'Laura Is A Big Winner Today' was just superior in the final of the 2016 Million Dollar Race. After a distance of 336 miles (537 km) she finished first with a fifteen-minute (!) lead. She was the first of 2,161 birds, of which only 43 arrived home the first day. Temperatures of over over 30°C (88°F) and a moderate head wind made it a very hard race, with Mike Ganus's ace winning the race with an average speed of 1,130 ypm. 'A working race', as pigeon fanciers call it.
Written in the stars
Mike Ganus's victory was meant to be when we have a closer look at the winner's descent. 'Laura Is A Big Winner Today' is a child of DV02656-10-85, who in turn is the father to Rubbellos, the winner of the 2012 Million Dollar Pigeon Race. This star breeder was bought by Mike in one of PIPA's auctions. From her mother's side, the 2016 winner comes from two top-prize winners in the 2013 Million Dollar Race final: Untamed Desert (1st) and Said In Spun Silver (2nd), both bought by Mike in the public auction in South Africa. Click here to see the pedigree of 'Laura Is A Big Winner Today'.
Because of avian influenza regulations, all US birds including Mike Ganus's winner had to go back to the States after the final race and were not sold in South Africa. Last weekend, the first lot of these birds was sold online in the States. After some serious last-minute bidding, Mike Ganus won the final bid and managed to buy 'Laura Is A Big Winner Today' back. He paid a little over $100,000 to have her back, making it the most expensive pigeon ever sold in the United States and the highest price ever paid for a bird in the South African Million Dollar Pigeon Race.