Kentucky Derby alumni have captured 10 of the 31 runnings of the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic and will have a large presence in this year’s Classic field at Keeneland on October 31st.
American Pharoah, who became the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years, will be the horse to beat as he attempts to improve his record to 7-for-8 this season. The colt looms large for four-time Kentucky Derby-winning conditioner Bob Baffert, but a couple of other talented 3-year-olds from this year’s Kentucky Derby, Frosted (fourth) and Keen Ice (seventh), also merit respect in the projected Classic line-up.
The first running of the Breeders’ Cup Classic in 1984 featured a thrilling three-horse stretch duel, with 31-1 longshot Wild Again edging a pair of fourth-place finishers from the two previous editions of the Kentucky Derby, Gate Dancer and Slew O’ Gold.
The 1985 Classic began a string of six consecutive victories by Kentucky Derby alumni as the 3-year-old Proud Truth, the fifth-place Kentucky Derby finisher, proved best by a head over Gate Dancer.
Two of the most memorable runnings of the Classic featured key performers from the first Jewel of the Triple Crown.
In 1987 at Hollywood Park, 1986 Kentucky Derby winner Ferdinand and 1987 Kentucky Derby winner Alysheba hooked up in a head-to-head battle to the finish line, with Ferdinand prevailing by a scant nose over his younger rival (Alysheba enjoyed Classic glory a year later at Churchill Downs).
In 1989 at Gulfstream Park, the fourth and final meeting between Sunday Silence and Easy Goer provided an epic conclusion, with Sunday Silence denying a fast-closing Easy Goer by a neck, the same order of finish from the Kentucky Derby earlier in the season.
Unbridled is the last Kentucky Derby winner to capture the Classic (1990), but more recent alumni include two-time Horse of the Year Curlin, who captured the 2007 Classic at Monmouth Park after finishing third under the famed Twin Spires at Churchill Downs that year; and 2013 Classic hero Mucho Macho Man, who placed third in the 2011 Run for the Roses.
Here is a breakdown of Classic-winning Kentucky Derby Alumni:
|Year||Classic Winner||Derby Finish (Year)|
|1985||Proud Truth||5th (1985)|
|1989||Sunday Silence||1st (1989)|
|1997||Skip Away||12th (1996)|
|1999||Cat Thief||3rd (1999)|
|2013||Mucho Macho Man||3rd (2011)|