The 1988 Breeders' Cup Classic

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The 1988 Breeders’ Cup Classic

Winner: Alysheba

The 1988 Breeders’ Cup World Championships took place at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky on November 5th. It was the fifth 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 the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1).

Heading into the 1988 Breeders’ Cup Classic, Alysheba had won three straight races – the Philip H. Iselin Handicap (G1), the Woodward Handicap (G1), and the Meadowlands Cup Handicap (G1) – and won six of his eight starts. With six graded stakes wins, five grade one victories, and only one finish outside of the money, it was no surprise that Alysheba was considered a top Breeders’ Cup Classic contender.

The 1987 Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness Stakes (G1) winner finished second in the previous year’s Classic to Ferdinand, but he would not be denied this time around, defeating Seeking the Gold by a half length. For a brief moment, the track turned dark and when the darkness lifted, the 71,200 spectators in attendance would be witness to Alysheba rallying from the far turn and wrestling the lead with only one furlong to go. He would not relinquish the lead and crossed the finish line in first with a winning time of 2:04 4/5. Seeking the Gold finished second and Waquoit came in third. Alysheba paid $5 for the win.

“He's a better horse than John Henry,” said jockey Chris McCarron. “It looks like he doesn't win by a lot but he had plenty left today.” Alysheba broke John Henry’s earnings record thanks to his Classic win. The Breeders’ Cup Classic win was Alysheba’s fourth in a row and 11th career victory (including eight grade one wins). He improved his Breeders’ Cup record to 1-1-1.