Most Memorable Breeders' Cup Performances/Races

Steve Haskin's Look Back at the Decade 

Editors of The Blood-Horse challenged senior correspondent Steve Haskin to fill in the blanks on several “best of” lists for the decade of 2000-2009. While several of them appear in the Dec. 26/Jan. 2 combined issue of the magazine (mailing on Dec. 29), there wasn’t space for them all.

Over the coming days until the end of the year, all of Steve’s lists will be posted here with readers of encouraged to comment.

Most Memorable Breeders' Cup Performances/Races

1. Zenyatta 2009 Breeders' Cup Classic

2. Tiznow 2001 Breeders' Cup Classic

3. Tiznow 2000 Breeders' Cup Classic

4. Invasor 2006 Breeders' Cup Classic

5. Midnight Lute 2007 Breeders' Cup Sprint

6. High Chaparral/Johar dead-heat 2003 Breeders' Cup Turf

7. Goldikova 2009 Breeders' Cup Mile

8. Azeri 2002 Breeders' Cup Distaff

9. Midnight Lute 2008 Breeders' Cup Sprint

10. (tie) Ouija Board 2006 Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf

10. (tie) Goldikova 2008 Breeders' Cup Mile


Previous Lists:

12/21/09 - Most Physically Impressive Horses
12/22/09 - Most Memorable Triple Crown Performances


Leave a Comment:


i think azeri gets forgotten over the last few years,just a brilliant horse until they gave her to lucas. would love to seen azeri throw down with rachel, 2 fast fillies.

23 Dec 2009 3:21 PM

oh gotta love that tiznow, true 1 1/4 horse that bailed me out 2 years in a row.

23 Dec 2009 3:41 PM
steve from st louis

I can close my eyes and remember each of those races as vividly as if they were just run. Midnight Lute's "jumping in at the quarter pole" move in 2007 had to be the highlight for me although it's inpossible to argue with any of the 10 choices, Steve, I guess you did it again. Pardon me, it's again post time.

23 Dec 2009 3:44 PM

Kona Gold in BC Sprint: after being 3rd in '98, second in '99, he wins in '00.

Pleasantly Perfect doing his part to make a 'perfectly pleasant' day for his trainer ;-)

23 Dec 2009 3:48 PM

Maybe I'm biased, but I would've included English Channel's romp in the Turf a couple years back.  Still, great list.

23 Dec 2009 4:01 PM

Great performances all.  My list:

1. Zenyatta (why not, simply extraordinary consider how the race was run and how dominant she was)

2. Midnight Lute (2007 unbelievable kick home.  I still can’t believe it)

3. Curlin (Simply because he was such a dominant winner in a top class field)

4. Ghostzapper (fastest Classic yet and he easily handled a top class field.  Proved how great he was in a ten race only career.  We really missed out on something with this guy)

5. Street Sense (his juvenile win was made even more special because of the connections and the fact that finally a Juvenile winner would go on to win the Derby)

23 Dec 2009 4:12 PM

Curlin's 07 Classic was one of the most powerful performances of the year. That was one of his best performances that put an exclamation point on his rise from unknown maiden to Classic winner in only a few months.

23 Dec 2009 4:18 PM

In my opinion, the most Breeders' Cup Performance Races in the decade of 2000s were the races from 2006 at Churchill Downs thorough 2009 at Oak Tree At Santa Anita because all of the Breeders' Cup races were announced by Del Mar and Santa Anita track announcer Trevor Denman. Trevor is the best Breeders' Cup Announcer that I ever listen to, even though I did my own race commentary on the 2003 Breeders' Cup from Oak Tree thorough the 2005 Breeders' Cup at Belmont Park at my own home when I was a teenager, but Trevor is truly the best I ever listen to when he announced the 2008 and 2009 Breeders' Cup Races at Oak Tree At Santa Anita.

23 Dec 2009 4:21 PM

I like your top ten, though I would switch Zen and Tiz's 2001 race :)

23 Dec 2009 4:22 PM

I've been following the breeders cup since 1984 and I have to honestly say Zenyatta's win in the Breeders Cup Classic wins the gold star for me. What a breath taking win.  

23 Dec 2009 4:53 PM

I think Precious Passion should be on the list. Even though he didn't win, the race he ran was one of the greatest losing performances in BC history. But other than that I love this list! What a horse Zenyatta is!

23 Dec 2009 4:58 PM
Mindy C.

Zenyatta was certainly great, but Tiznow's 2 victories were an unbelievable feat.  What a wonderful stallion he has also turned into as well...

