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2 Who Doctor Who

1985 6 4(3) $ 84,602
1986 10 6(4) $146,581
1987 13 8(7) $154,035
1988 9 5(4) $185,025
1989 6 4(4) $ 95,320
1990 8 4(3) $ 92,768
1991 8 2(1) $ 46,865
1992 4 0 $ 8,675
TOTALS 64 33(26) $813,871

Who Doctor Who captured the hearts of race fans probably more than any other Nebraska-bred Thoroughbred in history. The fantastic equine athlete competed for eight years. In 64 career starts, He won 33 races, placed second 16 times and ran third on 5 occasions "hitting the board" 54 times. He earned $813,871 as the 2nd leading Nebraska-bred money in history behind Dazzling Falls.

Who Doctor Who

July 23rd,1988
Posted: 6/18/2005 ET

Who Doctor Who remains one of Nebraska's all-time fan favorites

At age 22, Riecken's gelding enjoying life of luxury

Envious is how Herb Riecken feels about Who Doctor Who.

At age 22, Who Doctor Who already has enjoyed more retirement time than Riecken, who trained the gelding and raced him with wife Nancy, knows he ever will. Who Doctor Who's life of leisure started 13 years ago, when the Grade 3 winner and one of Nebraska's all-time fan favorites wrapped up a racing career highlighted by $813,870 in earnings, 22 stakes victories, and a win in a memorable match race.

"He was about as popular a horse as there ever was in Nebraska. And he was a winner," said Terry Wallace, the announcer at the now-defunct Ak-Sar-Ben in Omaha, Nebraska. "It's the normal regional thing, and he had a catchy name. There was just a whole series of things about him that people liked."

Success is one of the reasons fans still stop by Riecken's farm in Fremont, Nebraska, to have their pictures taken with a gelding affectionately known as "The Doctor." Eighteen of Who Doctor Who's 22 stakes wins were earned at Ak-Sar-Ben, and the gelding ranks second on the list of Nebraska-breds by earnings. Dazzling Falls, a son of Taylors Falls, tops the list with a bankroll of $904,621.

Every time Who Doctor Who ran, Riecken would hear fans shouting "Who, Who" as the gelding warmed up in the post parade. Jubilant fans wearing Who Doctor Who hats would celebrate as their favorite runner earned another win and added to his growing fan base.

"Don't you think it was the way he ran?" Riecken asked. "He ran with them until the head of the lane. Then it was just like, 'Well boys, I've had enough of this. Let's go.' "

Who Doctor Who earned one of his most memorable wins by outrunning the filly Explosive Girl by 31/2 lengths in a match race on July 23, 1988, at Ak-Sar-Ben. The $50,000 match race at one mile and 70 yards stands out in Riecken's memory because of the pressure the trainer felt before it was run.

"Who Doctor Who was probably as fast a six-furlong horse in his prime as there was in the United States," Riecken said. "But when you go to a mile and seventy, that wasn't quite his game. He could do it, but it wasn't his best shot."

Explosive Girl and jockey Don Pettinger opened a 11/2-length lead over Who Doctor Who midway through the race. Just when Explosive Girl appeared that she would pull off a memorable upset for trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel, Who Doctor Who and jockey Tom Greer surged to the front and widened their advantage in the stretch.

The match race was run on the same card as the $200,000 Cornhusker Handicap (G2), a race that jockey Julie Krone and trainer Bill Mott teamed up to win with Palace March (Ire). Wallace remembers seeing fans leave the track after the match race--before the richest race of the day was run.

"Billy Mott came in and won the race. Julie Krone was riding," Wallace said. "Here you had all these [future Racing] Hall of Famers, and they were secondary on the card."

Bad ankles forced Who Doctor Who into retirement as a nine-year-old, and they have prevented the aging warrior who sports gray hairs around his eyes from being ridden. Today, the son of Doctor Stat out of the Barnstorming mare The Girl Who shares pasture space with yearlings and broodmares.

"Wherever I put that horse, he gets along with everybody like they respect him," Riecken said. "He walks up to the feeder. They get over and let him walk in. I've never seen him lay his ears back and charge another horse. It's just like he's the king of something. It's been that way all his life."
-Jeff Apel {}

3 The Great Match Race

July 23, 1988

History was made at Ak-sar-ben on Saturday July 23, 1988, as Who Doctor Who and Explosive Girl squared off in the first major match race in America since 1975. It was the first match race in Ak-sar-ben history....and a moment to remember.

Match races were very popular in the early 19th century. The very first match race occured on November 20, 1822, in Washington, D. C., with American Eclipse winnning over Sir Charles.

Perhaps the most famous match race of all was that between the great filly Ruffian and Kentucky Derby winner Foolish Pleasure. It occured on July 6, 1975, at Belmont Park. It also is the most tragic match race in Thoroughbred history as Ruffian broke down. She later had to be destroyed, despite tremendous efforts to save her.

Who Doctor Who-Explosive Girl match race purse of $50,000 was the richest offered in a match race since Ruffian- Foolish Pleasure purse of $225,000. The richest match race of all time was between Chris Evert and Miss Musket at Hollywood Park on July 20, 1974. Chris Evert humiliated her rival by 50 lenghts and earned $350,000!

The Who Doctor Who-Explosive Girl match race received the most national attention for a match race since the Ruffian-Foolish Pleasure match race. However, there had been one other North American match race since 1975. That occured at Centennial Race Track in Denver, Colorado on June 7, 1981 and was between Keen Traveler and Graphic Miss. The purse was only $6,000.