Courtesy of Becky Johnston
Each year when the Breeders' Cup
comes around I start thinking about the winners of the past. So I thought I would take a look at my top
three races or winners in the seven core Breeders' Cup races.
Breeders' Cup Sprint
I know I'm in the minority, but I
liked when the sprint started the day.
It did seem like horses went faster then. Ohhhh-lympic Prospect and Pine Tree Lane, Groovy and Very Subtle.
1988 Churchill Downs
This field was loaded. Very Subtle, Precisionist, Afleet, Play The
King, Olympic Prospect, but it would be Gulch's day. The son of Mr. Prospector relished the
off-track and the speed in front.
Gulch would go on to sire Kentucky
Derby winner Thunder Gulch, but we would lose Play The King in a handicap race
at Pimlico in 1989. Afleet would go on
to great success at stud also.
1991 Churchill Downs
I was in the stands on this day
too and the race was not anything special, but it was the reaction from
everyone around me when Ton Durkin called the winner in the stretch Sheikh
Albadou. It seemed as if it was in unison
Favorite: 1993 Santa Anita
Meafara repeating her effort from
the year prior where she was just nipped at the end. This year it would be the warrior, Cardmania,
and Eddie D. getting the best of her.
Both were great stories and Gilded Time coming back to run third in the
race after a huge layoff was also impressive for his connections.
Cardmania would be retired to
United Pegasus Foundation, a rescue organization founded by Helen Meredith, the
trainer's wife. Meafara would go on to
produce a Grade 2 stakes winner, Storm the Palace by Storm Cat.
Second Runner-up: 1988 Churchill Downs
Open Mind's win and D. Wayne Lukas
1-2-3-4-5 finish. My favorite part would
be Harvey Pack's instructions to those folks in line to bet $2 to show on the
entry. "Here's your dime, go sit down."
Julie Krone was second on Darby
Shuffle and that was her closest finish to that date.
First Runner-up: 1989 Gulfstream
Go For Wand had given every
indication that the distance would be just her cup of tea. The brilliant two-year-old did not
disappoint. Although we would lose her
the next year in the Breeders' Cup, this was her day.
Winner: 2003 Santa Anita
A filly on the filly. Julie Krone and Halfbridled overcoming the 14
post position. A thrilling performance.
Breeders' Cup Mile
Second Runner-up: 1987 Hollywood
Miesque's first win in the mile,
nailing the track record in such a flashy style. The filly would win again in 1988 and produce
one of the top sires in the world, Kingmambo.
First Runner-up: 1998 Churchill Downs
Da Hoss won the 1996 Breeders' Cup
Mile, but it was his second victory in 1998 off of one prep race in two years
to win in game fashion.
Winner: 1992 Gulfstream
The brilliant Lure taking down the
track record. There is just something
special about a horse that goes to the front, flaunts his speed and just keeps
Breeders' Cup Distaff
Second Runner-up: 1988 Churchill Downs
I know a lot of people will say
this should be on the top of my list, but I have two others I like a little bit
more. No doubt Personal Ensign's
determined drive over Winning Colors is a story that never fades in the
First Runner-up: 1995 Belmont
This was a race that many had
already gifted Serena's Song or Heavenly Prized, but it was the latter filly's
stablemate, Inside Information who would put in a machine-like
performance. After going 45:4 and 1:09:2
the Phipps filly just poured it on. You
can hear the amazement from the crowd at what they were seeing.
Winner: 1993 Santa Anita
Eddie D. proved a point on this
day, you do not need a whip to make a horse run for you. He dropped his whip in the stretch, but
Hollywood Wildcat persevered without it in the win over Paseana.
Breeders' Cup Turf
Second Runner-up: 1990 Belmont
It had been such an atrocious day
with the loss of Go For Wand and the accident in the sprint earlier in the
day. I loved In the Wings and With
Approval before the day began, but at this point, all I wanted was for everyone
to be safe. When they ran down the stretch
together it was a nice moment to make me remember the things I love about the
sport. I already knew from the prior
races what I didn't like.
First Runner-up: 1988 Churchill Downs
This one is close to my heart,
first off because there was a young man with an English accent looking for
candy the morning of the race. I
happened to be at the concession stand at the same time when they were asking. The workers told him they just didn't have
any. I could tell that the young man was
greatly distressed by this. Well, I had
traveled a long way and as young people often do, I packed a purse full of
candy. No sense eating your betting
money plus if you bet your eating money you still have candy to give you a
little bit of energy. I reached into my
purse and pulled out a big handful of Starburst fruit candies and handed them
to the lad, who told me to bet on Skimmer that afternoon. Took me a while to understand that the candy
was for the filly. I thought maybe the
Englishman had lost his betting money already.
Now my next reason is because of
Great Communicator he had so much heart in this race and of course we would
lose him in a racing accident in 1990.
Winner: 1987 Hollywood Cup
This is not only my favorite
Breeders' Cup Turf, this is my favorite race of them all. I loved the story behind the race, the two
owners (Firestone and Paulson) couldn't decide which silks Theatrical would
wear so Paulson bought the Firestones out.
He would wear the red, white and blue and would win over the European Trempolino
who had every chance from the outside position to defeat Theatrical, but just
could not get by the gutsy colt nor his tenacious jockey Pat Day.
Breeders' Cup Juvenile
Second Runner-up: 2001 Belmont
People were so skeptical that Johannesburg could come to America and continue his line of stellar
performance, but wow did he ever. Such a professional move, being behind
horses on an unfamiliar surface and then splitting them in the lane and pulling
First Runner-up: 1991 Churchill Downs
I remember being in the stands
this day and when Arazi made his move you could hear what seemed like the
entire grandstand gasp in unison. I had
goose bumps then and I still get them when I watch it today.
Winner: 1995 Belmont
I felt like Unbridled’s Song was
the lock of a lifetime and on this day, he overcame traffic, inexperience and
he looked like he might never lose. What
a horse. And the runner-up, Hennessey,
ridden by Donna Barton, ran another great race for a female jockey.
Breeders' Cup Classic
Second Runner-up: 1995 Belmont Park
Cigar seemed to come along just
when we needed him most. He provided a
thrilling run of 16 winning races that brought fans together and made us
remember whey we loved this sport, these animals and Tom Durkin.
First Runner-up: 2001 Belmont Park
Tiznow, the daunting presence of
the horse of the year. He must have
known he was carrying the Americans on his back, less than two months after the
9/11 attacks and in New
York. If you will notice how the horses seem to
part for him in the stretch. It was just
meant to be.
Winner: 1987 Hollywood
The other two pale in comparison
in my view from this one. This one was
not difficult at all for me. Ferdinand
will forever be the one. With all he did
for his fans while racing and for all he has done for his fellow thoroughbreds
in his death. Can't say much more than
that. Ferdinand and Alysheba, the two Derby winners hit the wire together. The crowd, the crowd......The way racing should