23 Dec 2009 5:36 PM

To me, Zenyatta's Classic win is by far, the best one, because she was and is the only female to win it thus far.

23 Dec 2009 6:17 PM

Absolutely...Zenyatta's Classic and "Tiznow wins it for America."  Chills every time!

23 Dec 2009 6:59 PM

Where, oh, where is Curlin's 2007 BC Classic? It wasn't his biggest performance but it was a very clean, classy race and was another score for him as the fantastic stallion he was and is.

Goldikova, though she is not a classic distance runner, is overlooked when not being mentioned with this years great females. She belongs with Rachel and Zenyatta and that Australian filly I can't name right now (lol).

And yay for Tiznow! He just drove on, business like, did what he had to do.

23 Dec 2009 6:59 PM

As previously stated, memorable and best are not necessarily the same.  However:

Ghostzapper 1:59.02, not in the top 10 even??

23 Dec 2009 7:12 PM

Great stuff Steve,could spend all day talkin horses,just don't have all day.It's obvious 2009 is the year of the female but looking back it could also be the decade of the female.With Goldikova,Oiji Board,Rag's to Riches,Makybe Diva in Aus.Azeri and others around the globe truly showing the boys they mean bussiness. MERRY CHRISTMAS ALL

23 Dec 2009 7:22 PM

Azeri rocks!  First chance I've had to see the race, so impressive!

23 Dec 2009 7:34 PM
Sammi P

100% agree with you putting Zenyatta on top, I will never forget that race. Goldikova and Azeri were great races too.

23 Dec 2009 7:58 PM

2000 Mile - War Chant at the wire - beautiful ride.......

23 Dec 2009 8:10 PM

Zenyatta. Everything else ties for last place.

23 Dec 2009 8:27 PM
Lost in the Fog

Tiznow BC Classic 2001=BC race of the decade.  

23 Dec 2009 9:03 PM

Ouija Board & Zenyatta are the only 2 on the list that really jump out to me.

23 Dec 2009 9:11 PM

Azeri..WOW!!..i had forgotten how fast she went 3/4  and drew off as if she still had another gear..impressive!!

23 Dec 2009 9:38 PM

Well,  For the first time ever I agree with most of Haskins picks, especially Zenyatta this year and Tiznow's 2001 victory over Sakhee, although Sweet Catomine, HalfBrideled and Vindication were more than awesome in their Breeders Cup win.

23 Dec 2009 9:48 PM
Emily W

2007 classic!

23 Dec 2009 10:06 PM

Zenyatta in this year's Classic.  Her 10 second last 1/16 is legendary!

23 Dec 2009 11:20 PM
John T

I notice you say this is your most

memorable Breeders Cup performances/races,from 2000-2009,which of course has nothing whatsoever to do with the best performances.To me the two best performances during that period were both by Tiznow.True, he may not have beaten those calbre of horses

on a synthectic surface or turf,but

under the conditions of the race on

dirt it was two of the most gutsy performance by a racehorse I have ever seen.

23 Dec 2009 11:28 PM

Zenyatta all the way. That race had me on my feet and screaming. It was simply amazing.

24 Dec 2009 1:08 AM

Good list - I agree with them all.  The only thing I'd add is Richard Mandella's 4 winners in 2003 because his reaction made it my most memorable Breeder's Cup.  So I'd put a grouping with Pleasantly Perfect, Halfbridled, Action This Day & Johar (who is already on Mr. Haskin's list).  

Merry Christmas to everyone.  

24 Dec 2009 1:16 AM

I think a race that was left off the top 10 was Personal Ensign win over Winning Colors in the distaff. Winning her thirteen in a row was a great accomplishment and it was also a great race.

24 Dec 2009 1:26 AM

I was on track for most of the Breeders Cups this decade, and Zenyatta's 2009 Classic and Tiznow's 2001 Classic standout for me as well.  All-time great races!

24 Dec 2009 5:08 AM

Thanks Steve, for all the joy you give us.

Happy Hanukah

Merry Christmas

Joy To The World to my fellow horse lovers!

24 Dec 2009 6:01 AM
Practical horse fan

ENOUGH!!!  I am so tired of all the hoopla surrounding this years BCC!  Come on people, the FAVORITE did what she was supposed to do,,,,Win!  This last to first garbage has got to stop as well, she wasn't last anytime on the backstretch, so if we continue to do this banter, please talk about all the other horses that have been last going down a front stretch and ending up winning.  The Tiznow races are clearly exciting and worthy of moving up in the rankings.  This years Presious Passion defeat was also a very worthy candidate for one of the best races.  Enough of the hype, take the names of the horses off the screen and then judge what you should be judging, the quality of these fine horses and their outstanding races!

