Zenyatta Breeders Cup and the Most Famous Losses in Horse Racing History

Todd KaufmannSenior Writer INovember 7, 2010

Zenyatta Breeders Cup and the Most Famous Losses in Horse Racing History

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    On a November afternoon, one of the more shocking losses in horse racing history went down at the Breeder's Cup.

    Zenyatta, a horse that gained a big following for the pre-race dance moves that would have made Michael Jackson jealous.

    She was a heavy favorite to win; she wasn't supposed to lose, not today. Unfortunately, history has to be made at some point.

    After starting the race dead last, she finally decided to get herself in the race and almost made one of the biggest comebacks in racing history.

    She came down the stretch but came up just short, actually by a nose, of pulling off the win. A horse by the name of "Blame" picked up the upset and very unexpected win.

    There have been some big losses in this sport's history. Here are the 10 most famous horses to lose a race.

10. Citation

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    Citation was a horse that didn't lose very often. In fact, he went two years without one.

    However, the one loss that started his long winning streak was at the Chesapeake Trial Stakes to a horse named "Saggy."

9. Affirmed

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    The most recent winner of the United States Triple Crown, Affirmed, the great great grandson of former triple crown winner, War Admiral. Talk about good bloodlines, right?

    Affirmed, however, had a rival in Alydar. The two would match up 10 times during Affirmed's career.

    The most famous of which took place at the Travers Stakes in Saratoga. Affirmed was ridden by Hall of Fame jockey Laffit Pincay. Entering the far turn, Affirmed cut off Alydar and had the first place finish stripped at the end of the race.

8. Spectacular Bid

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    The Belmont Stakes couldn't have been worse for Spectacular Bid. It started with the horse stepping on a safety pin, an injury that could have cost the horse his life; it continued with a fist fight between jockeys Ronnie Franklin and Angel Cordero Jr.

    That right made Franklin a little jumpy because he pushed Bid right out of the gates far too fast. It cost them as he faded to third Coastal and Golden Act.

7. Seattle Slew

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    In July of 1977, Seattle Slew entered in the Swaps Stakes thanks to a $400,000 purse.

    He normally took the lead early but never could quite get into a groove. He was beaten by a horse, J.O. Tobin, that Seattle Slew had easily beaten before in the Preakness.

6. Seabiscuit

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    A horse so famous they made a movie about him. It's not the first, but it's one about a horse that a lot of people know about.

    It was at the Santa Anita Handicap that Seabiscuit and Rosemont would meet. Thanks to blindness in one eye of jockey Ron Pollard, he didn't see Rosemont until it was too late.

5. Secretariat

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    Secretariat was arguably one of the best horses in the sport's history. He was fast, he was quick and could smoke anyone he came up against.

    However, he raced at the Whitney Stakes at Saratoga, a track that was apparently known as the "graveyard of favorites."

    That held true as he would lose by a length to a horse named "Onion."

4. War Admiral

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    War Admiral's most famous loss came at the hands of Seabiscuit in what was called a "sporting venture" instead of a "financial venture."

    Basically, instead of the horses bringing in six figures, the stakes were only $15,000.

3. Zenyatta

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    Zenyatta had an impressive resume before coming into this race. She had 17 wins in graded stakes wins including wins over four winners of seven different awards. Impressive to say the least.

    In the Breeders Cup, Zenyatta sat in last place for the majority of the race, making some wonder when she was going to make a break for the lead.

    That break came as Zenyatta made a huge comeback and made everyone wonder if the biggest come from behind victory in race history was about to be seen.

    But, it was too little too late as Blame would beat Zenyatta by a nose.

2. Barbaro

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    Barbaro is a story that most of us, at least those that watch the news or follow horse racing, know very well.

    An injury during a race, emergency surgery and a lot of prayers still didn't work as Barbaro was finally put to sleep in 2007.

    While most of the famous losses would be with a horse actually finishing the race, this one was due to a catastrophic injury.

    After breaking too early out of the starting gate, Barbaro was put back in the starting gate and was said to be good to go.

    He broke out at the start and looked good, but a break in his right hind leg forced his trainer to pull him up before the injury became worse.

    Little did they know, it would get worse before it got better.

1. Man O'War

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    The term "upset" was coined thanks to one of the most famous horses of all time, Man O'War, losing to a horse by the name of, wait for it, Upset in the Sanford Memorial Stakes.