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Top 10 Breeders’ Cup Moments Of The Past 30 Years

This coming Friday and Saturday, November 1-2, 2013, emanating from Santa Anita Racetrack, yet again (and will be next year as well), will be the 30th Running of Horse Racing’s equivalent of the Super Bowl, the Breeder’s Cup. Over the two days, top horses from all over the world will be competing in various races to determine the champions for various categories.

Every year, since it’s inception in 1984, racing fans look forward to this weekend to see a champion crowned, or a new star in the making. It is also great for betting, because anything can and does happen in the Breeder’s Cup. I love it, because in the early years of the Cup, when the event would go from track to track every year, like it is supposed to, I liked seeing reactions to the races of different groups of people.

[adinserter block=”1″]Over the 30 years of the Breeder’s Cup, so many great races and moments have occurred, at many different tracks. In the Cup’s inception, the idea of the event was that the Breeder’s Cup was supposed to be at a different track each year. For whatever reason, the Breeder’s Cup has gone between Churchill Downs in Louisville, KY and Santa Anita, in Arcadia, CA, the past few years.

Now, since the 2012 running, the event has been run at Santa Anita. While it is a pretty track, it would be great if other tracks got to host the event, as not everyone can afford a trip to California. Whether there is politics, issues with NBC, or whatever, I hope it is solved. I think it is rather boring seeing the Breeder’s Cup in one place.

Anyway, over the 30 years, there have been so many great moments. Many bloggers have done their 30 moments lists, and such. I am going to be a bit more selective. I am going to blog about my personal top 10 moments of the 30 years of the Breeder’s Cup. These moments are the ones that I personally found special. This will NOT be a definitive “Top 10” list. This list will just be races that are personal to me.

I hope you will enjoy this, and before I continue, today, Monday, was the post position draw for the Breeder’s Cup races. This week, I will have a 2 part blog previewing this weekend’s big event.

Here we go:

10. 1993 Breeder’s Cup Mile: Lure Successfully Defends Title

About 20 years before the miler sensation Wise Dan came on the scene, a beautiful horse name Lure was tearing it up at the mile distance. I mean, Lure just kicked butt, and took names in his prime. I loved Lure. This son of Danzig , out of an Alydar mare, named Endear was on top of his game, when Breeder’s Cup season came. He won the 1992 BC Mile, and came back to win the Mile for a second time.

The reason this is one of my favorites is that Lure ran into some trouble early on. He got pushed wide, like some of the horses. However, he was so talented, that he overcame it. Even the 45 and change that he set, would not stop him. Lure would not be denied. Awesome race, by an awesome horse.


9. 1994 Breeder’s Cup Classic: Concern Nails Tabasco Cat To Win Classic

The type of horse that I love the most is the one that comes “out of the clouds” and makes that huge one run, and tries to win coming from way back. Horses like Silky Sullivan, Strike the Gold, and Giacomo fit that description. Well, the 1994 BC Classic had all this and more. All of 1994, a horse named Concern had a concern (pun intended). He’d be second a lot. He was notably second to Holly Bull in that year’s Travers, after making that huge run.

Well, Holly Bull didn’t show up in the Classic, but other horses like Derby winner Go For Gin, and Preakness/Belmont winner Tabasco Cat, Dramatic Gold, and Bertrando did. So did Concern, and this race was awesome. I loved this race. It was a real heart-stopper. Just to see Tabasco Cat get nailed on the wire was so awesome. Loved it. I got chills.


8. 1992 Breeder’s Cup Distaff: Paseana Wins The Distaff With Ease

Now, this blog is not going to be ALL about the boys. The gals take a bow this time. I loved Paseana. She was one of my favorite racing mares. Ridden by Chris McCarron, and trained by Ron MacNally, Paseana was one of the BC’s best female stars. I always looked forward to watching her run against top females like Sky Beauty, Lite Light, and Hollywood Wildcat.

This race was awesome. Paseana showed the star studded field who the boss was. Hollywood Wildcat (even with her rider, Eddie Delahoussaye dropping the whip) would hand Paseana a narrow defeat in the same race, a year later, but this race just shows how Paseana was so brilliant. Without a doubt, Paseana is just amazing. I can watch the race repeatedly.


7. 2009 Breeder’s Cup Classic: Zenyatta Runs Down A Game Gio Ponti To Become the First Female Classic Winner.

I love this race for a totally different reason that you’d think. I DID love that a female champion mare named Zenyatta beat the boys, and became the first female horse to win the Classic. I totally believe in GIRL POWER. It was an amazing spectacle to see Zenyatta run down the boys from over 10 lengths behind to finish her year unbeaten.

She was going to retire after that race, but due to her followers love for her, and such, she was brought back to racing, and her career ended with a narrow second place finish to Blame in the 2010 Classic. After that defeat, Zenyatta was loved even more. She’s the Peyton Manning of horse racing. Poor Blame was treated like Tom Brady, and lost Horse of the Year Honors to Zenyatta.

