Breeders' Cup Winners of the Past

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. 

Second Runner-up

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.


First Runner-up

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 "Sheikh Alba-WHO?"


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. 


Juvenille Fillies

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 Park

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 Park

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 on going.


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 retelling.


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

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 away.


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 Park

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 be.

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