Commentary

Breeders' Cup Hits and Misses: Part 2

Updated: August 8, 2007, 5:05 PM ET
By Jeremy Plonk | Special to ESPN.com

Editor's Note: This is the second of a four-part series looking back at the Top 10 Breeders' Cup champions all-time and the Top 10 Breeders' Cup contenders to fall short on racing's championship day. Watch every Breeders' Cup race since the inaugural 1984 edition at BreedersCup.com

  • Part 1: Breeders' Cup Contenders to Fall Short, Nos. 10 - 6.
  • Part 2: Breeders' Cup Contenders to Fall Short, Nos. 5 - 1.
  • Part 3: Breeders' Cup Champions, Nos. 10 - 6.
  • Part 4: Breeders' Cup Champions, Nos. 5 - 1.
  • Several hurdles (a tiny one called the Atlantic Ocean to begin with) annually challenge the European invaders at the Breeders' Cup World Championships. Perhaps it's the travel, or the tighter configuration of American race courses, or the sometimes unseasonably warm weather; but it's impossible to ignore the big-time European runners who have failed to secure trophies in Breeders' Cups past. In fact, four of the 10 runners to make this list hailed from Europe, including three of our top five.

    Still, in this final ranking of the best of the bested, the Top 2 competed in the golden division of the Breeders' Cup World Championships, the Classic. After all, that's the way it should be.

    All-time best Breeders' Cup contenders to fall short, Nos. 5-1


    5. ALL ALONG

    Hollywood Park
    Horsephotos.comHollywood Park hosted the inaugural Breeders' Cup in 1984. In the Turf Division that year, the mare All Along finished second to Lashkari.
    BC History: Second in the 1984 Breeders' Cup Turf at Hollywood Park.

    Credentials: The 1990 Hall of Fame inductee ranks as one of the great turf mares of the past quarter century. The French-bred's 4-year-old season in 1983 boasted victories over the boys in the Arc de Triomphe, Canadian International, Washington D.C. International and Turf Classic at Belmont -- all in a 41-day span. She earned Horse of the Year in 1983 in America, the first female to be honored since Regret in 1915 and the first foreign-bred ever. At 3, the French sensation missed winning the Japan Cup by a scant neck while the runner-up.

    The Skinny: A neck margin also separated her from victory in the inaugural Breeders' Cup Turf, nipped on the wire by longshot winner Lashkari. Even in narrow defeat, she displayed only a shadow of her 4-year-old form at age 5, coming back from a 10-month absence to race just 4 times, the last of which came at Hollywood Park.

    Where Are They Now: All Along died Feb. 23, 2005, at the age of 26 due to infirmities of old age. Pensioned after the 2004 breeding season, she produced 13 foals, but only one major stakes winner.


    4. GIANT'S CAUSEWAY

    BC History: Second in the 2000 Breeders' Cup Classic at Churchill Downs.

    Credentials: Six-time Group 1 winner at age 2 and 3 in Europe, Giant's Causeway was a fantastic blend of championship miler and router. He won five straight Group 1 races, then-matching Nijinsky II's all-time record streak at racing's highest level. Among those scores were the Irish Champion and Juddmonte International. He finished first or second in all 13 career starts, winning 9. Among the runners he left in his wake were championship-level stars Kalinisi, Sakhee and Fantastic Light -- the very best of his generation on two continents.

    The Skinny: Giant's Causeway pumped blood into the bodies of racing fans around the world with a thrilling, stretch-long 2000 Classic battle vs. Tiznow. Though he lost by a neck, Giant's Causeway finished well clear of the likes of Captain Steve, Lemon Drop Kid and Fusaichi Pegasus in his only career dirt attempt.

    Where Are They Now: One of the world's elite young stallions, now 10, he stands at Coolmore's Lexington, Ky., base. A champion sire on two continents, he's already produced the likes of Shamardal, Aragorn, First Samurai and My Typhoon.


    3. SINGSPIEL

    1996 Breeders' Cup Turf
    Horsephotos.comLate bloomer Singspiel finished second to Pilsudski in the 1996 Breeders' Cup Turf.
    BC History: Second in the 1996 Breeders' Cup Turf at Woodbine.

    Credentials: After starting his career 2-for-9 at ages 2 and 3, the son of Breeders' Cup Turf winner In The Wings busted loose at ages 4 and 5, winning 7 of his final 11 career starts. He finished first or second in 17 of 20 starts and earned just under $6 million. His international resume ranks among the greats of all-time, winning the Canadian International, Juddmonte International and Japan Cup on turf, as well as the Dubai World Cup on dirt -- the latter off of a four-month layoff and in his only main-track start.

