2000s | Horse Racing Timeline
April 24, 2000, the Keeneland Foundation would be officially restructured as a non-profit organization. The new (501)c 3 status now allows Keeneland to accept contributions and give donors tax breaks.
July 4, 2000, Hall of Fame jockey Russell Baze scored his 7,000 career victory aboard This Is the Moment at the Alameda County Fair in Pleasanton, CA. Baze became the sixth jockey to join the 7,000-win club.
July 8, 2000, General Express set a world record when he went five furlongs on the turf in :54.60 in the Decathlon Stakes at Monmouth Park in Oceanport, N.J. General Express eclipsed the mark of :54.97 set by Klassy Briefcase in a Monmouth allowance race on June 8, 1991.
September 8, 2000, Churchill Downs Incorporated completed a merger with Chicago’s Arlington International Racecourse (now Arlington Park), which involved an exchange of stock with Arlington owner Richard Duchossois.
November 4, 2000, the first Breeders’ Cup of the 21st Century started off with two huge upsets. Spain won the Distaff at odds of 56-1, which was followed by Caressing, winning the Juvenile Fillies at 47-1. Defending champion Cat Thief returned for the Classic.
January 12, 2001, Affirmed passed away. His great duels with Alydar in the Triple Crown series may be the best Triple Crown races of all-time. Affirmed was trained by Lazaro S. Barrera and was owned and breed by Lou and Patrice Wolfson’s Harbor View Farm.
October 27, 2001, Belmont Park hosted the Breeders’ Cup Championship, and it was unlike any other in the series’ history. The nation was still reeling from the despicable destruction of the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers, a horrific tragedy that could be seen from Belmont Park’s roof. There was a mix of tension, fear, anger, and courage in New York as the city came together to rebuild, move forward, and never forget.
August 24, 2002, The Travers Stakes at Saratoga, also known as the Mid-Summer Derby, run at 1 1/4M with a $1 million purse, held its 133rd running. A field of nine three-year-olds, including Jim Dandy winner Medaglia d’Oro and early Kentucky Derby favorite Repent, went to the starting gate.
October 26, 2002, for the first time, the Breeders’ Cup came to Chicago and picturesque Arlington Park. The four-year-old filly Azeri began the day by dominating the Distaff with a five-length victory. Foreign bred horses Domedriver (Mile), Starine (Filly & Mare Turf) and High Chaparral (Turf) all scored wins. The day closed with the biggest shock of the Breeders’ Cup. The lightly regarded four-year-old Volponi went into the gate at nearly 44-1 but came home a winner by the largest margin in Classic history, a widening 6 ½ lengths under jockey Jose Santos. Phil Johnson, at 77, became the oldest trainer to win a Breeders’ Cup race. Distaff winner Azeri was later named Horse of the Year.
August 24, 2003, races become memorable because of the caliber of the performances turned in by exceptional horses, and the 2003 Pacific Classic (G1) certainly qualifies on that score. Argentine import Candy Ride’s track-record victory over Medaglia d’Oro, advancing his career record to a perfect six-for-six, is one to savor in itself.
October 25, 2003, Richard Mandella would experience the greatest success of his racing life. Julie Krone became the first female rider to win a Breeders’ Cup race aboard the Mandella-trained Halfbridled in the Juvenile Fillies. Action This Day garnered the Juvenile for Mandella’s second win. Mandella’s third win of the day was another Breeders’ Cup first. After 1 ½M in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Mandella’s Johar and defending champion High Chaparral hit the wire together. It took 12 minutes for the stewards to declare the race a dead heat, the first tie in Breeders’ Cup history. As if destined, Mandella’s 14-1 shot, Pleasantly Perfect, won the Classic by 1 ½ lengths. Mandella broke D. Wayne Lukas’s record of three Breeders’ Cup wins set in 1988 with his fourth triumph of the day.
