Taking place from late October to early November, the Breeders’ Cup Classic has taken place every year since 1984.
The race is a 1 ¼ mile dirt track and is considered the premier thoroughbred race of the year in the US.
This is because the race is filled with high-quality horses, just look at the current top contenders for the Breeders’ Cup Classic. The winners of the Breeders’ Cup Classic often go on to win the Horse of the Year honors, so clearly these horses are considered some of the best in their field.
Below we have listed some notable winners of the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Each of these horses brought something to the track that has made their victory one for the history books.
Wild Again, 1984
We start off our list with the first-ever winner of the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Wild Again went up against fan favorite Slew O’ Gold and Gate Dancer in a very close race. It had everyone on the edge of their seats and in the end, Wild Again finished by a neck over Gate Dancer. 10 minutes later Gate Dancer was disqualified to third but Wild Again retained his victory.
This race consisted of 2 Kentucky Derby winners battling it out. Ferdinand went against Alysheba in a close game in which he ended up winning by a nose. Alysheba would end up winning the Breeders’ Cup Classic in 1988.
What makes this win notable is that Ferdinand won the Champion Older Male Horse and Horse of the Year that year and is the first winner of the Breeders’ Cup Classic to have been honored with both of these titles.
Sunday Silence, 1989
The rivalry between Sunday Silence and Easy Goer is considered one of the greatest rivalries in horse racing history, and this Breeders’ Cup Classic was their final race against each other.
While Easy Goer had the odds to win, Sunday Silence won by a neck at the wire. It was an intense race that many fans won’t ever forget.
Possibly the most popular winner to come out of the Breeders’ Cup Classic. This is because Arcangues wasn’t expected to win. He was a French horse who had previously only ridden on grass and it was the Jockey’s first time riding him.
Despite all this, Arcangues won against 133-1 odds. To this day, this is still considered the biggest upset in Breeders’ Cup history.
When Cigar entered the Breeders’ Cup Classic he was on a victory streak, and his win here extended it.
He won by an impressive length and speed causing the announcer to call him “unconquerable, invincible, unbeatable,” a phrase that would stick with him until his death in 2014.
Tiznow, 2000 & 2001
Tiznow is not only the only horse to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic twice, but he also won those titles in a row.
It is his 2001 victory that most people remember. Tiznow had some physical problems after his 2000 win but came to the track strong. It was the first Breeders’ Cup Classic after the 911 attacks and morale was down amongst the American people. When Tiznow won the race by a nose the announcer stated, “Tiznow wins it for America!”
Volponi managed to win by a record 6 ½ lengths, the most notable part of this race happened after. Winning over 44 to 1 odds, Volponi’s victory exposed the largest betting scandal in the last century of US history.
Despite never running at that distance, Ghostzapper impressed fans by not only winning the race but setting a speed record. He managed to set a final time of 1:59.02 which is an unofficial Breeders’ Cup record. Since every Cup is at a different track there is no official record.
Zenyatta is the only female horse to have won the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Instead of defending her title at the Ladies’ Classic, Zenyatta entered the Breeders’ Cup Classic through connections.
At this point in her career, she had a perfect run and despite falling behind early in the race she quickly picked up distance and ended up winning by a length over second place.
She is the first horse to win 2 different Breeders’ Cup titles.
American Pharoah, 2015
American Pharoah is the newest winner on our list and this is because he helped to popularize a whole term in horse racing. He is the first horse to complete the Grand Slam of Thoroughbred racing.
This meant he won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, Belmont Stakes, and the Breeders’ Cup Classic all in one season.
As you can see, the Breeders’ Cup Classic is filled with incredible finishes with unpredictable finishes. Due to the talent of all the horses on the track, the odds are usually close. If the win of Arcangues taught us anything, it’s that even the horse no one thought would win, can win.
These intense races are why the Breeders’ Cup Classic is so popular and is one of the richest races in the world.