Horses that have won the Kentucky Derby and Breeders' Cup Classic

By Evan Chronis | May 22, 2019

While it's not a jewel of the storied Triple Crown™, the Breeders' Cup Classic holds its place in history as the final leg of the Grand Slam of Thoroughbred racing.  Horses from around the world converge annually at the Breeders’ Cup, hoping to prove that they're the best of the best. Usually, one of those horses is the winner of the Kentucky Derby®, aiming to top off its three-year-old season with a win in the Breeders' Cup Classic. 

After a victory in the 2019 Kentucky Derby, many are asking if Country House will run in the Breeders' Cup Classic and if the underdog Derby winner has a chance to win at Santa Anita Park. 

While it’s a rare feat, there is a history of horses who have claimed victory in the first and final leg of the Grand Slam. Here are the five horses who have triumphed in both races:

Breeders' Cup 2019

American Pharoah

2015 Kentucky Derby Winner

American Pharoah's journey towards breaking the 37-year Triple Crown drought started at the 2015 Kentucky Derby. In front of a crowd of 170,000 onlookers at Churchill Downs, American Pharoah won with a time of 2:03.02.

2015 Breeders' Cup Classic Winner

After becoming the first Triple Crown winner in almost four decades, American Pharoah still had history to make. The Bob Baffert-trained horse took to the track at the Keeneland Racecourse in Lexington and became the first horse to ever win the Grand Slam of Thoroughbred racing. 



1990 Kentucky Derby Winner

With jockey Craig Perret taking the reins, Unbridled won the 1990 Kentucky Derby by a whopping 3 1/2 lengths. The three-year-old's Triple Crown dreams were squashed after finishing a heartbreaking second in the Preakness Stakes just weeks later. 

1990 Breeders' Cup Winner

While no treble was in play for Unbridled's Derby-winning year, he went on to Belmont Park, hosting its first ever Breeders' Cup, and won the Classic to top off an impressive calendar year for the steed. 


Sunday Silence

1989 Kentucky Derby Winner

In one of the muddiest Kentucky Derby's in modern history, Sunday Silence ousted heated rival Easy Goer en route to the biggest win of the horse's career. Sunday Silence won the race with a time of 2:05, the slowest Derby time since 1958. 

Following the Derby, Sunday Silence went on to win at the Preakness to set up a Triple Crown bid. However, he fell short of the treble at Belmont Park, losing by eight lengths to Easy Goer. 

1989 Breeders' Cup Classic Winner

In a three-year-old finale between Sunday Silence and Easy Goer at the 1989 Breeders' Cup Classic, the former defeated his longtime rival once and for all by crossing the finish line a neck ahead of the latter. The victory at Gulfstream Park secured Sunday Silence's place as the Eclipse Award winner for Horse of the Year. 



1987 Kentucky Derby Winner

After a collision that almost eliminated Alysheba and jockey Chris McCarron from the 1987 Kentucky Derby, the pair re-calibrated and surged back to take home the 113th "Run for the Roses." After a subsequent victory at the Preakness Stakes, Alysheba had a real chance to become the 12th Triple Crown winner in history.

The bid was never fully realized, though, as Alysheba ran a noncompetitive race at Belmont Park and finished fourth.  

1988 Breeders' Cup Classic Winner

After an unsuccessful Breeders' Cup Classic run in 1987, Alysheba returned to the race in his four-year-old season. In the final race of his career, Alysheba ran to victory at Churchill Downs one last time, winning the 1988 Breeders' Cup Classic. With the conquest at Churchill Downs, Alysheba became the first horse to win three of the four legs of the Grand Slam of Thoroughbred racing. 



1986 Kentucky Derby Winner

Ferdinand won the 1986 Kentucky Derby from Starting Gate position No.1, making him the last horse to win the Derby from that position. The three-year-old remained competitive throughout the rest of the Triple Crown races, finishing second at the Preakness Stakes and third at the Belmont Stakes. 

1987 Breeders' Cup Classic Winner

The 1987 Breeders' Cup Classic was a matchup of the two most recent Kentucky Derby winners — Ferdinand and Alysheba. The two battled throughout the whole race, with Ferdinand edging out his opponent as they went down the stretch, winning the race by a nose. As noted above, Alysheba would finally get his Classic win a year later. 


Get an Official Ticket Package for the 2019 Breeders' Cup Classic

Every year, the best horses in the world compete at the Breeders' Cup. In November, all the world's eyes will point to Santa Anita Park for two days of the best racing in the world. You can be a part of history with an Official Ticket Package from Breeders' Cup Experiences. Click below to see all ticket package options. 

2019 Breeders' Cup Official Ticket Packages