J. L. Newman
L. Ross Fenstermaker
Susan's Girl was an American Thoroughbred racehorse bred and owned by Fred W. Hooper. Hooper, a prime example of the American Dream, was born poor on a southern farm and eventually became rich enough to buy, breed, and run some of the best Thoroughbred horses of his day. His first purchase was Hoop Jr., named after his son, and winner of the 1945 Kentucky Derby. Over the years Hooper built up a very successful stable from his first canny purchases.
Susan's Girl was born in 1969. Racing as a two-year-old in 1971, she came up against a terrific filly called Numbered Account which made Susan's Girl's debut at the track a little less than auspicious. But as a three-year-old, Susan's Girl began to win races, taking nine out of her thirteen starts, and never finishing out of the money. That year she was the American Champion Three-Year-Old Filly when Secretariat took both the male honors as well as becoming Horse of the Year.
At four, racing on both coasts, Susan's Girl won over $500,000.
By the end of the racing season in 1973, Hooper's filly was second only to the filly Shuvee in earnings. Hooper wanted to see his filly become the first distaffer to win a million dollars. But in February 1974, she chipped a bone in her left foreleg. Hooper sent her to the noted equine surgeon Dr. Robert Copelan. Copelan removed three chips, then sent her home to Hooper's Farm in Ocala, Florida. For two months Susan's Girl swam in the nearby Lake Weir every day. It took nine months, but she recovered and returned to the races.
At the age of five, Susan's Girl made one of racing's biggest comebacks. During her recovery, two females had passed the million dollar mark (Dahlia and Allez France) but these were European records. Hooper still hoped for the American record. In November 1974, Susan's Girl won the Falls City Handicap. And in 1975, at the age of six, she was as good, if not better, than ever. For Susan's Girl it was her leading money winning season, winning six stakes and placed in eight. In the Matchmaker Stakes in Atlantic City, New Jersey, she set a new track record. She beat males and well as older females and made her million plus dollars.
Of her 29 wins, 24 came in stakes races. Susan's Girl is the only filly throughout the Twentieth century to win a three-year old championship and then two older female championships.
As a broodmare, Susan's Girl produced a fine Grade I winner, Copelan, named after her surgeon. She died on Hooper's Farm on October 18, 1988.