February 4, 2004, Michael Francis Rowland, 41, was in the stirrups on World Trade, a five-year-old bay, in the 7th race at Turfway Park. Rowland was leading when his mount’s foreleg broke. This would have been Michael’s 3,999th win, one away from a major milestone for professional jockeys. He was in a coma until his death on February 9. His death raised concerns over jockey safety, which gathered steam and moved to the national forefront by year’s end. Turfway Park established the Michael F. Rowland Fund, as well as the Michael F. Rowland Award, to honor the jockey who best exemplifies Rowland’s work ethic, professionalism, and perseverance.
March 12, 2004, Rafael Bejarano won seven races on a single race card at Turfway Park and not all were favorites. The next day he came back and won five races. Rafael ended the meet with a track-record 196 wins. Also in 2004, Bejarano won the most races of any jockey with 455 wins.
October 30, 2004, the Breeders’ Cup came to Texas for the first time at Lone Star Park in suburban Dallas. The trainer and jockey combination of Todd Pletcher and John Velazquez won two races. The four-year-old Ghostzapper capped off the day with a brilliant performance in the Classic, winning it wire-to-wire for jockey Javier Castellano and trainer Bobby Frankel. The victory earned Ghostzapper the Horse of the Year crown.
October 29, 2005, the 22nd Breeders’ Cup was held at Belmont Park for the fourth time. Jockey Garrett Gomez won his first two career Breeders’ Cup races, in the Juvenile and the Mile. Intercontinental defeated defending champion Ouija Board in the Filly & Mare Turf. Shirocco became the first German horse to win a Breeders’ Cup race, winning the Turf. The Classic was all Saint Liam and Jerry Bailey. They took control of the race in the stretch and cruised to victory by a length. Saint Liam was later named Horse of the Year. It was Bailey’s 15th and final Breeders’ Cup win, retiring the following year as the all-time leader in Breeders’ Cup victories.
November 6, 2005, Ellis Park was in the middle of an F3 Tornado cutting a 41-mile swath. Only three of the horses stabled at the park died that day, but several were severely injured. The terrace grandstand crumbled to the ground and nine of the 39 barns collapsed. Debris from the track was swept away with the wind along the tornado’s path. The clubhouse and the main grandstand sustained little damage. A farmer discovered several racehorses, wandering in the Ohio River bottoms, days after the storm.
November 4, 2006, total purses leaped from $14 million to $20 million for the 23rd Breeders’ Cup. After a six-year hiatus, the event returned to Kentucky and the 2-year-old Street Sense showed he loved Churchill Downs, winning the Juvenile by a widening ten lengths under jockey Calvin Borel. In the Classic, the Argentine-bred Invasor passed Preakness winner Bernardini in the stretch to win by one length under Fernando Jara. At 18, Jara became the youngest jockey ever to win a Breeders’ Cup race. Invasor was later named Horse of the Year. In May of 2007, Street Sense became the first Breeders’ Cup Juvenile champion to win the Kentucky Derby.
December 1, 2006, Russell Baze winning the fourth race at Bay Meadows set the world’s record for most career victories, passing jockey Laffit Pincay Jr., by winning career race 9,531 aboard Butterfly Belle. He is the first jockey to win 10,000 races and in 2013 he won his 12,000th race. Since the inauguration of the Isaac Murphy Award in 1995, presented annually by the National Turf Writers Association to the jockey with the highest winning percentage in North America, Baze has won it 13 of 14 years, coming in second in 2004.
May 5, 2007, HM Queen Elizabeth II was in Louisville to watch Street Sense win the Run for the Roses. It was the fifth visit to Kentucky and first to the Kentucky Derby. The Queen was accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh and close friend, horse breeder, William Farish, a former US ambassador to the UK, whose farm she stays on. Churchill Downs President Steve Sexton said: “Queen Elizabeth is certainly the most prestigious guest we’ve entertained in the modern-day history of the Kentucky Derby.”
On October 26 & 27, 2007, a new era began as the Breeders’ Cup World Championships expanded to a two-day event. For the first time, Monmouth Park hosted the event on the shores of New Jersey. Breeders’ Cup added three new races: the Juvenile Turf, the Dirt Mile and the Filly & Mare Sprint.
