The 2002 Breeders’ Cup Classic
The 2002 Breeders’ Cup World Championships took place at Arlington Park in Arlington Heights, Illinois on October 26. It was the 19th 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 Classic, it was Travers Stakes winner Medaglia d’Oro (2.7-1 odds) and Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner War Emblem (4-1) in his final North American race who were tabbed as the favorites to win the event. However, in a shocking turn of events, it was 43.5-1 longshot Volponi who would wind up winning the 2002 Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Early race fractions were set by E Dubai: 23.07, 46.63, and 1:10.20. War Emblem briefly took the lead from him before Medaglia d’Oro would lead the pack after a mile in a time of 1:35.59. Volponi would wrestle the lead at the top of the stretch and cross the finish line in first by 6 ½ lengths. His winning time was 2:01.39. Medaglia d’Oro and Milwaukee Brew rounded out the top-three.
Volponi’s 43.5-1 odds saw him pay $89.00, $26.80, and $12.40 across the board. Medaglia d’Oro returned $4.60 to place and $3.80 to show. Milwaukee Brew’s third-pace showing paid $9.60. A $2 Trifecta of 2-7-12 was worth $8,466.20.
“I said come and catch me and he just kept going and going. I think the ground was the perfect condition for him because he likes a little moisture,” said Volponi jockey Jose Santos of the win.
More from Santos: “I told my wife three days ago that he would win! This horse has been doing wonderful. I think the blinkers back on made the difference.”
The win was Volponi’s first Breeders’ Cup victory and his first grade one career win. He had previously won three graded stakes races (G3 2000 Pilgrim Stakes, G2 2001 Pegasus Handicap, 2002 G3 Poker Handicap).