TARRYTOWN, N.Y. — A Westminster dog show unlike any of its 144 predecessors came to a close late Sunday night, when Wasabi, a three-year-old Pekingese, from East Berlin, Pa., took a star turn on the banks of the Hudson River, taking home Best in Show honors, the most coveted prize in the sport.
Contested away from Madison Square Garden for the first time since 1877, the show – the second oldest continuously running sport event in the U.S. (the Kentucky Derby is first) – was held in a pitched white tent on the grounds of a 19th century Gothic mansion named Lyndhurst, a 25-mile relocation that aimed to avoid any possible pandemic complications. The dogs didn’t seem to miss the midtown mayhem or big-building buzz at all; indeed, by all appearances they thought the open space and fresh air were the next best thing to a treat.
Certainly Wasabi had no problem with the transition, outlasting some 2,500 competitors over two long days to become – quite literally – Top Dog.
David Fitzpatrick is Wasabi's owner and handler. The reserve slot was given to Bourbon the whippet.
Wasabi the Pekingese wins Best in Show at the 145th Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. (Photo: Michael Loccisano, Getty Images)
Toy group wins Best in Show for first time since 2013
“People think a dog show is a beauty contest, and to some extent it is,” said Patricia Trotter, an 85-year-old Westminster icon who served as Best in Show judge, on the eve of the competition. “But truly when you are judging pure bred dogs you are judging not just their athletic ability, and their beauty, but how close they come to the breed standard.”
Trotter, winner of a record 11 group wins at Westminster, had the daunting responsibility of selecting the winner all by herself. Best in Show is selected from seven competitors – each of whom first had to Best in Breed, and then best in one the seven groups that purebred dogs are divided into: Hound, Toy, Non-sporting, Sporting, Herding, Working and Terrier.
🏆 BEST. IN. SHOW.🏆
The ribbon goes to Wasabi the Pekingese! #WKCDogShowpic.twitter.com/0Cy84P8kwz
The tent was festooned with purple and gold panels, with flower arrangements and lighting to match. Although the show was closed to the ticket-buying public, several hundred spectators – family and friends of owners and handlers – made for a boisterous atmosphere, the excitement reaching its zenith a few minutes before 11 p.m. ET, when Wasabi earned the big prize.
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