Breeders Cup Winners

by jason

flowers draped over the winning horseTwo years after the pet food heir and leading owner/breeder John R. Gaines had the vision to create a year-end championship for North American horses in which they could take on the best from the rest of the world, the 1984 Breeders’ Cup at Hollywood Park became a reality.

With seven races and $10 million in prize-money it was the richest day in sporting history, an accolade it kept until 2008 when the second day of the extended meeting came second to the riches on offer on Dubai World Cup night.

The first race held was the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and Chief’s Crown would etch his name into history as the inaugural winner. Trained by Roger Laurin the son of Danzig was a quality two-year-old and his Breeders’ Cup win saw Chief’s Secret win the Eclipse Award For Outstanding Two-Year-Old Male Horse. Remarkably he remains the only horse in American racing history to have been a beaten favourite in all three of the US Triple Crown races.

The Breeders’ Cup Classic, which is still considered the highlight of the meeting, got off to the most exciting start with a thrilling three-way photo finish. Favorite Slew O’Gold, the Preakness winner Gate Dancer and the unconsidered 31/1 shot Wild Again battled each other all the way up the home straight in a driving finish. Wild Again pulled out a bit more and crossed the line by a head but a crowd of nearly 70,000, plus the huge television audience, had to endure a 10 minute stewards inquiry before Wild Again was confirmed the winner of the $3 million contest.

Gaines’ wish to see European challengers come to the States was realized and both France and Britain got off the mark. Lashkari struck for Alain De Royer-Dupre in what would mark the start of European domination in the Breeders’ Cup Turf. Royal Heroine, the only filly in a field of nine other male horses, won the Mile and set a track and North American record for eight furlongs on turf. John Gosden’s star was crowned American Champion Female Turf Horse on the back of that blistering effort.

The following year New York hosted the event and it got off to a rousing start when Tasso pipped Storm Cat by a nose in the Juvenile. Storm Cat, although not a great on the track, would go on to become one of the most influential sires of the 20th Century and once commanded a stud fee of $500,000.

Following on from Lashkari the previous year, Clive Britain’s legendary filly Pebbles, secured another win for Europe in the Turf and cemented her status as one of the greatest female racehorses in recent history.

John Velazquez, the Puerto Rican jockey who has established himself as one of the all-time great pilots, rode the first Breeders’ Cup double when he partnered both Twilight Ridge to victory in the Juvenile Fillies and Proud Truth to glory in the Classic.

The 1988 Breeders’ Cup will go down as one of the greatest days in racing history as fans witnessed some of the best performers and performances in track history. It was a brilliant day of firsts. Leading Breeders’ Cup trainer D. Wayne Lukas became the first handler to saddle three winners on a card. French horse Miesque continued the wonderful run of European fillies by winning the Mile for the second year running with a truly dazzling display under Freddie Head. She also became the first horse to win two Breeders’ Cup races.

The Classic, ran under dark stormy skies, was dubbed the ‘Midnight Classic’ and was won by Alysheba. But arguably one of the most iconic moments in Breeders’ Cup history was made in the Ladies‘ Classic, also known then as the Distaff. The undefeated Personal Ensign was beaten at the top of the straight as Winning Colours, one of only three fillies to win the Kentucky Derby, set sail for home. However, somehow galvanised by jockey Randy Romero, Personal Ensign rallied and steadily bridged the gap to triumph by a head.

The 1991 renewal will also go down as a fantastic meeting. In the Sprint Sheikh Albadou became the first foreign-trained horse to win a Breeders’ Cup race on dirt. In the turf Miss Alleged caused one of the biggest upsets in the history of the meeting when the French filly became only the second female to win the Turf. Sent off at 42/1 she thundered down the home stretch to see off a decent male-dominated field.

But it was two-year-old Arazi who stole the show with the most spectacular performance ever seen at the championships. Racing for the first time outside of France against the best juveniles in the world, the first time a European two-year-old had ever even attempted to take on the US’s best juveniles on their home ground, the son of Blushing Groom was also making his first ever start on dirt. To add to the challenge Arazi was drawn the widest of the 14 runner field and had the unfamiliar hands of Pat Valenzuela riding him .

After a slow start Valenzuela’s mount was more than a dozen lengths off the pace setting Californian champion Bertrando but as the field reached the far turn Valenzuela let go of the reins and Arazi stormed past the whole field in a matter of seconds, eventually cantering over the line. Despite being heavily eased down Arazi still won by a Breeders’ Cup Juvenile record of four lengths. American commentators often still use the phrase, ’He’s just pulled an Arazi’ when a horse sweeps by from well off the pace.

Two years later the Breeders’ Cup saw its biggest ever shock and indeed one of the biggest shocks in racing history anywhere in the world. Bertrando, who had been memorably beaten by Arazi in 1991, went to Santa Anita as the hot favorite for the Classic. The Horse of the Year contender swung into the home straight and looked the winner until an unknown French horse, Arcangues, swept by Bertrando under Jerry Bailey to secure a two-length victory at odds of 133/1. It remains the biggest upset in Breeders’ Cup history. Another interesting note in regards to the payout the tote boards only go to 99-1 which goes to show how huge of an underdog Arcangues really was.

Bailey would secure his third straight Classic in 1995 when he rode the great Cigar to a rousing 2 ½ length victory which completed an undefeated ten race season for the Horse of the Year. In the Distaff Inside Information won by 13 ½ lengths with Mike Smith aboard – a Breeders’ Cup winning margin record.

