Breeders' Cup Classic Contenders: Then and Now

The Life

Contenders in this year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic have all amassed impressive résumés leading up to this year’s World Championships at Santa Anita Park on November 1; but before they were stars on the racetrack, they were unnamed foals playing in fields.

Thanks to The Jockey Club, the breed registry for American Thoroughbreds that you see running at tracks every day, we’ve tracked down baby pictures of the probable runners in this year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic so you can see how far they’ve come. The signs in some of the images indicate the foal's dam (mother) and year of birth for identification, since the foals were unnamed at the time.

All photos of adult horses courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire unless otherwise indicated. 

Bayern - Then

Now

Bayern did not race until his 3-year-old year and got off to a quick start by winning his first two races. The speedy colt later blazed to victory in the Woody Stephens Stakes and triumphed in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational Stakes and the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby after making an easy lead in both. 

California Chrome - Then


Now

Image courtesy of Penelope P. Miller/America’s Best Racing

California Chrome became a nationally-beloved horse after winning both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes this year. After taking the summer off, the colt finished sixth in the Pennsylvania Derby and will be a fan favorite at the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Candy Boy - Then

Now

Candy Boy hasn’t won since he captured the Robert B. Lewis Stakes in February, but he’s finished in the top three in each of his last three starts. The colt most recently finished third in the Pennsylvania Derby.

Cigar Street - Then

Now

Photo by Coglianese Photo

Cigar Street’s win in the Homecoming Classic Stakes at Churchill Downs convinced his connections to run him in the Classic. The horse has made only eight lifetime starts but hasn’t finished out of the top three since April 2012. Cigar Street is owned by Jake Ballis and NBA veteran Rashard Lewis.

Footbridge - Then

Now

The lightly raced Footbridge broke his maiden in March of his sophomore season. After a disappointing effort in the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes, the colt was returned to allowance ranks where eventually he reeled off two straight wins. Footbridge then headed back to stakes company, with a second-place finish in the San Diego Handicap and a third-place finish behind Shared Belief and Fed Biz in the Awesome Again Stakes to his credit this year.

Imperative - Then

Now

Imperative was claimed for $50,000 in December 2013 and soon repaid his owner’s investment. The gelding finished second in the San Antonio Stakes and won the $1.5-million Charles Town Classic. Imperative most recently finished fifth behind Shared Belief in the Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita.

Majestic Harbor - Then

Now

Majestic Harbor won the Gold Cup at Santa Anita in June to earn his first career Grade 1 win and a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Classic starting gate. The horse has another graded stakes victory to his credit and has shown an affinity for the Santa Anita Park main track, never finishing worse than fourth on the surface. 

Moreno - Then

Now

Moreno broke through with his first Grade 1 win in the Whitney Stakes at Saratoga this summer. The Southern Equine Stable homebred has a slew of graded stakes placings to his credit and does his best running on an unpressured lead. Javier Castellano will ride him for the first time in the Classic.

Prayer For Relief - Then

Now

Image courtesy of Penelope P. Miller/America’s Best Racing

Prayer for Relief hasn’t won since December 2013 but consistently performs in graded stakes company. The veteran of the field with 33 starts, Prayer for Relief finished third in the Suburban Handicap, fourth in the Whitney Stakesand third in the Woodward Stakes in his most recent efforts.

Shared Belief - Then

Now

Shared Belief was named champion 2-year-old male in 2013 off of three victories but did not begin his 3-year-old season until May. He has reeled off four more victories this year, including the Grade 1 Pacific Classic Stakes and Awesome Again Stakes against older horses, to remain undefeated. His ownership group includes television and sports talk radio host Jim Rome.

Toast of New York - Then

Now

Toast of New York has done most of his running in England, where his trainer is based. The colt won a pair of races at Wolverhampton before heading to Dubai to contest the United Arab Emirates Derby. The colt won the race impressively but did not race again until July, running sixth on the turf in the Belmont Derby Invitational Stakes. He finished a good second to Classic favorite Shared Belief in the Pacific Classic Stakes on the synthetic surface at Del Mar, and the Classic will be his first start on dirt.

Tonalist - Then

Now

Tonalist broke his maiden early in his 3-year-old season. He followed with victories in the Peter Pan Stakes and Belmont Stakes before posting top-three finishes in the Jim Dandy and Travers Stakes. Tonalist enters the Classic off a 1 3Ž4-length win in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup. 

V. E. Day - Then

Now

V. E. Day did not race until this year but has made quite an impression in a short amount of time. He capped a four-race winning streak with a thrilling victory by a nose over fellow Jimmy Jerkens trainee Wicked Strong in the Grade 1 Travers Stakes, which was his graded stakes debut for owner Magalen Bryant. 

Zivo - Then

Now

Zivo has finished worse than third just once in his career but only recently ventured into graded stakes company. In his first graded try, he won the Grade 2 Suburban Handicap before a fourth-place finish in the Woodward Stakes and a runner-up effort in the Jockey Club Gold Cup behind fellow Classic contender Tonalist. 

newsletter sign-up

Stay up-to-date with the best from America's Best Racing!