The Classic is the marquee event of the Breeders' Cup every year, but on some occasions the other races supplant the Classic as the story because of their extraordinary circumstances. Here are my choices for the Top Five non-Classic Breeders' Cup moments:
#5- Thirty Slews (1992 Sprint)- Thirty Slews was a relative longshot in the Sprint at Gulfstream Park in 1992. He ended up paying $39.40 for the victory and didn't do much to follow up his Breeders' Cup victory. The significance of this race is not really the horse, but the man behind him. Thirty Slews was the first Breeders' Cup victory for trainer Bob Baffert. Baffert has won multiple Triple Crown and Breeders' Cup races since this win, of course, and he was inducted in the Thoroughbred Racing Hall Of Fame earlier this year.
#4- Favorite Trick (1997 Juvenile)- Favorite Trick became only the second 2-year-old to be named Horse Of The Year (joining Secretariat) after he capped his undefeated season with an impressive win in the Juvenile at Hollywood Park in 1997. Of course, Favorite Trick was among the many who flopped in the Derby following a Juvenile win, finishing eighth on the First Saturday in May in 1998. He did go on to win the Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga in the summer of 1998.
#3- High Chapparal/ Johar (2003 Turf)- This is the only dead-heat in the history of the Breeders' Cup. High Chapparal and Johar ended up in the tie, with Falbrav just a nostril behind them in one of the most thrilling photo-finishes in Breeders' Cup history. High Chapparal actually joined a short, but strong, list by winning the same Breeders' Cup race in back-to-back years. He had won the 2002 Turf at Arlington Park. Johar came from last-to-first in this most thrilling edition of the Turf ever.
#2- Da Hoss (1998 Mile)- Da Hoss had won the Mile in 1996 at Woodbine. He then went away. Literally, he only had one relatively easy prep race leading up to the 1998 Mile at Churchill Downs. That was his only race in the two years between Mile victories. This win is considered by many to be the greatest training accomplishment ever and it came from Michael Dickinson. Announcer Tom Durkin called it, "The greatest comeback since Lazarus!!", and he may have been correct.
#1- Personal Ensign (1988 Distaff)- Personal Ensign was perfect when she stepped onto the sloppy track at Churchill Downs for the Distaff. She would have to defeat that year's Kentucky Derby winner, Winning Colors, to maintain her perfect record which stood at 12 for 12 entering the Distaff. She did not care for the sloppy track at all and that was evident to everyone as soon as she stepped onto the slop. It didn't matter, because Personal Ensign had a champion's heart and she needed every bit of it to run down Winning Colors in the shadow of the wire and retire an undefeated champion. She was inducted into the Hall Of Fame in 1993.
Tune in tomorrow for Friday selections from yours truly and Martha Claussen of SureBet Racing News. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!