November 23, 2007, Chad Brown won his first start as a trainer with his own string. His first stable started with only ten horses, five provided by Ken and Sarah Ramsey and the other five by Gary and Mary West. He won with his second starter, but the horse was claimed, reducing the stable to nine. He then went to Oaklawn Park for the winter meet, before moving to Keeneland where he scored his second win.
July 26, 2008, Commentator scored a dominant, front-running victory in the $750,000 Whitney Handicap at Saratoga Race Course. Sent to the lead heading into the first turn, Commentator, ridden by John Velazquez, set a moderate pace and was never threatened while running 1 1/8M in 1:50.23. The 7-year-old gelding widened the advantage to 4¾ lengths over Student Council at the wire in front of 27,297. “This is a good illustration to anyone — don’t ever give up,” said Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito, who also won the race with Commentator in 2005. Commentator joined five-time Horse of the Year Kelso and Discovery, both three-time winners, as the only repeat winners of the Whitney.
October 24 & 25, 2008, changes continued for the Breeders’ Cup as it celebrated its 25th year under the San Gabriel Mountains in California. For the first time, the main track was a synthetic surface. The series, now worth $25.5 million in purses, was also expanded to 14 races with the addition of the Turf Sprint, the Juvenile Fillies Turf and the Marathon. The name of the Distaff changed to the Ladies’ Classic. The new name was christened with a new star, the four-year-old filly Zenyatta, who came from last to first to win under jockey Mike Smith. The next day, another female force emerged when the three-year-old Goldikova defeated male rivals in the Mile.
March 14, 2009, Rachel Alexandra, wins her first graded stakes of the year, Fairgrounds Oaks (GII) in the slop, effortlessly.
April 5, 2009, Rachel Alexandra with Calvin Borel up wins the Oaklawn Park’s GII $250,00 Fantasy Stakes by eight lengths.
May 1, 2009, Rachel Alexandra won the Kentucky Oaks (GI) in 2009 by 201⁄4-lengths, by far the largest in the race’s history.
May 16, 2009, Rachel Alexandra became the first filly to win the Preakness in 85 years and the first to win from the outside position.
June 27, 2009, Rachel Alexandra, won her third Grade I of the year, the Mother Goose. She set the record for fastest time and margin of victory, topping the legend Ruffian’s record.
August 2, 2009, Rachel Alexandra takes on the boys again in the Haskell (GI) winning in the slop by six, just missing the track record.
September 5, 2009, Rachel Alexandra ends her three-year-old season, 8 for 8, undefeated, by winning the Woodford (I). For the first time all year a few of the boys came close, but she put them away to be the first female of any age to win the historic Woodford Stakes.
November 7, 2009, Zenyatta became the first female to win the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Classic run at Santa Anita Park. She carried 124 lbs and won by 1 length over Gio Ponti. She earned $2,700,000 of the $5,000,000 purse. Later she became the first horse to win two different Breeders’ Cup races, improving her winning record to 14 of 14. Zenyatte won 19 consecutive races in a 20-race career.
November 5 & 6, 2010, Breeders’ Cup was known as The Quest for Perfection. The undefeated Zenyatta was attempting to close out her brilliant career a perfect 20 for 20 with a second victory in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. This would also be the first Breeders’ Cup to finish under the lights. Breeders’ Cup Friday was jolted by Shared Account, at 46-1, denying Midday a repeat in the Filly and Mare Turf.
November 17, 2010, Zenyatta announced her retirement, a little over a month after winning the Hollywood’s Lady’s Secret Stakes (G1). This was the third time she won the race and with this victory, she broke the all-time North American record for Grade/Group I victories by a filly/mare. She also tied the all-time North American record for consecutive victories without defeat, and broke the all-time North American female earnings record.
November 4, 2011, through March 14, 2013, Bob Baffert had a total of seven horses die suddenly.
November 4, 2011, Case #1 died suddenly while galloping at Hollywood Park. There was nothing unusual about the case. CAHFS necropsy lab was notified per protocol, the carcass transported to San Bernardino and the necropsy proceeded routinely. It was the last Baffert sudden death handled in a routine manner.
