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It is said, All good things have got to come to an end. Sadly, phenomenons are included in that adage. It appears that the incredible story of the track career of WW Headliner in Birmingham appears to have come to an end due to an injury.
She departs with 123 career wins, 20 short of the All-Time mark. In her last 140 races , she won 113 times. At the time of her injury, she carried a 23 consecutive win streak into the start. After setting the single year all-time wins mark in 2013 with 64 victories, her 41 wins in 45 2014 starts, had her ahead of her record pace of the previous year.
There are two prevailing thoughts as she heads back to Kansas and a new life of giving birth to tomorrow’s champions.
First, Marvel! She was the rarest of star runners. She had no preference as far as post position or race set up. Any post, any weather, any day or night. She could go to the front and dominate. She coukd stalk a speedy frontrunner and wear them down at the wire. On those very few occasions when she was denied a spot on or near the front, her backstretch burst would out her back in contention and she could win in the style of a classic closer. Drop down underneath or swing wide, whatever it took. Her savvy on the track was uncanny. Her instincts in the turns always delivered her to an unscathed clear. Greyhounds are almost always regimented in terms of their racing styles and preferences. Headliner’s style and preference, and her regiment was focused solely on finishing first. Funny thing about the great ones, they fully understand that. The late Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis, would have loved her. She lived his slogan, ” Just Win Baby”
The other thought goes to the same ponderance that emanate when any great athlete is denied the opportunity to author their complete body of work and achievements due to the limitations of their anatomical beings. Speculation of “What might have been” is impossible to suppress. In her prime at just three years and four months, conservatively was looking at 35 more starts in 2014. Even winning 2/3 of those, well below her seasonal 90% clip! that could have been 21 more wins and a total of 144, the all time record. Sadly, like Mickey Mantle, Gale Sayres and scores if ithers, we will never know.
One final note. WW Headliner’s accomplishments were not appreciated to the level it earned and deserved. Tgere is no denying Birmingham competition is not remotely comparable to upper echelon tracks at this stage. However, it should be pointed out that there are Grade A stars now racing at Wheeling and Southland that shipped in from Birmingham. One of them, WW Dove Call, won a stakes in West Memphis. Headliner bested all challengers in the Heart of Dixie. Yes, she may have been a big fish in a smaller pond, but she was Jaws, Shamu and Moby Dick in terms of the record she compiled and the impression she leaves behind.