As wonderful as Zenyatta’s victory was, it is not the reason I have this race in my top 10 BC races that I love the most. It is that I got introduced to the horse that finished second, Gio Ponti. In all of the coverage of that race, all the announcers were talking about was Zenyatta. It was Zenyatta this, and Zenyatta that.

Barely any of the other horses were mentioned, so I had NO idea who Gio Ponti was. I was familiar with the rest of the horses, such as Summer Bird (2009 Belmont Winner), Mine that Bird (2009 KY Derby Winner), and many others, though. I also was preoccupied with following the awesome Rachel Alexandra that year.

As the horses came down the stretch, I was concentrating on where Zenyatta was, but when they got closer to the wire, I noticed this VERY HANDSOME bay horse with dark green silks charging down on the inside, and grabbing the lead. I was thinking, “Who is THAT handsome one?” Well, on the outside came Zenyatta who had to work her tail off to run him down, and history was made.

However, I never forgot that handsome bay horse that was second. Once I looked Gio Ponti up, and found out who he was, and what an accomplished horse he was, I was impressed. I became a Gio Ponti fan instantly. The fact that besides being sired by Tale of the Cat, and being out of an Alydar mare named Chipeta Springs didn’t hurt either.

Fortunately, he would continue his racing career until retiring at the age of 6. I love Gio Ponti. I see him as much as possible at Castleton Lyons, where he stands at stud. Even though Gio Ponti would never win a Breeder’s Cup race, he is a winner to me(Three time Eclipse Award winner, so he’s no slouch).


6. 1989 Breeder’s Cup Classic: Sunday Silence Just Holds Off Rival Easy Goer

This is about one of my all time favorite horses, and one of my favorite Alydar sons, Easy Goer, and his arch-rival, Sunday Silence. Only 11 years prior, Easy Goer’s sire, Alydar was involved in what we horse racing fans called “the Rivalry” with HIS arch-rival, Affirmed, where Affirmed won 7 of 10 meetings, including all 3 Triple Crown races. Similarly, Easy Goer and Sunday Silence were in a rivalry where they met 4 times with “Silence” winning 3, and “Goer” winning 1 (the Belmont Stakes, denying “Silence” the Triple Crown).

The race itself was terrific. I wanted Easy Goer to win. I always cheered for him. I was not happy that his jockey was Pat Day, though. Look, I love Day. He is one of the best jockeys ever. He’s a Hall of Famer, and all.

However, his nickname given by the fans is “PatWaitAllDay,” because sometimes the “clock in his head” goes off, and he doesn’t listen sometimes. It is like he puts on the “snooze” button. What I am trying to say is that at times, he waits to make his move on the horse, and he costs the horse the race. Bettors, and fans get really ticked when he does that.

I always believed, and will always believe that Easy Goer was the better horse. I just think that in a couple of his races, especially in this race, Pat’s riding cost him.

Anyway, this race was great. Chris McCarron, replacing regular jockey Pat Valenzuela (on 60 day suspension due to cocaine positive), gave Sunday Silence an excellent ride. He saw Easy Goer coming, and really got after Sunday Silence. Easy Goer made one final surge, but came up just short.

What a great race by two great horses.


5. 1994 Juvenile Fillies: Flanders Holds Off Serena’s Song In An Amazing Duel

I love this race. Wayne Lukas is an awesome trainer of any horse, but he is particularly great, when it comes to fillies. I don’t know what it is, but he is awesome when bringing along fillies. In this race, he had two awesome 2YO fillies, Flanders, and Serena’s Song. The two put on an amazing show, especially in the stretch.

When the two hit the stretch, it was Flanders on the inside, and Serena’s Song on the outside. I couldn’t choose between the two. It was so excited. The two were just noses apart. The crowd was going nuts. Flanders fought so hard, and kept digging in. Flanders held on to win by a nose. It was an amazing race.

Unfortunately, Flanders suffered an injury during the race, and was retired. Serena’s Song went on to become a very good racehorse.


4. 1993 Breeder’s Cup Classic: Arcangues Pulls A Shocker At 133-1

This race is one of my favorites. I just love it. It reminds my of my father (RIP), who loved horses, and racing. My dad would tell me stories about racing, and Man O’ War. Yes, I had an older father, let’s say. My father was the one who introduced me to racing, and loved playing the long shots. Trust me, this is a race involving a HUGE long shot.

I am at home, and watching the race. I really had no interest in anyone in the field. My beloved Strike the Gold had retired in June of 1993 because of an ankle injury. I wasn’t a huge Best Pal, or Colonial Affair fan, and I had NO IDEA who Bertrando was, so I just sat and watched.

The gates opened, and the speedy Bertrando shot out of there like a bat out of hell, and led all the way, till about mid-stretch. I thought Bertrando was home free (so did Gary Stevens, as he said in the post race interview), when all of a sudden, from out of nowhere, this nice looking chestnut, ridden by Jerry Bailey, blows by Bertrando, and takes the lead, and wins the race!

