Friday, October 22, 2010

Breeders Cup Warmup: the 1998 Classic

Arguably the best field for a Breeders Cup race was assembled for the 1998 Classic. This field included:
  • Skip Away, the defending champion and winner of over 10 Grade 1 races, who if he finished in the money would have been the all-time leader for earnings by a horse (passing Cigar). A Hall of Famer, he was ranked #32 on the list of the top 100 horses of the 20th century.
  • Silver Charm, winner of the '97 Kentucky Derby and Preakness, the '98 Dubai World Cup. Another Hall of Famer, he was ranked #64 on the top 100 thoroughbreds list.
  • Victory Gallop, the runner up in the '98 Derby, Preakness, Haskell and Travers and winner of the Belmont, thwarting Real Quiet's Triple Crown bid.
  • Coronado's Quest, winner of the '98 Haskell, Travers and possibly the most talented 3 year old that year.
  • Awesome Again, who was 5-for-5 that year with strong wins in the Stephen Foster and Whitney.
  • Swain, an international star who had run second to Silver Charm in the Dubai World Cup and was making his second start on dirt.
  • Gentlemen, a now-forgotten excellent handicap horse, who was supplemented to enter the Breeders Cup for (gasp) $800,000.
  • Touch Gold, who vanquished Silver Charm's Triple Crown bid the year before and won the '97 Haskell.
  • Arch, an impeccably bred and quickly improving 3 year old.
What resulted was a classic race, made even more classic by the now-vilified ride Frankie Dettori gave Swain (watch him repeatedly whip Swain in the stretch to much detriment) and Gary Stevens' equally stupid decision to make sure Silver Charm always had Swain in his sights.

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