    The Skinny: With a difficult outside draw (post 10 of 14), Singspiel was forwardly placed and led into deep stretch of his 1996 BC Turf bid, out-kicked late by Pilsudski, but far clear of the rest of the field, which included the likes of Swain.

    Where Are They Now: 15-year-old Singspiel has turned into an outstanding international sire, producing Dubai World Cup winner Moon Ballad and Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks heroine Singhalese among others. The Darley color-bearer stands in Newmarket, England, at Dalham Hall Stud.


    2. SILVER CHARM

    1998 Breeders' Cup Classic
    Horsephotos.comSilver Charm, the only horse to win the Kentucky Derby and the Dubai World Cup, was three-quarters of a length short of Awesome Again in the 1998 Breeders' Cup Classic.
    BC History: Second in the 1998 Breeders' Cup Classic at Churchill Downs.

    Credentials: A 2007 Hall of Fame inductee, Silver Charm was a Grade 2-or-better stakes winner at ages 2, 3, 4 and 5, including the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Dubai World Cup. He remains the only horse to win the World Cup and Kentucky Derby. He finished first or second in each of his first 14 career starts, and 18 of his first 19, before tailing off a bit at age 5. Best known for his rivalry with fellow gray Free House, he earned $6.9 million in his stellar career.

    The Skinny: Silver Charm led in deep stretch of a wild 1998 Classic at Churchill, considered by most the strongest Breeders' Cup race ever run, only to finish second by three-quarters of a length to Awesome Again. In what might have been the strongest field ever assembled in North America, he out-finished the likes of Skip Away, Victory Gallop, Swain, Coronado's Quest and Touch Gold.

    Where Are They Now: Silver Charm, now 13, has been standing stud in Japan since the 2005 breeding season and his first Far Eastern-born runners are 2-year-olds this season. He stands at the Shizunai Stallion Station. Domestically, his most important offspring has been multiple stakes winner Preachinatthebar.


    1. EASY GOER

    1989 Breeders' Cup Classic
    Horsephotos.comEasy Goer, who missed the exacta just once in his career, was second to Sunday Silence in the 1989 Breeders' Cup Classic.
    BC History: Second in the 1988 Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs; Second in the 1989 Classic at Gulfstream Park.

    Credentials: This 1997 Hall of Fame inductee won 14 of 20 overall starts and missed the exacta just once in his career when finishing third in the Met Mile. He was named Champion 2-Year-Old of 1988 despite being upset in Juvenile. At 3, he scored the second-fastest Belmont Stakes ever (only behind Secretariat's world record), while avenging losses to Kentucky Derby and Preakness champ Sunday Silence. The $4.8 million earner also set Aqueduct's 1-mile track record at age 3, a year in which he added the Travers, Whitney, Woodward and Jockey Club Gold Cup.

    The Skinny: Easy Goer's loss in the 1988 Juvenile to Is It True arguably is the biggest upset in the event's 23-year history. There have been longer-priced winners, but few results rate as implausible both on raceday and in retrospect. Meanwhile, the heart-breaking, much-maligned 1989 Classic loss to Sunday Silence in the Gulfstream Park darkness left the eastern icon 1-for-4 lifetime in his heavyweight bouts with the west's Sunday Silence. Staunch supporters to this day stoke their ire with reflections of Pat Day's patient ride in the narrow, runner-up effort.

    Where Are They Now: After only a few seasons at stud, Easy Goer died suddenly in 1994 after what doctors believed to be an allergic reaction/heart attack while playing in a field.

    In Review:

    10. Housebuster
    9. Serena's Song
    8. Flawlessly
    7. Rock Of Gibraltar
    6. Paradise Creek
    5. All Along
    4. Giant's Causeway
    3. Singspiel
    2. Silver Charm
    1. Easy Goer

    Others receiving serious consideration (listed alphabetically): Afleet Alex, Banshee Breeze, Best Pal, Dancing Brave, Dayjur, Gate Dancer, Groovy, Leroidesanimaux, Montjeu, Point Given, Sakhee, Sky Beauty, Spend A Buck, Street Cry, Sunshine Forever, Swain, Turkoman and Xtra Heat.

    Jeremy Plonk is the editor of The HorsePlayer Magazine and its Web site HorsePlayerdaily.com. You can contact Jeremy about your all-time Breeders' Cup thoughts or any racing topic at plonk@horseplayerdaily.com.

    In addition to being a longtime contributing writer to ESPN.com's Horse Racing section, Jeremy Plonk is the editor of The HorsePlayer Magazine.

    ALSO SEE