10 Greatest Breeders’ Cup Classic Winners Of All Time

10 Greatest Breeders' Cup Classic Winners Of All Time

As we’re nearing the 2023 Breeders’ Cup Classic, so many discussions are making rounds in the horse racing industry. One of the topics of these discussions is the question of who are the most outstanding winners of the Breeders’ Cup Classic of all time.

To satisfy the curiosity of all Breeders’ Cup fans, we compiled a list of the top ten greatest Breeders’ Cup winners of all time. The list will also help you identify the possible winner of the race this year. You can compare the current contenders to the following winners below and look for similarities that could contribute to how the current contenders win the race. Without further ado, below are the ten greatest Breeders’ Cup Classic winners in horse racing history.

Zenyatta (2009)

The second spot of the top ten Greatest Breeders’ Cup Classic of all time is a lady. Zenyatta is a well-known Mare who is named the Queen of Racing. She graced the Breeders’ Cup Classic twice, in 2009 and 2010. Zenyatta won the former but only finished second on the latter.

She also dominated the 2008 Breeders’ Cup Distaff, formerly the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic. Zenyatta is undoubtedly the Queen of Racing, winning first place in 19 of her 20 races since her debut. So, if there’s a racehorse worthy of the number one spot as the Greatest Breeders’ Cup Classic winner, it’s Zenyatta.

Ferdinand (1987)

Ferdinand was the Breeders’ Cup Classic winner in the 1987 race. He was trained by Charles Whittingham, one of the most commended trainers in the history of US horse racing. Ferdinand only has a few races on his record, but you will notice that his team is careful not to finish below the number three spot.

The 1987 Breeders’ Cup race was a great race as the excitement of the race hyped the crowd. Aside from Ferdinand, the 1987 Breeders Cup classic entries also consist of two of the best thoroughbreds in the history of US racing: Alysheba and Skywalker.

Cigar (1996)

Cigar not only streaked into history but also to the hearts of many horse racing fans. He is considered one of the superstars in the racing industry, which earned him his nickname “America’s Horse.”

The thoroughbred showed great passion on the racetrack, bringing the racing fans to the edge of their seats when he made perfection seem effortless as he raced through his winning streaks from 1995 to 1996.

Tiznow (2000 & 2001)

In the 2001 Breeders’ Cup, Tiznow became the favorite and ended the race without disappointing his fans. He indeed lived up to the public’s expectations by winning the 2001 Classic race and being one of the most outstanding winners of the said racing event.

Tiznow beats the horse-racing giants of his time: Lemon Drop Kid, Causeway, and Fusaichi Pegasus. It’s also worth mentioning that Tiznow won the Breeders’ Cup Classic two years in a row.

Alysheba (1988)

Alysheba’s racing career was one-of-a-kind. He started his career on the wrong foot where he didn’t win his first two races. As a result, he became an underdog when he entered the 1987 Kentucky Derby. But Alysheba proved to the spectators that there’s no guarantee in horse racing. Favorites can still be beaten, and underdogs can still win.

Alysheba ran many races after the Kentucky Derby, leading him to compete in the Classic, where he qualified twice. The first time was in 1987 when he only finished second. He competed in the 1988 Breeders’ Cup race again, and this time he won.

Sunday Silence (1989)

If you look at Sunday Silence’s record during his active racing years, you can say he is doing pretty fantastic. He is even considered as one of trainer Charles Whittingham’s finest racehorses. The rivalry of Sunday Silence and Easy Goer made the 1989 Breeders’ Cup Classic race one of the most unforgettable rivalries in history.

Mucho Macho Man (2013)

Mucho Macho Man made it among the top ten greatest winners of the Breeders’ Cup Classic because he made the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Classic race one of the most thrilling in history. Mucho Macho Man entered the race as the favorite.

However, other contenders, Will Take Charge and Declaration Of War, weren’t going down without a fight. That’s why they pushed their power till the end, but Mucho Macho Man lived up to his title as the favorite and also put on a good fight. As a result, the final yards of the race became one of the most thrilling finishes in Breeders’ Cup Classic history.

Awesome Again (1998)

Trained by Patrick Byrne, Awesome Again won 9 out of the 12 races he participated in, including the 1998 Breeders’ Cup Classic. He is a well-balanced thoroughbred with a well-laid and robust shoulder, which made him a fantastic racehorse of his time.

Unfortunately, despite how he worked hard to win the Classic, there are still speculations that Awesome Again doesn’t deserve the title. But no matter what others might say about his victory, he is a deserving Classic winner with the hard work he puts up. One proof of that is the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic prep race named after him: the Awesome Again Stakes.

Unbridled (1990)

Unbridled broke the 1990 Breeders’ Cup Classic race from far beyond the 14 posts in the racetrack. At the beginning of the race, Unbridled was stuck wide and far behind, making it hard for him to keep up and reach the front.

But his jockey Pat Day never let their situation decide their fate. Unbridled galloped and jumped off the rail with a positive attitude and fought until they managed to split their rivals. With the guidance of his jockey, Unbridled dashed to the front of the race and reached the finish line first.

Ghostzapper (2004)

The number ten spot of the greatest Classic winner goes to Ghostzapper, who won the 2004 Breeders’ Cup Classic. During his racing career, Ghostzapper achieved a six-winning streak, including the Classic race.

He outran his 2004 Classic second-place winner, Roses in May, by three lengths with a record time of 1:59:02. His Classic victory has earned Ghostzapper his 2004 Eclipse Award for Horse of the Year.


All winners of the Breeders’ Cup are amazing. They won’t win the race in the first place if they’re not. However, the ten mentioned above are the ones who surpassed the rest and showed fantastic skills and performance in their Breeders’ Cup Classic race and all the other races they participated in. Will the winner of the 2023 Breeders’ Cup Classic be one of these greatest winners? Let’s find out on November 4.

Author: Gus Barge

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