30-in-30: Top 10 Breeders' Cups, 1994-2003
Top Breeders' Cup moments 1994-2003
The second decade of the Breeders' Cup World Championships picked up right where the first left off and provided some of the most indelible moments, not only in Breeders' Cup history, but racing history.
Some of the most exciting stretch duels of all time were witnessed by racing fans at Belmont Park, Churchill Downs, and Santa Anita Park, and it was a difficult decision selecting one. But in the end, we had to go with the one race that had the most profound effect on the Breeders' Cup and provided the most surreal moment in the history of the event, transcending the Sport of Kings. That was Tiznow's amazing and inspiring victory in the 2001 Classic, just weeks following 9/11. We will go into more detail of that historic race as part of our "30 Years in 30 Days" feature.
1) 2001 Classic, Tiznow — Who can forget Tom Durkin's "And Tiznow wins it for America" call. A classic call for a classic race, in which Tiznow became the first horse to win back-to-back Classics, defeating European superstars each time.
2) 1998 Mile, Da Hoss — Again, we refer to Tom Durkin's description of Da Hoss' gallant victory, in which he had only one small race at Colonial Downs in two years, as the "Greatest comeback since Lazarus." Appearing beaten, Da Hoss battled back in one of the gutsiest performances ever witnessed to defeat Hawksley Hill by a head.
3) 2000 Classic, Tiznow — This was one of the most gut-wrenching stretch duels in Classic history, as Tiznow, then a 3-year-old, dug in gamely and held off the challenge of Europe's iron horse Giant's Causeway . It became a battle of wills between two of the gamest horses in the world, both of whom were tenacious competitors and near impossible to defeat in a dogfight.
4) 1994 Juvenile Fillies, Flanders — Once again, we had an epic stretch duel, this time between two fillies trained by D. Wayne Lukas, one stabled in California and one in New York. The New York-based Flanders was undefeated and had demolished her foes by 21 lengths in the Frizette Stakes (gr. I). But facing Serena's Song this time, the two Lukas fillies went eyeball to eyeball from the backstretch to the wire, with Flanders giving one final surge to win by a head. She gave everything she had and pulled up after the finish with a career-ending fracture.
5) 1995 Classic, Cigar — This was the coronation of a superstar, as Cigar concluded his 4-year-old campaign unbeaten in 10 starts, winning eight grade I events. This one was Tom Durkin at his finest, as he bellowed in his now-famous call: "The unconquerable, invincible, unbeatable Cigar!" America had a true superhorse, who would go on to further glory the following year, winning the inaugural Dubai World Cup on his way to a 16-race consecutive winning streak.
6) 2003 Turf, High Chaparral and Johar — Was their ever more tension after a Breeders' Cup race than in the '03 Turf when the photo between the Irish-trained High Chaparral, winner of the previous year's BC Turf, and the Dick Mandella-trained Johar resulted in the first ever dead-heat in Breeders' Cup history. It turned out to be Mandella's third of a record four victories in one Breeders' Cup and gave Ballydoyle its second straight win in the Turf.
7) 2000 Sprint, Kona Gold — The old warrior Kona Gold was one of the most persistent Breeders' Cup performers ever, running in the Sprint an amazing five times. After finishing third in '98 and a heartbreaking second in '99, he finally got it done at Churchill Downs in 2000, winning by a hard-earned half-length and setting a new Breeders' Cup record of 1:07 3/5. After a poor effort at Belmont Park in 2001, he returned as a 7-year-old and despite a bad start, turned in a strong rally from 11th to finish fourth, beaten only 3 1/4 lengths.
8) 1996 Sprint, Lit de Justice — Not only did Lit de Justice turn in one of the great stretch runs ever in the BC Sprint, dashing between and inside horses from last place to win going away, he gave his trainer, Jenine Sahadi, the distinction of being the first female trainer to win a Breeders' Cup race. Sahadi would repeat the following year, winning the Sprint again with 16-1 shot Elmhurst.
9) 1995 Distaff, Inside Information — It was debatable who was the stronger part of the Shug McGaughey/Phipps family entry, but there was no debate after Inside Information's total domination over stablemate Heavenly Prize over a muddy Belmont track. The future Hall of Famer's 13 1/2-length romp in a stakes record 1:46 flat remains one of the most powerful performances in Breeders' Cup history.
10) 2002 Distaff, Azeri — Azeri set the bar for Horse of the Year honors in 2002 by starting off the Breeders' Cup card with an authoritative victory in the Distaff, leading every step of the way and winning by five widening lengths for her seventh consecutive victory. When monster longshot Volponi upset the Classic later in the day, it clinched Horse of the Year honors for Azeri and her trainer, Laura De Seroux.
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