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"Haru-urara," or 'Glorious Spring', canters on the dirt just after finishing 10th out of 11 horses in a race watched by more than 10,000 fans at Kochi Racecourse in Kochi, western Japan, Monday, March 22, 2004. Glorious Spring lost her 106th consecutive race, even with Japan's top jockey Yutaka Take on her back. The eight-year-old thoroughbred has earned much attention by losing more than 100 races in a row. (AP Photo/Kyodo News, Yuichiro Izawa) AP/Yuichiro Izawa

Without a doubt, Haru Urara is Japan's most celebrated animal.

Her face is everywhere, and as there's talk of a movie about her life.

She is the star of a television commercial for a supermarket chain.

Before a big race, even the prime minister wishes Haru Urara well.

And at the track, little children shout encouragement.

Haru Urara means Serene Spring, and she's very serene because she's most famous for losing.

One recent race drew thousands to watch her lose again.

And then cheered.

When is the last time a horse got a victory lap for finishing 10th.

The Japanese love her because even in losing, she always runs her heart out. In this country what is most revered is doing your best, giving it your best, no matter the outcome.

Now she's become something else, a good luck charm. A losing betting slip for Urara is called a "no hit" ticket - good luck because it will supposedly prevent you from having a car accident. No hit on your bet, no hit on your car.

A song has been written about her. "Someday I will win," go the lyrics. Her perfect record says otherwise: 106 races so far, 106 losses. No matter. The little horse that can't is a star for racing to the max against even the longest odds.
  • Jaime Holguin

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