<
>

Top 10 Breeders' Cup moments

With two days of outstanding racing during the Breeders' Cup World Championships, some story lines can be predicted, while others emerge in the shadow of the wire. Here are 10 highlights from the 2015 edition:

1. Going out on top
Without a doubt, the biggest moment of the 2015 Breeders' Cup was American Pharoah romping home in the Classic and becoming the first horse to win the Triple Crown and the $5 million race. The Classic was first run in 1984, while the most recent Triple Crown winner was Affirmed in 1978.

"I mean, what a horse," owner Ahmed Zayat said. "The kindest, friendliest, happiest, easiest, most brilliant horse I've ever seen in my life. We've been very privileged. We owe American Pharoah everything. This race was only about American Pharoah. We wanted him to go out as a winner. I really did not watch the final eighth. I just closed my eyes. I knew it was done, and I got extremely emotional."

2. Meet the Derby favorite
Historically speaking, the winner of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile becomes the early favorite for the Kentucky Derby, even though only Street Sense in 2006 and 2007 has pulled off the double. This year's winner, Nyquist, has run five times and never tasted defeat.

"The biggest thing about him -- and we saw it today -- is that he will go as fast or as slow as you want to go," owner Paul Reddam said. "He took a lot of abuse among the handicappers for his descending Beyers coming into the race. I thought, 'Well, is it really a criticism that you didn't win by enough?' I think he proved himself."

3. Looking to the future
Songbird kicked off Breeders' Cup Saturday in brilliant fashion when she won the 14 Hands Winery Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies by an easy-as-you-please 5 ¾ lengths. The gifted filly is a perfect 4-for-4 this season and has three grade 1 victories to her credit. Her connections have already been asked if they might consider running her in the Kentucky Derby instead of the Kentucky Oaks in May.

"I think we're a long way off from thinking about that," owner Rick Porter said. "But she's big enough, and she's showed that she's talented enough."

4. and 5. For the girls
Boys lost out to the girls in both the Breeders' Cup Mile and Longines Breeders' Cup Turf. Tepin won for fun in the Mile, while Found stunned Golden Horn in the Turf.

"To be in the same company with Goldikova, Miesque and Royal Heroine, beating the boys in the Mile, I am not sure I have the words," Tepin's trainer Mark Casse said. "Am I dreaming? She just continues to amaze me. I am still in shock, so I'll have to watch the race a few more times."

Found's victory for Coolmore was especially impressive, given that she also ran in the Irish Champion Stakes, Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and British Champion Stakes since mid-September. She finished second in both Ireland and England and had excuses for her ninth-place finish in the Arc.

"It was incredible," trainer Aidan O'Brien said. "I take my hats off to the lads for running her. I thought it was a little bit far-fetched. She was a 3-year-old filly running in two Champion Stakes and an Arc within a month. She's a very special filly."

6. International success
The Breeders' Cup prides itself on attracting entries from around the world, and Mongolian Saturday lived up to that legacy when he upset the Twinspires Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint at odds of 15-1. Even his name harkens to his connections' roots, as he is owned by Ganbaatar Dagvadorj's Mongolian Stable and trained by Enebish Ganbat.

"Five years ago, I switched from Mongolian long distance to Thoroughbred training," Ganbat said. "In Mongolia, we have 25 kilometers, 15 miles. It's sort of different. Mongolian people are horsemen. We know a little bit about what horses feel. This year, I really wanted to participate in the Breeders' Cup."

7. Hometown win
In the final start of her career, 6-year-old Stephanie's Kitten defeated Ireland's Legatissimo to win the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf. A multimillionaire, the multiple grade 1 winner raced as a homebred for Ken and Sarah Ramsey, whose farm is just up the road from Keeneland. Stephanie's Kitten is slated to be sold Sunday at the Fasig-Tipton November sale.

"She's tough, I'll tell you," winning trainer Chad Brown said. "Mr. and Mrs. Ramsey deserve a lot of credit because they had a chance to sell her last year, and they bought her back and raced her as a 6-year-old, which isn't a popular thing to do. They were rewarded. She won here, just 6 miles from where she was born and raised, and I am so happy for them."

8. Just say no
The charmingly named Runhappy brought his connections to tears with his victory in the Twinspires Breeders' Cup Sprint. The horse was trained up to the World Championships by Maria Borell, who was notching the largest win of her career.

"I want to say we won Lasix-free, drug-free," Borell said. "You guys don't need to run on Lasix. I am very anti-drugs just because I think it's better for the integrity of the breed. I want us to have stronger horses that can run 30, 40 times in the future, like they used to be able to, and not be masked by drugs."

9. Drama on Friday
Stopchargingmaria won the Longines Breeders' Cup Distaff after surviving a stewards' inquiry. She was bought privately this time last year by Town and Country from Mike Repole and was the operation's first Breeders' Cup horse.

"We were looking to buy a young filly who had some success on the race track and could go on in her 4-year-old year and put the name Town and Country into racing," owner Kiki Courtelis said. "She was very sound, she was 3 years old, she fit the mold perfectly, and Mike was nice enough to let us have her. It's my first Breeders' Cup race that I've ever had a horse in and just such an exciting experience."

10. Doing right by the horse
Liam's Map could have run in the Breeders' Cup Classic, but his connections opted to run him the day before in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile. The talented runner took the race with ease and showed that it was the right decision.

"I just think he was a big fish in a little pond or a little fish in a big pond," co-owner Teresa Viola said. "I knew he could do the mile. I just felt confident that he would win."