THE TEN BEST RACES
It's over two weeks later and I still find myself thinking about this year's Woodward. Rachel Alexandra's win was the perfect storm: an historically significant race with the kind of ending that makes grown men weep.
This had me thinking about other races that fit that criteria. What races that included a major historical achievement had finishes as memorable as the one we saw a few Saturdays ago?
Here is my top ten list of historically significant races with fantastic finishes:
#10 -- 1996 Kentucky Derby
Number ten goes to a human accomplishment: Grindstone's win in the 1996 Derby gave trainer D. Wayne Lucas six straight Triple Crown winners in six tries. Beginning with Tabasco Cat in the 1994 Preakness and Belmont, followed by a sweep of the Triple Crown with two different horses in 1995, Lukas capped off his remarkable run in the Derby with Grindstone's run down the center of the track to beat Cavonnier by a nose:
#9 -- 1984 Breeder's Cup Classic
Wild Again beat Slew O' Gold and Gate Dancer in the inaugural running of the Breeders Cup Classic at Hollywood Park. It is fitting that the day that changed the sport of racing in this country, ended with one of the most exciting finishes in BC history:
#8 -- 2009 Preakness Stakes
Number eight to six is the filly triple crown of fantastic finishes starting with Rachel Alexandra's Preakness. Rachel A became the first filly to win the middle jewel of the Triple Crown since Nellie Morse in 1924:
#7 -- 1980 Kentucky Derby
Genuine Risk became the first filly to win the Derby since Regret in 1915:
#6 -- 2007 Belmont Stakes
In a truly fantastic finish, Rags to Riches held off Curlin to become the first filly to win the Belmont since Tanya in 1905:
#5 -- 1981 Arlington Million
In the first throughbred race with a million dollar purse, John Henry just gets there to beat The Bart by a whisker in the inaugural Arlington Million. As many times as you watch this race, it is hard to believe that John Henry actually hit the wire first. Listen to legendary announder Phil Georgeff's outstanding call and the post race commentary that assumed The Bart had won at 40 to 1.
#4 -- 1988 Breeders Cup Distaff
Personal Ensign -- looking hopelessly beaten in deep stretch -- closes to beat Winning Colors on a muddy track at Churchill Downs. Her win completed a perfect 13 for 13 career and made her the first major racehorse to finish undefeated since Colin.
#3 2001 Breeder's Cup Classic
The 2000 Horse of the Year and BC Classic winner Tiznow, after a lackluster 2001, beat Arc winner Sakhee. Tiznow became (and remains) the only two-time winner of the Classic. The race carried even more weight considering it was run at Belmont Park in New York just weeks after 9/11. Tom Durkin's call of Tiznow winning it "for America" provides a chilling topper to an already storybook ending.
#2 -- 2009 Woodward Stakes
Rachel Alexandra completed a memorable season by beating older males to become the first filly or mare to win the Woodward. Tom Durkin's call of this race matches or exceeds his call of Tiznow in the 2001 BC Classic and Victory Gallop's upset of Real Queit in the 1998 Belmont Stakes.
#1 -- 1978 Belmont Stakes
A Triple Crown on the line and a rivalry between two great horses was the pefect set-up for the 1978 Belmont. Affirmed and Alydar had been knocking heads since the age of two. Their head-to-head battle and Affirmed's victory to become the eleventh and last Triple Crown winner makes this race the unanimous choice for number one on the list of "Historic Races, Fantastic Finishes."
by Colin Ghost
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