It would be very easy to list the 10 highest-priced winners in Breeders’ Cup history in ascending order and leave it at that, but with the benefit of hindsight there are always some longshots that make a lot less handicapping sense than others. Here are the results that still leave us befuddled:
10. Sheikh Albadou (1991 Sprint – $54.60) — Few at the time could have have imagined a top European sprinter with a turf-oriented pedigree coming over and beating America’s best on dirt. Horseplayers worldwide would never take our perceived supremacy for granted again after this colt strolled home by three lengths while dual champion Housebuster tired to ninth after injuring himself leaving the gate. Countless Pick 7 tickets were immediately sunk in this first leg as Housebuster was a widely-used single at 2-5.
9. Miss Alleged (1991 Turf – $86.20) — A highly-promising filly at three, she had taken a step or two back this season and entered this off an 11th in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) and fifth in the Washington D.C. International (G1). Relegated to the mutuel field, she stormed from mid-pack to win by a half-length and later validated the victory with another score over Itsallgreektome in the Hollywood Turf Cup (G1).
8. Wilko (2004 Juvenile – $58.60) — Seemingly exposed in Europe, where he had won two minor races in 10 starts, this colt evidently tapped something from his sire, 1998 Classic winner Awesome Again, and broke through with a career-best in his dirt debut. This was the only time he got the better of Afleet Alex, who finished ahead of him in the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness (G1) the following spring.
7. One Dreamer (1994 Distaff – $96.20) — Although a Grade 2 winner over the track six months before, this nominal turf specialist was up against champions Hollywood Wildcat, Heavenly Prize, and Sky Beauty. Jockey Gary Stevens rode one of the great tactical races of his career, sending the gray to the front and thoroughly exploiting the lack of early pace to lead all the way and holding off Heavenly Prize by a neck.
6. Lashkari (1984 Turf – $108.80) — Fireworks on the inaugural Breeders’ Cup program were provided by this French invader, who wore down 1983 Horse of the Year All Along to win by a neck. Aside from facing opponents that were possibly past their prime and thriving on firm ground he rarely encountered at home, there was little else to recommend the colt, whose only other stakes win came in a Group 2 in France.
5. Adoration (2003 Distaff – $83.40) — Unplaced in five of her previous seven starts and with only an overnight handicap win to her credit that season, she and jockey Pat Valenzuela caught their opponents still napping at the early post time of 10:20 a.m. Setting an uncontested, moderate pace, she drew off to win by 4 1/2 lengths while favorites Sightseek, Got Koko, and Take Charge Lady all failed to fire.
4. Volponi (2002 Classic – $89.00) — In a race expected to be dominated by three-year-olds such as Medaglia d’Oro, Came Home, and War Emblem, there was little to suggest this four-year-old, whose only prior graded win on dirt was the 2001 Pegasus (G2), would thoroughly crush the opposition by 6 1/2 lengths. It would be his last career victory, and he would trail a field of 10 in his title defense the following year.
3. Court Vision (2011 Mile – $131.60) — Capable in his earlier days and a respectable fourth and fifth in the previous two editions of the Mile, he entered this renewal having been unplaced in his previous six outings. There was almost nothing in his past performances to suggest he would turn the tables against his Woodbine Mile (G1) conqueror Turallure and the legendary Goldikova, but he did.
2. Take Charge Brandi (2014 Juvenile Fillies – $125.40) — Entering the race off an average margin of defeat of more than 12 lengths in her three previous stakes outings, she looked totally out of place on paper. The maxim of “you can’t win if you don’t run,” often practiced if not always stated by Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas over the years, worked out to his and the filly’s advantage as she commenced a three-race win streak that resulted in an Eclipse Award championship.
1. Arcangues (1993 Classic – $269.20) — While evident by this point in the day that East Coast-based horses were unlikely to be a factor over the Santa Anita strip, expecting this decent but second tier French invader to take an immediate liking to dirt and beat California’s best older males silly qualified as grasping at straws…and still does. There have been numerous Breeders’ Cup aftershocks since then, but the intensity of this mother of all earthquakes seems unlikely to be ever matched again.
Brisnet.com has the early Breeders’ Cup PPs files available for all 13 races — 4 on Breeders’ Cup Friday (30th) and 9 on Breeders’ Cup Saturday (31). Click here to access: http://www.brisnet.com/cgi-bin/special_reps.cgi