Taking place just a month after the tragedy of 9/11, this Classic matched defending champion Tiznow against the Arc de Triomphe winner, Dubai-owned Sakhee. Preakness winner Louis Quatorze and Belmont winner Editor’s Note completed the field.
What are the greatest horse races of all time? I can’t claim to have seen them all, since my horse racing consciousness only starts with Secretariat’s amazing Belmont Stakes win in 1973, which I watched with awe at home with my family crowded around the TV set. Fighting a quarter crack, he may not have been at his physical best here, but his heart was never in doubt.
1988 Breeders Cup Distaff – Personal Ensign vs. You have to pity The Bart, who looked a winner all the way round only to get out-bobbed at the wire. From then on, I was hooked on the sport of kings. Chic Anderson’s superb race call complements the greatest race ever.
1989 Preakness – Sunday Silence vs. Sadly, he never lived up the the hype thereafter, but this amazing race was the real deal.
1987 Breeders Cup Classic – Ferdinand vs. Note how Alydar fails to switch leads in the stretch, a flaw which may have kept him from besting his rival.
2001 Breeders Cup Classic – Tiznow vs. The embedded video below is just the finish of the race; the full race can be seen at this link.
1996 Jockey Club Gold Cup – Skip Away vs. Easy Goer
Who was better, Easy Goer or Sunday Silence? This epic race may have finally answered the question, with former champion Blushing John tossed into the mix for good measure.
1973 Belmont Stakes – Secretariat Wins Triple Crown
How could I start with anything else? I still get chills from watching this race, in which the great Secretariat not only sealed the Triple Crown, but shattered the record for 12 furlongs on the dirt. Feel free to add your choices for the best races in the comments section below.
1981 Arlington Million – John Henry
The great John Henry made the inaugural running of the Arlington Million a memorable one. Cigar
Two of the greats of the 90’s hook up in the Jockey Club at Belmont. East coast stalwart Easy Goer was out to avenge his Derby loss to California-based Sunday Silence. Easy Goer
It’s hard to imagine a more dramatic race than this. But of course John Henry, one of the smartest horses as well as one of the best, did have a habit of doing that.
1996 Dubai World Cup Classic – Cigar
The mighty Cigar was going for his fourteenth straight win in the first Dubai World Cup. Winning Colors
The undefeated Personal Ensign in her last career race runs up against the former Derby winning filly, a revivified Winning Colors. This is a selection of my choices for the greatest races since 1973, pulled from the great treasure trove of horse racing videos on Youtube.
1978 Belmont Stakes – Affirmed vs. Even though I know who wins, I still found myself leaning in my chair as the two crossed the line together.
1989 Breeders Cup Classic – Sunday Silence vs. Tom Dirkin’s “Tiznow wins it for America”, may seem a bit over the top in retrospect, but at the time it had a real resonance. A desperate finish ensues.
1997 Preakness Stakes – Silver Charm et al.
Silver Charm, Captain Bodgit, Free House, and Touch Gold, all amazing horses in their own right, battle it out in one of the best Triple Crown Races ever. Alydar
In the culmination of their great Triple Crown battle, the two greats battle neck and neck around the track, with the game and gutsy Affirmed prevailing by a head. Did Pat Day move prematurly and comprimise Easy Goer’s chances? Judge for yourself.
. Keep an eye on Touch Gold, who stumbled at the break, but may have run the best race of all.
1991 Breeders Cup Juvenile – Arazi
The European superhorse Arazi stunned the world with his electrifying move to the front, passing horses like they were standing still. AlyshebaThe two Derby winners hook up in a classic of Classics. Cigar may have been just a trifle past his sell-by date after a long campaign that year, but he still gave Skip Away all he could handle
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