Looking Back At Three Great Breeders Cup Upsets
The Breeders’ Cup is one of the most anticipated events outside of the Triple Crown, and for the third time in its history, it’s due to touch down at Keeneland this year.
Inaugurated in 1984, it doesn’t have the history of some of the other thoroughbred events, but it is no less lucrative. In 2018, the total prize purses available topped $30m, and three Breeders’ Cup races are ranked among the top Grade 1 races in the world: the Classic, the Turf and the Mile.
In 2021, the event took place at the Del Mar Racetrack in California, and Bleacher Report explains how $31m was handed out in prize money, including $6m in the Classic, won by Knicks Go. This year, Country Grammer and Flightline lead the hunt in the Ladbrokes horse racing odds for the top prize, but Early Voting could be one to keep an eye on further down the list. Sporting News report he surprised the field at Preakness but missed the Belmont Stakes later in the calendar.
Being priced down the list doesn’t rule a horse out in any race, especially not the Breeders’ Cup meet. It’s been the site of some huge upsets over the years, and to get you in the mood for the event, we’ve picked three of the best for you to relive here.
Arcangues, 1993 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Few events in horse racing, let alone the Breeders’ Cup, were as surprising as the 1993 Breeders’ Cup Classic. Arcangues was a 99-1 outsider, a European horse with inconsistent turf form running on a surface he’d never tried. The jockey, Jerry Bailey, was given minimal instructions in a language he barely understood. The result? A shocking explosive late burst from seventh through the pack to secure a win that nobody could have predicted. It’s a race still talked about today, thirty years later.
Order of Australia, 2020 Breeders’ Cup Mile
The 2020 event was held at Keeneland under Covid-19 restrictions, but that added to the element of shock when it came to the Breeders’ Cup Mile. One Master was a two-time winner of the Group 1 Qatar Prix de la Foret and fifth-place finisher in the 2018 Mile, but on race day, he was scratched, and in came Order of Australia. He was a 73-1 outside, jockeyed by Pierre Charles Boudot instead of Christophe Soumillon, who tested positive for the virus. The outcome? A fantastic run, holding off stablemate Circus Maximus by a neck to take the $2m prize purse.
Bar of Gold, 2017 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint
Unique Bella was the overwhelming favorite for the 2017 Filly and Mare Sprint; she entered on the back of a five-race winning streak and looked the only likely winner from the field. Bar of Gold, a 66-1 outsider, had won the Yaddo Stakes three months prior but had looked a decent prospect only on turf or synthetic. Unique Bella set the early pace, getting off to a blistering start, but she faded around the half-mile, and those trackside watched as Bar of Gold showed amazing power. She was 13th after the half-mile but came up on the other 12 horses and won by a nose from Ami’s Mesa. It was the final race of her career and a truly amazing way to bow out.