Even before the event expanded to a two-day affair beginning in 2007, the Breeders' Cup World Championships routinely produced one indelible moment after another, beginning with a disqualification — of all things — in the inaugural 1984 Breeders' Cup Classic.
Trying to pare down the best of the best moments from some of racing's all-timers is like trying to pick out only green M&Ms — a fun job that is inherently going to skip over some good stuff.
Hence, in chronological order — because we're not going to start a Twitter war by ranking them — are what we have settled on as the top 10 best moments in Breeders' Cup history.
1988 Distaff: One of the most emotional moments in racing history takes place when Personal Ensign overcomes a muddy track and Kentucky Derby winner Winning Colors to get up in the final strides after looking hopelessly beaten in the stretch. With that win, Personal Ensign becomes the first horse in more than 80 years to retire undefeated and sound, a perfect 13-for-13 for her career.
Never miss a local story.
1988 Classic: In near darkness and with year-end hardware hanging in the balance, Alysheba dispatches one of the greatest Breeders' Cup fields of all time to seal Horse of the Year honors and retire as the then-richest racehorse of all time with $6,679,242 in earnings, moving ahead of the legendary John Henry.
1989 Classic: In the fourth and final meeting between dual classic winner Sunday Silence and his Belmont Stakes conquerer Easy Goer, it is the Kentucky Derby and Preakness hero who holds on under a vigorous hand ride from Chris McCarron to defeat Easy Goer by a neck and seal Horse of the Year honors. The Classic win gives Sunday Silence a 3-1 edge over the horse who would follow him into the Hall of Fame and ends the best rivalry since Affirmed and Alydar.
1991 Juvenile: In one of the most visually stunning moves ever seen, Arazi races from last to first to overtake Bertrando and draw off to win by 5 lengths in his first career start on dirt. That breathtaking win not only earns Arazi the Eclipse Award for champion 2-year-old male but has many believing he is the second coming of Secretariat. Unfortunately, he underwent surgery on both knees after the Breeders' Cup and tired badly in the 1992 Kentucky Derby, finishing eighth.
1995 Classic: In the defining race of his legendary career, "the incomparable, invincible, unbeatable Cigar" — as so perfectly deemed by announcer Tom Durkin — draws off to a 2½ -length win in 1:592⁄5 to complete a perfect 10-for-10 season and cement Horse of the Year honors.
1998 Mile: In what Tom Durkin aptly calls "the greatest comeback since Lazarus," Da Hoss — winner of the 1996 Mile — edges out Hawksley Hill after a remarkable stretch drive to win the race for a second time after having just one start in two years.
2001 Classic: In the first major international sporting event held in New York after 9-11, Tiznow becomes the first two-time winner of the Classic when he — for the second straight year — comes out on top of a photo finish, this time defeating top European star Sakhee by a nose. Tiznow had bested Coolmore star Giant's Causeway by a neck in 2000 for his first Classic win.
2009 Classic: By the time Zenyatta steps in the Santa Anita Park gate for the 2009 Classic, the only thing she has left to achieve on the racetrack is a victory against males. The boys who line up against her have no answer for the massive mare's remarkable late turn of foot as she defeats champion Gio Ponti by a length before her home crowd in California, leaving even announcer Trevor Denman breathless as he declares her "Un-be-lievable!" at the wire.
2010 Mile: Freddy Head had already put himself in the Breeders' Cup annals when he piloted Miesque to back-to-back wins in the 1987 and '88 editions of Mile. The champion jockey-turned-trainer helps craft another milestone in the event's history as another brilliant filly in his care, champion Goldikova, becomes the first and only horse thus far to win three Breeders' Cup races when she captures the Mile for a third consecutive year.
2010 Classic: Heading into her career finale under the lights at Churchill Downs, Zenyatta has transcended racing with her unfailing ability to get her big body in front in each of her 19 prior starts. While her greatness will never be denied, perfection is not to be for the eventual Horse of the Year as Blame — a champion in his own right — hands Zenyatta the only loss of her career when he surges to the lead in the final furlong and refuses to yield, getting his head down at the wire to leave the 72,739 in attendance stunned.