24 Dec 2009 9:46 AM

love the list...once again, no arguments from me. I would however, nominate Corinthian for that romp in the SLOPPIEST of the SLOP @ Monmouth in the inaugural Dirt Mile. A Beast!!

24 Dec 2009 10:08 AM

INVASORRRRRR  What a horse!! Love Him

24 Dec 2009 10:31 AM
Virgil Fox

Steve -

No dispute with your top three, only one of which (Z) I was able to watch as it occurred, experience the build-up to the race and the uncertainty of the outcome.

That said, I cannot find the words to describe how I feel when watching either of Tiznow’s Classics.  

I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve watched them – on the internet, poor video/audio, knowing the outcome and minus any swell of pre-race story lines (equine, human, national, global).  

Those two races, inseparable, are most memorable to me – and they happened a decade ago when I was completely oblivious to thoroughbred racing.

So, in my case, perhaps ‘memorable’ is not the most appropriate word, but, somehow, I know I’ll never forget them.

- Peace to All

24 Dec 2009 11:09 AM

Hello Mr. Haskin. Did you do this selection before from 1990 to 1999? I´m asking because from 2000 to 2009 seems to be an easy work. Your choices are practically unqustionables, above all the number one. Zenyatta´s victory will be remenmbered as one of the most memorables in the Breeders Cup history. But, from 1990 to 1999... Wow, there are so many good Breeders Cup performances. Thanks for this moment of entertainmant and habppy holidays for you and for your readers.  

24 Dec 2009 11:36 AM


Personal Ensign beat Winning Colors in 1988,this list is the best of 2000-2009

24 Dec 2009 12:06 PM
Linda in Texas

Just to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and as i write this at 11:08 cst, it is snowing in Brownwood, TX of all places. It was 75 degrees last evening. Just voted for the most memorable race of the decade and along with a majority 27 per cent of the voters, I, too, voted for Rags to Riches winning the Belmont!! Hated to not vote for Smarty, but we women need to stick together. Cheers and thanks Steve Haskin and family for your great love of Thoroughbred Horses and all things in the racing world.

Cheers to all and remember to send a little something to help equine rehab and rescue. And for Steve's list, of course, Zenyatta, then Tiz and Azeri.

24 Dec 2009 12:17 PM

Love the list!  I couldn't believe that Tiznow, double winner of the BC Classic had a stud fee of only $25,000 for years.  But now he is prooven to be a quality sire.  And again, how great was Zenyatta!  And to see Ouiji Board, Azeri,Goldicova, Midnight Lute.  I would have preferred Personal Ensign in the top 10.

24 Dec 2009 12:31 PM

I correct myself - Personal Ensign was not in this decade although it was a race for the ages.

24 Dec 2009 12:34 PM

I love the list but would put Ghostzapper and Curlin ahead of Invasor

24 Dec 2009 1:16 PM
Mike S

The Breeders Cup has showcased so many brilliant and wonderful performances over the years that it's almost hard to pick out a distinctly best race or performance. But ZENYATTA changed all that with her 2009 Breeders Cup Classic win. That was the most exciting horse race I've ever witnessed, "live," in the last 36 years of going to the races!

Prior to this victory I would have chosen TIZNOW's 2001 BC Classic victory.

Speaking of ZENYATTA and TIZNOW...I would love to see a foal with that parentage in 2011!

24 Dec 2009 1:41 PM
El Angelo

No Storm Flag Flying in the '02 JF?

24 Dec 2009 2:01 PM

Definitely agree with the top 3. Also glad to see Ouija Board and Goldikova on the list for their amazing performances. I'd love to see Street Sense and Ghostzapper on the list, too.

24 Dec 2009 2:24 PM

I'll remember Zenyatta's race for as long as I live, a glorious moment. Aeri was unbelievable and who can honestly say that they didn't think Mike Smith was crazy running those early fractions? Then, that tiny little filly Goldikova in 2008 was shocking. She zoomed out of that hole between those horses and was gone. WOW.

24 Dec 2009 4:51 PM

Hey Steve great list! WOW, 5 of the 11 races were run at SA. Not bad for a west coast track. I guess that is why we call it "The Great Race Place." I have a great idea, let's have the BC at CD every year instead. What do you think Steve? Doesn't that sound like a great idea?

25 Dec 2009 3:16 AM

I'm pretty happy to have seen some of these races in person. Zenyatta's Classic is unforgettable.