November 26, 2011, Case #2 died after finishing second in a race at Hollywood Park. Then CHRB official veterinarian contacted the CAHFS and specifically noted on the necropsy submission form that this was the second case for the same owner and trainer.
March 14, 2013, case #7, shortly after case #7 died suddenly at Hollywood Park, the equine medical director advised executive director Kirk Breed that even though the ongoing medical review had not revealed nor suggested any improper activity, the CHRB should conduct an official investigation. The executive director ordered chief investigator Bill Westerman to precede with an investigation into the Baffert sudden deaths.
November 2, 2013, Mucho Macho Man wins the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic by a nose for jockey Gary Stevens, trainer Kathy Ritvo and owners Reeves Thoroughbred Racing.
November 2, 2013, Wise Dan wins the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Mile for the second straight year.
May 20, 2017, California Chrome wins the 142nd Preakness Stakes. Since Affirmed in 1978, 12 horses have won the first two legs and failed to complete the sweep in the 1½-mile Belmont; the last was I’ll Have Another, who was scratched on the eve of the Belmont two years ago.
June 14, 2014, Tonalist wins the 146th Belmont Stakes by a head over Commissioner. Christopher Clement conditioned the Kentucky bred by Tapit for the $1.5 million purse. Total mutuel pool was $33,772,596.
January 17, 2015, the 44th annual Eclipse Awards at Gulfstream Park was a celebration of the biggest stars in U.S. racing with Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Bayern, Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner California Chrome and Breeders’ Cup Turf victor Main Sequence finalists for the Horse of the Year. The night belonged to California Chrome, who became the second California-bred to win Horse of the Year, he also captured the Eclipse Award as champion three-year-old male.
May 7, 2016, Nyquist, jockeyed by Mario Gutierrez and trained by Doug O’Neill, took the victory over Exaggerator and Gun Runner to win the 142nd Kentucky Derby. The race carried a guaranteed minimum gross pay of $2 million for the entrants. With an entry fee of $25,000 and a starting fee of $25,000. Nyquist receive $1.24 million.
May 21, 2016, Exaggerator finally got his win over Nyquist in his fifth try. The colt won the 2016 Preakness by 3 1/2 lengths, downing the unbeaten Nyquist, who had defeated him in four previous races in which both ran. Nyquist finished third behind Cherry Wine, who went off at 17-to-1.
June 11, 2016, WinStar Farm and Bobby Flay’s Creator nosed out Destin to win the 148th running of the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes, covering the 12 furlongs in 2:28.51 over Belmont Park’s fast main track. Just after the son of Tapit crossed the wire, rains began to fall over the Belmont oval, drenching the connections in the winner’s circle and leaving a rainbow over the emotional scene. It was the first Belmont Stakes victory for jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. and for trainer Steve Asmussen.
November 5, 2016, Breeders’ Cup World Championships ended on Saturday with nine races all with year-end championship implications. 72,811 fans packed Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California, a new record for Saturday since the event expanded to two days. Dubai World Cup (G1) winner California Chrome was sent off as the 9-10 favorite in the field of nine over 8-5 Arrogate and 8-1 Frosted.
May 6, 2017, Always Dreaming is wins the 143rd Kentucky Derby. He held off a late charge from Lookin At Lee, Battle of Midway and Classic Empire. He is also the first horse since 1933 to win the Kentucky Derby after not winning his first race until on or after Jan. 25. It is the fifth consecutive year the favorite has won. Trainer Todd Pletcher has now won the race twice in his career with his last win coming in 2010 with Super Saver.
May 20, 2017, Cloud Computing, with 13-1 odds wins the 142nd Preakness Stakes, he paid $28.80. Classic Empire finished second, and Senior Investment third. The Kentucky Derby winner, Always Dreaming, came in eighth of the 10-horse field. Cloud Computing had just three races to his name entering the stakes race.
June 10, 2017, Tapwrit won the 149th running of the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, defeating favorite Irish War Cry in the race’s final stretch in Belmont Park, New York. The victory gave trainer Todd Pletcher his third Belmont Stakes win.