I wondered, “Who the hell was that?” The announcer announced his name as “Arcangues,” and I was saying, “WHO?” Of course, we find out that the horse was owned by the French, and the European won the Classic, etc. Well, the kicker was that Arcangues was 131-1!! That was not a typo.

Jerry Bailey, the winning rider, said that he knew nothing about him. Bailey said that he got his instructions from the trainer in French. As he didn’t understand a word, he just went with what the horse, and got a good spot, and won the race.

Whomever bet this horse must have a nice dinner, to say the least.


3. 1988 Breeder’s Cup Distaff: Personal Ensign Nails Winning Colors To Remain Undefeated

I am a huge fan of Winning Colors. I also love Personal Ensign, but it was so hard to choose who I wanted to win. Did I want Personal Ensign to retire undefeated, or did I want Winning Colors to win? Decisions, decisions. Well, I loved Winning Colors so much, so I went with her. What will be, will be. I had to stick with what I picked.

Well, on that muddy track, it looked like Winning Colors broke well. During most of the race, she was loose on the lead. During the stretch run, even though she was tiring, I thought she’d hang on. I was screaming at the TV, cheering her on. Of course, like the champ, she was, here comes Personal Ensign, like a freight train, made a huge move, and kept on coming. She nailed Winning Colors right on the wire.

I was so sad for Winning Colors. I mean, to work so hard just to get beat like that. However, it was great to see a great horse like Personal Ensign go out a champ, and undefeated. Highly recommended.


2. 1987 Breeder’s Cup Classic: Ferdinand Holds Off Alysheba In The Battle Of Derby Winners

This was a race for the ages. Two Kentucky Derby winners racing against each other. There was Horse of the Year honors on the line as well. It was a very exciting race. Bill Shoemaker, one of the best jockeys ever to put on the silks, was under pressure to win a Breeder’s Cup race. Shoemaker was on Ferdinand, the 1986 Kentucky Derby winner. Chris McCarron, also one of the best ever, was on Alysheba, the 1987 Kentucky Derby (and Preakness) winner. This was a game of chess.

The race featured the defending Classic champion, Skywalker, and others. Announcer Tom Durkin was on top of this game. Being the Alydar fanatic that I am, I was cheering on Alysheba like crazy. It was amazing to see him picking up horses one by one in that amazing stretch drive.

I have to give props to Bill Shoemaker and Ferdinand though. Ferdinand also made that great move, and just held off the on-charging Alysheba by a nose. Seeing the two just battling each other was incredible. It was a spectacle that defines why horse racing lovers love this sport.


1. 1988 Breeder’s Cup Classic: “America’s Horse” Alysheba Wins And Becomes The (then) World’s Richest Horse.

Way before Curlin came along, and before the Zenyatta craze, a horse named Alysheba captured racing fans’ imagination. He was, in 1988, a 4 YO chestnut, and a handsome son of the great sire, Alydar(who was also awesome on the track). Alysheba won 6 of 8 races he entered, including the Woodward Handicap, and the Santa Anita Handicap.

If he won the BC Classic, he’d not only be the Horse of the Year for 1988, he’d be (at the time), the World’s Richest HORSE. At the time, before the Dubai World Cup was created, the Breeder’s Cup Classic, was the world’s richest race.

[adinserter block=”2″]This is my favorite Breeder’s Cup race, and moment of all time. I have always loved Alysheba. He’s one of my favorite Derby winners, and one of my favorite Alydar sons. As Alydar is my all time favorite horse, I love seeing a horse with Alydar in his/her bloodline win a big race. At that point, Alydar was still living, but on November 15, 1990, Alydar died, so I get particularly get more emotional when a horse connected to Alydar wins of late (Gio Ponti, Blame, etc.).

Alysheba hated an off track. It rained that week, and the track was muddy. Had it not been the Classic, and so much at stake, I am sure that Alysheba would have been scratched. However, he came out of the dark,in that mud, and won the Classic against some top notched company such as Seeking the Gold, Waquoit, and Forty Niner.

Alysheba was “America’s Horse,” then, and even though he’s passed on, he is still “America’s Horse” in my eyes.


Well, these are my 10 favorite Breeder’s Cup Races to whet your appetite for this weekend’s Breeder’s Cup. I hope you enjoyed the blog.

Terri Bey currently blogs for CamelClutchBlog.com about Wrestling, NFL, and other sports/pop culture related subjects. Her work has appeared in BleacherReport and for F4WOnline.com. Terri can be found here at Facebook- http://www.facebook.com/TerriBey and at Twitter- http://www.twitter.com/giopontifan

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Terri Bey currently blogs for CamelClutchBlog.com about Wrestling, NFL, and other sports/pop culture related subjects. Her work has appeared in BleacherReport and for F4WOnline.com. Terri can be found here at Facebook- http://www.facebook.com/TerriBey and at Twitter- http://www.twitter.com/giopontifan


  1. It is a shame now that the Breeders Cup is now an afterthought in the world of sports. College football rules on Saturday. Even the triple crown races has much of their luster now.


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