The 1986 Breeders’ Cup Classic

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The 1986 Breeders’ Cup Classic

Winner: Skywalker

The 1986 Breeders’ Cup World Championships took place at Aqueduct Racetrack Santa Anita Park, in Arcadia, California on November 1st. It was the third edition of the premier North American horse racing event and featured a number of exciting races and finishes. One of the highlights of the card was an upset in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1).

Skywalker was having an under-the-radar successful 1986 campaign, winning three of his seven races heading into the Breeders’ Cup Classic – the Mervyn LeRoy Handicap (G2), the San Diego Handicap (G3), and the Longacres Mile (G2). However, he didn’t race in any of the Triple Crown races, although he did finish sixth in last year’s Kentucky Derby (G1), and he started his 1986 season with a third-place result in an allowance race at Santa Anita Park. He was considered a 10-1 longshot to win the Classic.

No one was really expecting much from Skywalker in the Classic, other than possibly his trainer Michael Whittingham and jockey Laffit A. Pincay, Jr. Pincay, who won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile with Capote earlier in the day, put on a show guiding Skywalker to victory. Herat set the early pace, while Precisionist would take the lead and be in front of Skywalker. Pincay and Skywalker would eventually pin Precisionist along the rails and take hold of the lead with three furlongs remaining. Precisionist nor a surging Turkoman were able to catch up, leading Skywalker to victory by 1 1/4 lengths. Turkoman and Precisionist, who were both considered Horse of the Year candidates heading into the Classic, finished second and third, respectively.

“I tell you,” said a triumphant Pincay following the race. “I'm as happy now as the time I won the [1984] Kentucky Derby on Swale.” It was Skywalker’s first career Breeders’ Cup win in his first career Breeders’ Cup start. He improved his record to 7-2-2 in 15 starts.