When the Breeders' Cup was conceived back in the early 1980s, the showcase event was always meant to be the Classic, which has the largest purse and most noteworthy horses running in it. There have been 25 Breeders' Cup Classics run and here are my top five:
#5- 1998 Awesome Again- This might have been the most impressive field in the history of the Breeders' Cup Classic. You had Silver Charm, Skip Away, Swain, Victory Gallop, Touch Gold, Coronado's Quest. You also had the winner, Awesome Again. Awesome Again defeated the star-studded field with a well-timed ride from Pat Day. On a personal note, I selected Awesome Again straight out as the winner, so this one might be a bit of a personal choice for the top five.
#4- 1984 Wild Again- The first Breeders' Cup Classic was won by a 31-1 shot that had to be supplemented into the field for $300,000. Again, Pat Day was in the irons for the victory, which came after a stupendous stretch drive that also featured Slew O'Gold and Preakness winner, Gate Dancer. There was an inquiry and Gate Dancer was disqualified from second and placed third behind Slew O'Gold for interference. It was a remarkable end to the first Breeders' Cup day and this event was well on its way.
#3- 2001 Tiznow- The Breeders' Cup was the first major event to be held in the New York metropolitan area in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. Tiznow was the defending champion having won a stirring stretch duel with European runner Giant's Causeway in 2000. History repeated itself as this Classic came down to Tiznow against another Euro invader, Sakhee. Tiznow won the photo finish and this race should be remembered also for Tom Durkin's call of "Tiznow Wins It For America!". Yes, he did.
#2- 1993 Arcangues- I am going to argue the odds of this horse since Jerry Bailey was aboard this French runner on the day of his historic win at 133-1. At that time, Bailey was the best thing on horseback and was in the midst of his four Classic wins in five years streak. How could the betting public let any horse Bailey was on go off at such a ridiculous price? Worse still, how could I not have bet him? In the words of Alex Rodriguez, "I was young and stupid." Arcangues came from nowhere and won, paying $269.20 for a win ticket and putting a pretty bow on the first decade of the Breeders' Cup.
#1- 1989 Sunday Silence- You really need to label this race "Sunday Silence-Easy Goer". This was the fourth and final time the two rivals would meet in 1989. Sunday Silence had won the Derby and Preakness. Easy Goer held home-court advantage and won the Belmont. The two were the focal point of the entire day and they did not disappoint. Sunday Silence made his move on the turn and this time, Pat Day committed a minor error in letting Sunday Silence get far enough away from Easy Goer that the horse in the Phipps colors could not recover. Sunday Silence won and scored the most decisive argument for his greatness by holding a 3-1 margin over Easy Goer on the racetrack.
I know I had to leave out some great ones. A.P. Indy in 1992, Cigar in 1995, Alphabet Soup in 1996, Invasor in 2006, but I am only listing five. If I were David Letterman and had a Top Ten list, it could have been easier. Tune in tomorrow for the Top Five Breeders' Cup Non-Classic moments. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!