Breeders’ Cup Returns to Scene of Zenyatta’s Triumph
Photo Copyright Eclipse Sportswire
By Emily Shields for TVG
With the 2019 Breeders’ Cup rapidly approaching on November 1 and 2, it is easy to remember a race that took place a decade ago on the very same racetrack, Santa Anita. On November 7, 2009, Zenyatta raced her way into immortality by defeating the males in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, putting on a breathtaking performance to run through the field and score with something left in the tank.
The win is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest moments in Breeders’ Cup Classic history, but there have been several memorable performances.
1980s: Wild Again won the very first Breeders’ Cup Classic, driving on the rail while Slew O’Gold ping ponged between him and Gate Dancer. There was an inquiry into the stretch run, but Wild Again was left up, crowning him the first ever Breeders’ Cup Classic victor in 1984. Three years later Ferdinand outlasted Alysheba in a duel of the Kentucky Derby winners at Hollywood Park; Ferdinand won, but Alysheba rebounded to take the 1988 edition of the race. Sunday Silence capped a tremendous first six years by outrunning longtime rival Easy Goer in the stretch at Gulfstream Park.
1990s: French invader Arcangues’s 133-1 upset of the 1993 Classic rocked the sport; it remains the biggest upset in Breeders’ Cup history. But it was Cigar’s “incomparable” victory in 1995 that stands out; the mighty bay would win 16 races in a row before having his win streak snapped. Skip Away crushed the opposition in the 1997 Classic, defeating the likes of Deputy Commander and Touch Gold by six lengths. Canadian-bred Awesome Again won the 1998 Classic – often considered one of the great fields ever assembled – over Kentucky Derby winner Silver Charm and European invader Swain.
2000s: Tiznow became the first two-time winner of the Classic, scoring in 2000 over Giant’s Causeway at Churchill Downs and then demonstrating undeniable courage to win by a nose over Sakhee in the 2001 edition at Belmont Park. Ghostzapper unleashed a tour de force when winning in 2004 over defending champion Pleasantly Perfect and Hall of Fame racemare Azeri. Invasor and Bernardini threw it down in 2006 at Churchill Downs, and Curlin splashed through the slop at Monmouth Park to win in 2007. Then came Zenyatta in 2009, which set the Santa Anita grandstand rocking. A bronze statue of the great mare stands just yards away from the finish line, looming over the horse path where the runners for the 2019 races head toward the paddock.
2010s: Blame defeated Zenyatta by a narrow head in her bid to win the 2010 Classic and retire unbeaten in 20 starts. The races were run at Churchill Downs two years in a row, with Drosselmeyer upsetting one year later under Mike Smith, offering redemption for Zenyatta’s regular pilot. Triple Crown winner American Pharoah became the first horse to take racing’s Grand Slam when he won the 2015 Classic at Keeneland. He was followed a year later by stablemate Arrogate, also trained by Bob Baffert, who defeated popular California Chrome at Santa Anita.
Who will win the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Classic? Find out November 2 and make sure to wager on the race with TVG.
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