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Ak-Sar-Ben Media Guide

Bob Dunn/Winner’s Circle Custom Photography

Doctor Who and Explosive Girl faced off in a one-mile and 70-yard match race at Ak-Sar-Ben. “The race, I believe, was dreamed up by the Aks marketing department because both horses had established quite a reputation at Aks,” Kotulak recalled. “Explosive Girl [had] won five straight at Aks the year before at age three, and at age four in 1988 [she] had won three straight at Aks before the match race. Meantime, I think ‘The Doctor’ had won 20 previous Aks races, so it was a nobrainer to have the race.” The match race was billed as a This famous 1975 photo by Bob Dunn shows a tornado approaching Ak-Sar-Ben “Battle of the Sexes” by track man- on a day with nearly 9,000 people in attendance. The twister was reportedly on agement, and as a special promo- course for the track but then veered. Still considered one of the most destructive tion the track gave away T-shirts to tornadoes in U.S. history, it caused more than $1.1 billion in inflation-adjusted people in attendance. damage but remarkably only three deaths. “Fans could choose between a blue and white Explosive Girl T-shirt or a red and white known as a sprinter and would be running a longer disWho Doctor Who T-shirt,” Kotulak explained. “I opted tance than usual. But under a great ride from jockey for a Doctor shirt … I was a Doctor fan all the way, as I’m Tommy Greer, Who Doctor Who took the lead and sure were the majority of fans.” the rail when Explosive Girl reared at the start, then With all this support, Who Doctor Who was sent off eased up slightly to give Explosive Girl a small lead as the favorite at 2-5 despite the fact that he was primarily around the first turn. The filly remained in front down the backstretch and into the final turn, but Who Doctor Who was still running easily and reclaimed the lead when Explosive Girl began to tire. From there, Who Doctor Who pulled away in the homestretch to win by 3 ½ lengths. “When Tommy Greer hustled Who Doctor Who around [Explosive Girl] and to the rail, the race was pretty much over before they reached the first turn,” Kotulak recalled. “She never really threatened in the final quarter.” Another Ak-Sar-Ben veteran was Orphan Kist, a tough-as-nails mare that ran exactly 100 times at tracks across the Midwest from 1986 through 1993. As a sprinter, she knocked heads with Who Doctor Who more than a few times over the years, beating him in the 1989 Speed Handicap and again in the 1991 Nebraskaland Handicap, Explosive Girl, nicknamed “The Queen of Ak-Sar-Ben,” in which she held him off by a desperate head after a long compiled a record of 40-15-10-5 with earnings of $467,592. stretch battle.

AMERICAN RACEHORSE • SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2016 23

American Racehorse - September/October 2016  

This issue of American Racehorse magazine features a long-form article about the magic of Ak-Sar-Ben racetrack in Omaha, Nebraska, plus a lo...