Over its 36-year history, the Breeders’ Cup World Championships has seen its share of upsets. Some, of course, were much bigger than others.
Here’s a look back at two of the biggest surprises in Breeders’ Cup history:
The 2000 Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Churchill Downs looked like little more than a coronation for RIBOLETTA.
The Brazilian-bred mare entered the race having Won six in a row and seven of her last eight races, including five Grade 1s. A Win in the Distaff would have made her a potential Horse of the Year contender.
Based on her strong Past Performances, she was hammered down to 2-5 odds, making her one of the heaviest favorites in Breeders’ Cup history.
Only eight fillies and mares were entered to face RIBOLETTA, including the D. Wayne Lukas trained 3-year-old filly SPAIN. She had Won two Graded Stakes earlier in the year, one in July and one in September, but her form was a bit inconsistent.
Bettors preferred her stablemate, SURFSIDE, who went off as the 10-1 fourth choice. SPAIN was dismissed at 56-1, the second-biggest longshot in the race.
As the field turned for home, RIBOLETTA was done in by a wide trip and came up empty in the stretch.
Meanwhile, Victor Espinoza sent SPAIN through an opening on the rail and wore down her stablemate. SPAIN finished 1 ¼ lengths in front, with SURFSIDE holding on for 2nd to complete the Lukas exacta.
She paid $113.80 for the Win, while a $2 Exacta brought back $664.60 !
The 1993 Breeders’ Cup Classic remains the biggest upset in BC history by a wide margin.
A Kentucky-bred based in France, ARCANGUES (pronounced Ar-KONG) was almost completely unknown to American bettors going into the 1993 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park. He won a Grade 1 race on turf earlier in the year, but had never raced on dirt before.
ARCANGUES, at 133-1, was far and away the biggest longshot in the field.
Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Baily accepted the mount on ARCANGUES as he was in need of a ride after the retirement of Kentucky Derby and Travers Winner SEA HERO.
Baily was unfamiliar with the horse’s running style and was unable to understand the instructions given by the assistant trainer.
He elected to keep ARCANGUES in mid-pack while BERTRANDO set the pace. As they turned for home, BERTRANDO remained in front while ARCANGUES was toward the rail and buried behind horses. In the stretch, a hole opened up just off the rail, and Bailey moved through it with ARCANGUES.
BERTRANDO had no response to his European rival, and ARCANGUES surged past to Win by two lengths and post a monumental upset.
A $2 Win wager paid $269.20. The highest in the history of the event.