California Standout Soviet Problem Euthanized

She won 15 of 20 races and nearly upset Cherokee Run in 1994 Breeders' Cup Sprint.

Soviet Problem, 1994 California Horse of the Year and Breeders Cup Sprint (gr. I) runner-up, has been euthanized due to the infirmities of old age at John Harris’ farm near Coalinga, Calif. Foaled in 1990, Soviet Problem was bred, campaigned and owned throughout her lifetime by the partnership of Harris and Donald Valpredo.

The big chestnut daughter of Moscow Ballet--Nopro Blama, by Dimaggio, won 15 of 20 starts including 10 stakes, while earning $905,546. Trained by Greg Gilchrist throughout her career and ridden primarily by Chris McCarron and Russell Baze, she was voted California Champion Three Year Old Female in 1993 and California Champion Sprinter, Champion Older Female, Champion Turf Horse and Horse of the Year in 1994. 

Her defeat by a head to Cherokee Run in the Breeders Cup Sprint that fall at Churchill Downs was a heartbreaking loss to her many fans. She won her final start, the 1995 Valkyr Handicap, carrying 127 pounds in 1:02 2/5 for 5 1/2 furlongs on the Hollywood Park turf course.

”Soviet Problem was a dream mare for Don and I to own," Harris said in a statement. "She gave 100% every race. We will always have fond memories of all the fun times we had with her. She never produced a foal nearly as good as she was although we do feel good about her three-year-old, Good to Be King, by Gulch, who is currently in training. She will live on in pedigrees as the granddam of Unzip Me (11 wins, graded stakes winner of $743,003), who shows her gameness and speed.”

Soviet Problem was buried at her birthplace, Harris Farms, near her sire, Moscow Ballet.