Looking Back at the 5 Best Breeders’ Cup Races

October 7, 2020

By Allie Cooper

Tension is mounting ahead of this season’s exciting Breeders’ Cup, one of the most eagerly anticipated dates on the racing calendar.

The Breeder’s Cup is due to take place on November 6th and 7th at Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky. Starting with the five juvenile races on Friday, the event sees a further seven races taking place on Saturday. The 2020 event, worth $31 million in purses, will be run without fans. One of Thoroughbred horse racing’s most prestigious international events is coming back to the Bluegrass in 2022.

The 2020 event is the 37th to take place and will signal the end of the North American racing season. It has also seen some hugely memorable moments across the lifetime of the events, five of which we examine here.

1991 Juvenile – Arazi

Arazi is a name which will still get racing fans pulses going to this day, a good 30-years after he made the headlines at Churchill Downs. An unfancied, French-trained runner, he came from nowhere to overtake Bertrando (perhaps Bobby Frankel’s greatest horse) to secure the victory.

The story of Arazi is a sad one, not long after his win he was operated on for bone chips in his knees. He was a fancied three-year-old on his return to Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby, but he flopped as the hottest favorite for decades and never recovered.

2010 Classic – Blame

Racing for a $5m pot, Zenyatta was a huge favorite in 2010. She came to at Churchill Downs with an immaculate 19 from 19 record, including a win in the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Classic. She had a habit of coming from behind, thrilling racing fans and that seemed to be the case as she slipped down the order in 2010.

She made a spirited plow through the ranks, reeling in every horse other than Blame. The last 16th of a mile saw some agonizing moments, but the apple of the US horse racing world’s eye did not quite make it.

2009 Classic – Zenyatta

Zenyatta might have been just short in 2010, at the fault of jockey Mike Smith, but in 2009 she made history by being the first female to win the Breeder’s Cup. In the race held at Santa Anita, she lagged seemingly out of the running, until finally powering through the roster to claim a memorable victory.

2001 Classic – Tiznow

Tiznow was sent out at 6-1 in the 2001 Breeders’ Cup Classic, having been ridden by Chris McCarron to victory the year before. No horse had won in successive years before, nor has any since, and Tiznow was not tipped to be close. He prevailed and gave racegoers a classic, pushed by Sakhee all the way. In the end, McCarron and Tiznow claimed a second victory, securing $4m and a place in history.

1988 Distaff – Personal Ensign

Personal Ensign went into the 1988 Distaff with an unblemished 13 wins from 13 outings. In her final career run, she looked to be out of the race early on a dreary day at Churchill Downs. Winning Colors led by some distance, with Personal Ensign seemingly confined to the lower reaches of the card. From nowhere, she powered past Goodbye Halo in second, then reeled in the leader for a photo finish. It was a fairy-tale moment for US racing fans to savor.

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