World's "Losingest" Horse

The following is reprinted from Bathroom Readers' Institute's 17th edition Uncle John's Slightly Irregular Bathroom Reader book. Haru Urara (Image: Educainc)

Here’s the story of a pokey little horse who has won the hearts of Japanese racing fans … by losing every race she enters.

STEED WITHOUT SPEED

In the summer of 2003, the owners of a struggling track in Kochi, Japan, were looking for a way to keep from going under. Someone noticed that one of the horses competing in an upcoming race, an eight-year-old named Haru-urara (“Glorious spring”), was just a few races away from losing her 100th race in a row - why not try to get some publicity out of it? They got a local newspaper to do a story on Haru-urara, and the national press picked it up.

Until then she’d been just another unknown loser, but Haru-urara turned out to be just the right horse at just the right time: Japan had been on a losing streak of its own - the economy had been in bad shape for more than a decade and unemployment was high - and the losing horse that kept on trying was an inspiration to Japanese workers worried about their own economic futures. Attendance at the race track soared from an average of 1,600 fans per day to 5,000 on Haru-urara’s 100th race (she lost.) Thirteen thousand showed up on her 106th. Japan’s top jockey rod her … and she lost again.

NEVER GIVE UP

Haru-urara has become the most famous horse in Japan. Fans expect her to lose but bet on her anyway, just to get a ticket with her name on it - it’s considered good luck. So many people place bets on her, in fact, that she’s usually favored to win, even though everyone knows she will lose. Like a pro athlete, she endorses products (she races with a pink Hello Kitty riding mask), appears in beer commercials, has her own line of merchandise, and has been the subject of both a pop song and a major motion picture.

Best of all, she has been saved from the fate of many losing horses - the slaughterhouse. Her trainer, Dai Muneishi, has arranged for her to retire to a farm on the northern island of Hokkaido. “I don’t really know why she’s so popular,” Muneishi says, “but I guess the biggest reason is that the sight of her running with all her heart gives comfort to people’s hearts.”

The article above is reprinted with permission from Uncle John's Slightly Irregular Bathroom Reader, a fantastic book by the Bathroom Readers' Institute. The 17th book in this the Bathroom Reader series is filled to the brim with facts, fun, and fascination, including articles about the Origin of Kung Fu, How to Kill a Zombie, Women in Space and more! Since 1988, the Bathroom Reader Institute had published a series of popular books containing irresistible bits of trivia and obscure yet fascinating facts. If you like Neatorama, you'll love the Bathroom Reader Institute's books - go ahead and check 'em out!

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Kudos to Bob for mentioning Zippy Chippy. He's a bit of a local hero in Western NY!

As for the Japanese and how they treat most old racehorses, we should remember what happened to 1986 Kenticky Derby Champion "Ferdinand" who was sold to Japan for stud in 1994.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferdinand_%28horse%29
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I have been a long time fan of Zippy Chippy, but he decided to retire at the top of his game after losing a straight 100 races and being banned from several tracks (one of them due to refusing to leave the starting gate).
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