Famous Races

Enjoy this list of the top twenty races at Saratoga Race Course over the past 150 years as selected by Allan Carter, Historian at the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.  Vote for your favorite when you're finished reading about each race.

Races are listed in chronological order.  Hall of Fame Horses are in bold.

Race 1:

August 2, 1864:  Kentucky wins the first Travers Stakes, the first race held on the new Saratoga Race Course. He would later win the first two Saratoga Cups.

Race 2: 

July 16, 1872:  Harry Bassett defeats Longfellow in the 2 ¼ mileSaratoga Cup.  The loser’s shoe flipped at the beginning of the race, and despite running the entire event as a virtual cripple, he lost by only one length while pressing his opponent to set a new world record for the distance.

Race 3:

July 31, 1916:  Stromboli wins the Saratoga Handicap.  Others in the field were champions Friar Rock (second), Short Grass (fourth), The Finn (seventh), and the prohibitive favorite, Regret (eighth and last), the first filly to win the Kentucky Derby, who suffered the first loss of her career in this race.

Race 4:

August 1, 1918:  7-year-old Roamer wins the Saratoga Handicap, setting a new track record by two seconds for 1 ¼ miles.

Race 5:

August 17, 1918:  Sun Briar, the previous year’s champion 2-year-old male, wins the Travers.  Finishing second was Johren, the winner of that year’s Belmont Stakes, and eventual Horse of the Year; third was War Cloud, winner of that year’s first division of the Preakness; and fourth and last was Exterminator, Sun Briar’s stablemate and surprise winner of that year’s Kentucky Derby.

Race 6:

August 13, 1919:  Upset defeats Man o’ War in the Sanford Memorial, the only loss of Man o’ War’ career.

Race 7:

August 16, 1930: 100-1 long shot Jim Dandy defeats that year’s Triple Crown winner Gallant Fox in the Travers.  It was the winner’s only victory in twenty starts that year, and Gallant Fox’s only loss in ten starts, all stakes. 

Race 8: 

August 10, 1935:  Discovery, the winner of three Whitneys and three Brooklyn Handicaps, wins the Merchants’ and Citizens’ Handicap while carrying 139 pounds.

Race 9:

August 16, 1941:  Whirlaway wins the Travers, becoming the only Triple Crown winner to do so.

Race 10:

August 5, 1946:  Pavot, champion 2-year-old male of 1944, wins the Wilson.  Others in the field were Gallorette (second), that year’s champion older mare and Horse of the Year; Polynesian, (fourth), 1947 champion sprinter and later sire of Native Dancer; Stymie (fifth), champion handicap horse of 1945 and multi-stakes winner in 1946; and Lucky Draw (seventh), another multi-stakes winner that year.

Race 11:

August 18, 1962:  Jaipur, that year’s champion 3-year-old male, defeats Ridan in the Travers.  The two raced the entire 1 ¼ miles as a team in one of the most exciting races inSaratogahistory.

Race 12:

August 17, 1963:  Crewman wins the Travers at 20-1.  Also in the race were Chateaugay, winner of that year’s Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes, Preakness winner Candy Spots, and 1962 2-year-old male champion Never Bend.

Race 13:

August 19, 1967:  Damascus, winner of that year’s Preakness and Belmont, wins the Travers by 22 lengths in the slop.

Race 14:

August 3, 1968:  Dr. Fager, that year’s champion handicap horse, grass horse and sprinter and Horse of the Year, wins the Whitney by eight lengths while carrying 132 pounds.

Race 15:

August 4, 1973:  Onion, who had earlier set a track record for 6 ½ furlongs, defeats Triple Crown winner Secretariat in the Whitney.

Race 16:

August 1, 1985:  Lady’s Secret, 1986 Horse of the Year, defeats 1985 champion 3-year-old filly Mom’s Command in the Test.  Lady’s Secret went off at 10-1, and Mom’s Command went off as the 1-2 favorite.

Race 17:

August 22, 1987:  Java Gold wins the Travers, after earlier winning the Whitney.  Included in the field were Cryptoclearance, Polish Navy,  Belmont Stakes winner Bet Twice, Gulch, and Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Alysheba.

Race 18:

August 20, 1994:  Holy Bull outruns his pedigree when he stubbornly held off the onrushing Concern to win the Travers.

Race 19:

September 5, 2009:  Preakness winner Rachel Alexandra becomes the first filly to win the Woodward when she withstands  separate challenges by D’Tara, Bullsbay and Macho Again to prevail by a head.

Race 20:

August 21, 2010:  Blind Luck, that year’s champion 3-year-old filly, wins the Alabama by a neck over Havre de Grace, winner of the 2011 Woodward and Horse of the Year.

What Do You Think Is The Top Race In Saratoga's History?
1864 - Kentucky Wins The First Travers Stakes
1872 - Harry Bassett Defeats Longfellow
1916 - Stromboli Wins The Saratoga Handicap
1918 - Roamer Wins The Saratoga Handicap
1918 - Sun Briar Wins The Travers
1919 - Upset Defeats Man O' War
1930 - Jim Dandy Defeats Gallant Fox In Travers Stakes
1935 - Discovery Wins The Merchants' and Citizens' Handicap
1941 - Whirlaway Wins The Travers
1946 - Pavot Wins The Wilson
1962 - Jaipur Defeats Ridan In The Travers
1963 - Crewman wins the Travers Stakes
1967 - Damascus Wins The Travers Stakes
1968 - Dr. Fager Wins The Whitney
1973 - Onion Defeats Secretariat In The Whitney
1985 - Lady's Secret Defeats Mom's Command In The Test
1987 - Java Gold Wins The Travers
1994 - Holy Bull Wins The Travers
2009 - Rachel Alexandra Becomes The First Filly To Win The Woodward
2010 - Blind Luck Defeats Havre De Grace In The Alabama

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