Friday, November 3, 2017, the highlight of Friday’s card is the $2 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) for older fillies and mares going 1 1/8M on the main track. Beldame (G1) and Alabama (G1) winner Elate was the 2-1 favorite in the field of 8 over 3-1 Stellar Wind, winner of the Clement Hirsch (G1), and 7-2 Forever Unbridled, winner of the Personal Ensign (G1). 23-1 Champagne Room set the pace.
June 9, 2018, Justify joined Seattle Slew (1977) as the only undefeated Triple Crown champions and the 13th horse overall to complete the historic sweep when he rolled gate-to-wire to capture the Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets by a length and three-quarters against late-running Gronkowski.
November 2, 2018, the magnificent four-year-old filly Enable became the first horse to sweep the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf in the same year when she made a dramatic charge down the middle of the Churchill Downs course and outdueled Magical, a three-year-old filly, by three-quarters of a length to win the Breeders’ Cup Turf.
March 31, 2019, 5-year-old gelding Arms Runner fell during a race and had to be euthanized after sustaining a catastrophic injury to his right front leg. It was the 23rd horse death at Santa Anita since December 26.
May 4, 2019, Derby fans weathered a steady late-afternoon rain and a disqualification of Maximum Security, as Country House captured the 145th Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve over a sloppy track. Wagering from all-sources was the highest all-time on both the Kentucky Derby Day program and on the Kentucky Derby race. Country House paid $132.40 for a $2.00 bet.
May 18, 2019, War of Will, ridden by jockey Tyler Gaffalione and trained by Mark Casse wins the 144th Preakness Stakes. The race started with a bit of chaos when jockey John Velazquez fell off Bodexpress as the horses ran out of the gate. Bodexpress proceeded to run the race without a jockey.
June 8, 2019, Sir Winston wins the 151st running of the Belmont Stakes and the 108th time the event took place at Belmont Park. For the second time in its history, the 2019 Belmont Stakes offered separate pool wagering in Japan. The total for this non-commingled pool, which is not included in the all-sources number, was $4,362,972. Paid attendance on Belmont Stakes Day was 56,217.
July 18, 2019, a freak accident occurred on the second day of racing at Delmar. Charge A Bunch, trained by Carla Gaines, threw his rider and ran head first into Carson Valley, trained by Baffert. Both horses died instantly from broken necks.
July 29, 2019, a third thoroughbred race horse died during training at the Del Mar summer, which opened two weeks prior. Bowl Of Soul, a three-year-old filly trained by Bob Baffert, injured her right hind fetlock, which is similar to an ankle.
November 1-2, 2019, the 36th Breeders’ Cup took place at Santa Anita Park. One of the highlights was Bricks and Mortar, attempting a mile and a half for the first time in the $4 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf. He passed the stiff test with a courageous head victory against longshot United to cap a 6-for-6 campaign and stamp himself as the leading candidate for Horse of the Year. “The horse showed up, and he showed up in every race he’s run his whole career,” said trainer Chad Brown.
June 20, 2020, the 152nd Belmont Stakes is run first in the Triple Crown Series, due to COVID-19. The winner, Tiz the Law was the first New York-bred to win since Forester in 1882. There were no fans present to witness the historical New York win.
September 5, 2020, Authentic wins the 146th Kentucky Derby without fans in the stands. Churchill Downs used a new 20-stall starting gate for the 2020 Derby, replacing the previous arrangement that used a standard 14-stall gate and an auxiliary gate. The old setup contributed to congestion at the start of the race, especially in the gap between the two gates.
October 3, 2020, Skydiver wins the 145th Preakness Stakes to become the sixth filly to win the race. She was the first filly to run in the Preakness since Ria Antonia in 2014, who finished last. Hall of Famer Rachel Alexandra was the last filly to win the race back in 2009. There were no fans in the stands due to Covid-19. Swiss Skydiver is trained by Kenny McPeek, ridden by Robby Albarado and owned by Peter Callahan. She set off with 11-1 odds and paid $25.40 to win, $8.40 to place and $5.80 to show. She previously won the G1 Alabama and was a surprising second in the Kentucky Oaks.