The 1996 championships was the first and only time so far the Breeders’ Cup was held outside the USA. Woodbine in Canada played host with Jenine Sahadi becoming the first female trainer to saddle a winner when Lit De Justice won the Sprint. Cigar fell just short on his final racecourse appearance when he tried to become the first horse to win two Classics. He was third behind surprise winner Alphabet Soup who held off Preakness winner Louis Quatorze by a nose.

A record crowd at Churchill Downs in 1998 saw the ‘greatest comeback since Lazarus’ when Da Hoss, the Mile winner at Woodbine, came back from two years off the track to regain his title having had just one prep race the month before. In 1999 the Filly and Turf was added to the program.

The first Breeders’ Cup of the new millennium started in sensational style with Spain winning the Distaff at 56/1 and then Caressing capturing the Juvenile Fillies at 47/1. In the Classic, Irish training legend Aidan O’Brien’s powerful colt Giant’s Causeway went up against Tiznow who had had to miss the Triple Crown. The latter prevailed by a nose in a dramatic duel up the straight.

Tiznow would go on to land successive Classics the next year and remains the only horse to have won the Classic multiple times, amazingly prevailing by a nose once more, this time over Sahkee.

2003 at Santa Anita went down as another incredible meeting with trainer Richard Mandella enjoying the biggest day in his training career. Ten years earlier at the very same venue he had saddled a double but this time he broke D. Wane Lukas’s record of three wins on a day with a four-timer. The first, Halfbridled, won the Juvenile Fillies allowing Julie Krone to pick up the distinction of becoming the first female rider to win a Breeders’ Cup race. In the Turf defending champion High Chaparral and Mandella’s Johar couldn’t be separated by the judge and so made history as the first dead-heaters in the championship’s history. Mandella’s Pleasantly Perfect then won the Classic at a price of 14/1.

A new era for the Breeders’ Cup began in 2007 when the championships were extended to two days. Curlin took the Classic on his way through a career that saw him retire with earnings of over $10.5 million – a North American record. From 2008-10 the great Goldikova became the first animal to win three Breeders’ Cup races as she successively took the Mile for France. The amazing Zenyatta announced herself to the American public with a last-to-first win in the Ladies Classic in 2008 while Raven’s Pass gave Britain its only win so far in the 2008 Classic.

Zenyatta’s breathtaking victory in the 2009 Classic, the only time a female has won, is considered by many the most amazing moment in Breeders’ Cup history while her defeat the following year in the same race is considered the biggest tragedy in the competition’s history. Losing by a head to Blame having been left with far too much to do by Mike Smith, the race is arguably the most dramatic in history.

The following year Smith made amends to a degree when he rode Drosselmeyer to win the Classic, seeing off  Game On Dude, ridden by his ex-girlfriend Chantal Sutherland. With that win Smith tied Jerry Bailey’s record of 15 Breeders’ Cup wins and, as Bailey has now retired, he will hope to break that record this year at Santa Anita. Here is the official Classic Breeders Cup winner results database including winning times and trainers.

YearBreeders Cup Winner TimeJockeyTrainer
2012TBD
2011Drosselmeyer2:04.27 M. SmithW. Mott
2010Blame2:02.28G. GomezA. Stall
2009Zenyatta2:00.62 M. SmithJ. Shirreffs
2008Raven's Pass1:59.27DettoriV. Cerin
2007Curlin02:00.59R. AlbaradoS. Asmussen
2006Invasor 02:02.18Fernando JaraKiaran McLaughlin
2005Saint Liam02:01.49J. BaileyR. Dutrow Jr
2004Ghostzapper01:59.02J. CastellanoR. Frankel
2003Pleasantly Perfect 1:594/5Alex SolisRichard Mandella
2002Volponi 2:012/5Jose SantosPhilip Johnson
2001Tiznow 2:003/5Chris McCarronJay Robbins
2000Tiznow 2:003/5Chris McCarronJay Robbins
1999Cat Thief 1:592/5Pat DayD. Wayne Lukas
1998Awesome Again 02:02:00 Pat DayPatrick Byrne
1997Skip Away 1:591/5Mike SmithHubert Hine
1996Alphabet Soup 02:01:00 Chris McCarronDavid Hofmans
1995Cigar 1:592/5Jerry BaileyBill Mott
1994Concern 2:022/5Jerry BaileyRichard Small
1993Arcangues2:004/5Jerry BaileyAndre Fabre
1992A.P. Indy2:001/5Eddie DelahoussayeNeil Drysdale
1991Black Tie Affair 2:024/5Jerry BaileyErnie Poulos
1990Unbridled 2:021/5Pat DayCarl Nafzger
1989Sunday Silence 2:001/5Chris McCarronC. Whittingham
1988Alysheba 2:044/5Chris McCarronJack Van Berg
1987Ferdinand 2:012/5Bill ShoemakerC. Whittingham
1986Skywalker 2:002/5Laffit Pincay Jr.M. Whittingham
1985Proud Truth 2:004/5Jorge VelasquezJohn Veitch
1984Wild Again 2:032/5Pat DayVincent Timphony

There has been a bunch of great races in the Breeders Cup so to choose just a few video clips that represent what the Breeders Cup is hard. Below is the previous two years of the Classic $5,000,000 purse.