PAN ZARETA (1910–1918). Pan Zareta, the greatest filly in racehorse history, was born in 1910 at the Newman Stables in Sweetwater, Texas. Dark chestnut, she was bred and owned by J. F. Newman, sired by Abe Frank out of Caddie Griffith. Trained by Harold Newman, a grandson of J. F. Newman, she loved to play, was smart, and easily trained. She started her career on January 14, 1912, by winning a 3½ furlong race in Juarez, Mexico, and winning a purse of $550. During her first year of competition she won thirteen of nineteen and placed in all but one race. Racing in three countries (United States, Mexico, and Canada), her career continued through 1917 while winning 76 of 151 races. She placed in all but twenty-three of those races. No other filly or mare has ever approached those numbers. Career winnings totaled $39,082.
Perhaps her greatest claim to fame was her performance in handicapped races. She ran in one hundred of them and won forty-six. No other racehorse of any class has ever approached that level of performance. She won carrying 146 pounds, a fact unmatched by any other filly. On February 10, 1915, in a match race against the famous quarter horse Joe Blair, she set a world record at Juarez, Mexico, for five furlongs in 57⅕ seconds. The record stood for thirty-five years.
After racing in the New York racing arena, she eventually returned to New Orleans suffering from a lung fever. A month later she died of pneumonia and was buried two days later according the New Orleans Times-Picayune "beneath a giant live oak …just inside the inner rail at the last sixteenth post." Sources differ regarding a specific death date, ranging from January 16 or 19, 1918, to December 25, 1918.
Fair Grounds Race Course in New Orleans inaugurated the six-furlong Pan Zareta Handicap in her honor in 1966. Pan Zareta was inducted into the Fair Ground's Racing Hall of Fame (New Orleans) in 1971, the National Museum of Racing's Hall of Fame (Saratoga Springs, New York) in 1972, and in the Texas Race Horse Hall of Fame (Retama Park-San Antonio) in 1999.
Lee Benham, "Extraordinary Pan Zareta," Texas Livestock Journal, Volume 10 (May 15, 1951). Fair Grounds Race Course Media Guide, November 27, 1997 to March 30, 1998. Thoroughbred Champions (http://www.thoroughbredchampions.com/gallery/panzar.htm), accessed February 4, 2004.