When Paul Saylor purchased Fleet Indian at the 2006 Keeneland January mixed sale, he had modest expectations and plans for the then 5-year-old mare. The Atlanta businessman hoped she could win some New York-bred stakes races and then be bred to Claiborne Farm stallion Purge, a grade I-winning son of Pulpit in whom he owns a part. What he was not expecting was that his $290,000 purchase would become a multiple grade I winner, a standout in her division, and be named champion older female for 2006.

For a solid year, the Indian Charlie mare was unbeatable. Her major wins came in the Personal Ensign and Beldame Stakes (both gr. I), and the Todd Pletcher trainee took an eight-race win streak into the Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Distaff (gr. I) Nov. 4 at Churchill Downs.

Hopes were high going into the Distaff, and Fleet Indian entered the starting the gate as a slight favorite over Pine Island, but neither mare would finish the race. Fleet Indian turned out to be the lucky one as she suffered an injury to her left front suspensory ligament, but survived, while Pine Island was euthanized on the track.

“I wanted a good race and a safe race and didn’t get either,” Saylor said. “I went from being on a high because I was confident she could win the race to an absolute low because when I reached her, the first prognosis was that there was bone damage, not just soft tissue damage. I was absolutely elated a half-hour later, after she was examined in the stall. I felt like I had won the race after that.”

Although Fleet Indian’s fairy tale season ended on a sour note, Saylor prefers to focus on the positives of the year. While proud of her front-running victories in the Personal Ensign and the Delaware (gr. II), Sixty Sails (gr. III), Next Move (gr. III), and Obeah Handicaps, which she won by a combined 31 lengths, Saylor mentioned his favorite race was Fleet Indian’s closest—the Beldame, which she won by a head.