For Zippy Chippy, this was about as good as it gets. It still wasn't quite enough.
The 9-year-old brown gelding ran his unprecedented losing streak to 87 on Friday, finishing second by a neck in a five-furlong race at the Three-County Fair.
It was at the same track almost a year ago where he became the losingest thoroughbred in U.S. racing history.
"He gave me a good one," owner Felix Monserrate said. "He proved that he can run a little bit. He doesn't stand at the gate."
Zippy Chippy came shooting out of the starting gate and was actually leading for most of the race. But there was some bumping with winner Black Rifle. Monserrate said jockey Juan Rohena had to hold Zippy back a little bit because of the bumping.
Rohena lodged a protest against Black Rifle after the race, but it was denied.
The five-furlong race was a maiden one, which meant that all competing horses had never won before.
Some fans still favored Zippy Chippy even after he lost.
"He's got heart," Marie Klebart of South Windsor, Conn., said after cheering on Zippy Chippy.
Monserrate, 57, from Farmington, N.Y., acquired Zippy Chippy in a 1995 trade with his breeder for an old van.
Zippy has finished second seven times. He has earned $29,000, largely paying his own way, Monserrate said.
Yet his bent for staying at the starting gate when the race begins something he didn't do Friday would have ended another horse's racing days.
Monserrate acknowledges he and his 11-year-old daughter have become attached to this balky horse, despite its tendency to bite and kick its keepers.
At many tracks, though, Zippy Chippy is banned as a blight on bettors.
However, the Northampton track has welcomed him and supplied a temporary stable.
Skeptical race fan Jack Leonard of Chicopee did not bet on Zippy Chippy himself, but placed wagers of $10 and $2 on the long hot for relatives. Zippy Chippy went off at odds of 6-1.
"They said he's due, but I said he's been due 86 other races," Leonard said. "He'll probably be due another 86."
Ted Sparko of Easthampton said he owned his own horse for two years, but sold it when it didn't win a race. Still, he supported Zippy Chippy's efforts.
"I say anyone that can race, let him go," he said.
Monserrate hopes to race Zippy here again on Sept. 17.
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