The Measure of a Horse

MARK DADSWELL/GETTY IMAGES

Hong Kong's Silent Witness, once the world1s fastest sprinter, retired after his Feb. 4 race

The conventional way to take the measure of an athlete is to concentrate on the numbers: Grand Slam or PGA titles, touchdown passes, new records. By that yardstick alone, a racehorse called Silent Witness was a winner many times over. Just retired, Silent Witness was unbeaten at his first 17 starts, eclipsing the 16-win streaks of past greats Ribot, Citation and Cigar. For three years running (2003 to 2005), the Paris-based International Federation of Horseracing Authorities ranked him the world's fastest sprinter. And over five seasons of racing, he amassed $8 million in prize money. Yet those numbers, impressive as they...

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