1986 was maybe the greatest year in sports we have ever seen. The Chicago Bears completed their greatest season ever with a 46-10 shellacking of the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XX. Jack Nicklaus shot 65 on Sunday to come from way back to win The Masters at age 46. Bill Shoemaker also managed to turn back the clock one more time and score a fourth Derby victory aboard Ferdinand (who is the last horse to win the Derby from the #1 post position). The baseball playoffs were unbelievable from the get go, with the Red Sox one strike away from elimination rallying to win the American League Championship Series over snakebitten Gene Mauch and the California Angels. The Mets and Astros engaged in maybe the greatest baseball game ever played in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series to send the Mets to the World Series, where they then defeated the Red Sox after being one strike away from elimination themselves.
Ferdinand would have his moment in the Breeders' Cup sun one year later in 1987. However, in 1986 the Breeders' Cup made its first journey to the foot of the San Gabriel Mountains in California and beautiful Santa Anita Park. The actual star of the day would turn out to be Lady's Secret, winner of the Distaff. She would be voted Horse Of The Year in 1986 following her win in the Distaff, which came after wins in the Ruffian, Beldame, Whitney. Molly Pitcher, and Shuvee. It was an incredible season for Lady's Secret, but she still had to hold off Turkoman for the honors. Turkoman had won the Oaklawn Handicap, The Marlboro Cup, and the Widener leading up to the Cup. If he would have won the Classic, he might have been able to take Horse Of The Year away from the Distaff winner. Turkoman would have to settle for second in the Breeders' Cup Classic, as Laffit Pincay Jr. gave us a demonstration of top-notch race riding. He sent lightly considered Skywalker to the front and then settled back to let Herat set the pace, but Skywalker was never more than a length away from the lead. Once Skywalker took the lead, the horse never looked back. Skywalker won by a length and a half from Turkoman and third place went to the 1985 Sprint Champion, the versatile Precisionist. Turkoman would still be named Champion Older Male Horse in 1986.
It would be the greatest moment in the career of Skywalker, who was named for Star Wars hero, Luke Skywalker, by the son of the owner. He would win eight of twenty starts in his career, compiling earnings of $2,226,750. If you would like to watch Skywalker's victory in the 1986 Breeders' Cup Classic, here is the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EONZMClsuPQ.
Tune in to They Are Off tomorrow for Friday's Breeders' Cup selections. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!