamela-- into running Alysheba this year as a 5-year-old.
"I know Jack was disappointed that we retired the horse," Clarence Scharbauer said Saturday. "But Alysheba was on top of the world, and we figured that we had something to lose and nothing to gain."
Before Alysheba was retired, the Scharbauers nominated him for this year's Santa Anita Handicap.
"If we had decided to run," Scharbauer said, "they probably would have asked the horse to carry 132 pounds, and someone with 110 pounds would have outrun us. Then we would have kicked ourselves all over California."
Alysheba will begin his stud career at Will Farish's Lane's End Farm in Kentucky next month. His stud fee is $75,000, and Scharbauer said that approval has been given for 52 of the 55 mares that he'll be bred to. The Scharbauers own 2 of the mares, and they also will do some foal sharing--taking the offspring of a mare in alternate years--with owners of other mares.
One of the mares to be bred to Alysheba is All Rainbows. When she was mated with the stallion Caro in 1984, the result was Winning Colors, who, like Alysheba, won the Kentucky Derby.