For most of the Colgate Optic White Stakes (G1) Sept. 16, Winx looked as though her shot at a 20th consecutive victory was going to end the same way as it went for a fellow daughter of Street Cry, Zenyatta, when that one attempted to secure her 20th straight triumph during the 2010 Breeders' Cup Classic (G1).
Where Zenyatta fell short in her particular quest, Winx's latest outing went down as just the latest example of her superiority.
After a few anxious moments where jockey Hugh Bowman was uncharacteristically getting to work on Australia's superstar mare, Winx responded with her usual brilliant kick to score a 1 1/4-length victory over Happy Clapper in the 1,600-meter test at Randwick and extend her extraordinary win streak.
As the field moved past the 1,000-meter mark in the race, Bowman urged Winx on while she raced near the tail of the field. By the 600-meter mark, she was given a whack with the whip and was travelling ungenerously. Yet once she entered the Randwick straight, it was like a switch was flicked.
She was still eight lengths from leader Red Excitement and tracking Happy Clapper, who proved her major foe and appeared to be traveling better. Bowman again applied the whip twice and away she went.
"Once she got the scent, she just cuts in," Bowman said. "It's almost like autopilot. She didn't travel into it like I'm accustomed to, which surprised me. I wasn't worried, because they were running such (a) fast time.
"When she went, she picked Happy Clapper up in two strides."
Winx reeled in Happy Clapper, who remains frustratingly a group 1 maiden, but has had the misfortune of running into the mighty Winx for two seconds and a third at the highest level at Randwick.
"I (dared) to dream at the top of the straight," said Happy Clapper's trainer, Pat Webster. "But she just dropped into another gear and left us."
The margin stretched as Winx broke the race record with a final time of 1.33.65. Foxplay was another 4 1/2 lengths behind the top two in third.
"We should respect Happy Clapper. She beat a very good horse in his own right and we had to fight to get past him," said Winx's trainer, Chris Waller. "It was good to see her top that rise and see her get a bit closer, because that was the only stage she looked like winning.
"True champions, they normally come out and win. They get beat too. We have to respect that and they can bounce back as well. She is on track for some big races this preparation."
The victory took Winx to 13 top-level wins to equal Zenyatta, with her next target being the 16 grade/group 1 victories held by John Henry.
The expectation continues to grow around Winx, who is likely to have one more run before she attempts to join turf great Kingston Town (AUS) as a three-time Cox Plate (G1) winner.
"Sometimes we are looking at her so differently to other horses because (of) the streak," Waller said, "She has come out and ran a race record and won comfortably, even if it looked hard work.
"I think we just need to enjoy her, because she is truly amazing."
Chris Roots is the chief racing writer for the Sydney Morning Herald.