25 Dec 2009 3:35 AM

First of all, I for one am kind of glad not to see Ghostzapper's Classic on this list of 10.  I have no argument with anyone who thinks he is the most brilliant horse of the decade, but that Classic was literally set up for him with Roses In May just sitting there the whole way around off of a very comfortable pace.  Both Stronach & Ramsey knew that if they ding-donged with each other, it would hand the Classic to Pleasantly Perfect.  So, in spite of a very impressive final time and all, it doesn't belong in the top 10 most impressive Breeders Cup races of the decade, in my opinion.  Kudos Steve for leaving it off, even though you were risking wrath and ridicule!

The only BC race that was left out that I think belongs is Halfbridled's Juvie Filly race in 2003.  I have no idea what race already there that I would replace with it, which goes to show how difficult an exercise like this is.  But what that amazon 2yo filly did in that race was just mindboggling!  Breaking from the 13-hole (which was why she was 5/2), she just circled the field, hopelessly wide, and just laughed at them as she crossed the wire.

Just for some perspective, the filly well back in second in that race was the wonderful Ashado, who only ended her career with 9 GI races and two Eclipse Awards!  With her win in the Distaff the following year, Ashado came the closest to winning two different Breeders Cup races of any horse in BC history, until Zenyatta did it in November.

It really is a shame that there's no room for Halfbridled on this list.  I understand, but it's still a shame.

25 Dec 2009 11:17 AM

What a great Christmas treat to be able to watch these races again, from start to finish. I agree with Mr. Haskin's choices 100%. Zenyatta's race still takes my breath away, and Tiznow - running those two gritty Classic races and defeating two champions the way he did. Incredible. I had almost forgotten Invasor's BC Classic triumph. Bernardini was a sure winner until Invasor blew by. I think racing fans tend to dismiss Invasor and this is so wrong. He was a brilliant racehorse. It is interesting how some will never give a good horse credit no matter what they do to earn it. Reminds me of how bettors and later breeders treated the magnificent Sunday Silence. Thank you, Mr. Haskin, for putting these videos together.

25 Dec 2009 11:39 AM

As racing declines faster here in California than in the rest of the country, it was an honor to be standing by the finish line watching Zenyatta make history.  I've been to all the Los Angeles Breeders Cups, and this was by far the biggest moment.  Big Z turned Santa Anita into a rock concert.  She may be the last great one to come from the left coast as in 20

10, Sunland will steal away even more good horses from the Santa Anita Derby.  WE NEED HELP OUT HERE!

25 Dec 2009 10:10 PM


Her race was the stuff of legend

26 Dec 2009 2:43 AM

I agree with you wholeheartedly, especially with the first 3!

27 Dec 2009 4:52 PM
Soldier Course

I agree with every choice here, to a number.


Is it too late to add a list for your Top Ten Race Calls of the decade? I'd like to nominate Tom Durkin's 2001 Breeders' Cup Classic call: "Tiznow wins it for America!" Not just that conclusion, but the entire call of that race was like a symphony.

27 Dec 2009 8:45 PM

The BCC in 04/02 my opinion were one of the best fields ever. Very deep and talented. I would put it above this years. Dirt is a much more gruel surface to race on and the horse have to dig down harder and deeper.

27 Dec 2009 10:07 PM

invasor finish with a six wins straigh by bernardini,at 1 1/8 pole he stop by him for a second ,and ask him ,hey body lets go .then after that he won 2 more gr 1 to win 7 in a row,(bc classic.dubaiwcup,withney at saratoga etc)  .2006 horse of the first three 1) zenyatta 2)invasor 3)gosthzapper

28 Dec 2009 4:18 AM

What about Storm Flag Flyin at Arlington Park, when she battled back.  That has to be in the top 10.

Tiznow at Belmont is #1, "For the Americans"

28 Dec 2009 9:32 AM

After Zenyatta's Classic win they all rate only as Honorable Mention or also rans. No race comes close to being in the same league.

28 Dec 2009 12:32 PM
Backside Sweetie

I've been watching every Breeders Cup since they started and other than the horses from my barn,such as With Anticipation,Forever Together,Informed Decision,Cloudy'sKnight none could ever be more memorable to me than the one and only Zenyatta!!!Long live the Queen,hope to see her babies.

28 Dec 2009 8:00 PM

I will never ever forget Zenyatta and Tiznow.

30 Dec 2009 11:55 PM

Midnight Lute's '07 win in the Sprint... Gives me the chills everytime

03 Jan 2010 5:35 PM

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