Top 10 All-Time Champions of Saratoga

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Saratoga Race Course opened for racing on August 3, 1863, and has been the home of many of racing’s great stakes, upsets, and champions. This slide show will present my list of the Top 10 champions to run at the Spa.

Many of the horses that made this list were eastern-based runners that tended to more frequently visit Saratoga. There were many great horses from the west that just did not make the trip east. As I did research for this list I was struck with the names of great champions that I would have expected to have run at Saratoga: Citation, Assault, Count Fleet, Bold Ruler, Spectacular Bid, and AP Indy.

Then there was a group of horses that did run at Saratoga, but surprised me with their results. Triple Crown winner Omaha lost all four for of his starts as a juvenile. Forego, who has a stake named after him at the Spa, ran only twice and lost both of them. Cigar’s 16 race win streak included no races at Saratoga and his only start was a turf loss when Bill Mott had just taken over his training. Curlin ran only once, winning the 2008 Woodward. Funny Cide, who was owned by the Sackatoga Stable based in the Saratoga area, ran only twice and lost both of them. Seattle Slew ran in only one allowance race.

If the list were not restricted to champions, everyone’s favorite Fourstardave would be near the top of the list. In his 99 start career he won at least one race at the Spa every year from 1987 to 1994, including a turf course record.


-- Matt Shifman, NY State of Racing 


See the complete Top 10 List HERE!


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Older Comments about Top 10 All-Time Champions of Saratoga...

In '73 it wasn't children saying Secretariat was the best ever. It was adults. His list of accomplishments speaks for itself. I'm not even going to begin to list them all. The times he ran and the margins he won by and the championships he won are facts not opinions.
  • Show All 3 Comments
  • LorraineLloyd · And I can say the same thing about Man O' War. Although Man O' War was hardly ever ridden out. · 2314 days ago
  • cocoa2 · Have you really been gone this long, larooski? I do miss your comments, hope you're still reading · 2034 days ago
Tv I forgot what happened to Linda's Chief. Thanks for reminding me
Shadowno. Good one. I think you're right. Definitely from NJ
Lorraine, this seems like it is based on a single race, not necessarily a career. But then again who ran the better race at Saratoga, Secretariat when he dominated the top two year old at that time in Linda’s Chief, winning the Sanford, the only career race where he was not the favorite, by three; or Man o’ War at two when he won three stakes in the month of August and lost another to Upset when he was turned the wrong way at the starting line. In each of those races he was assigned 130 lbs., ridiculous for a two year old by today’s standards and in Secretariat’s time too. To me any one of MOW’s wins that month overshadowed Secretariat’s win. It’s kind of like asking if Frankel’s Queen Anne against basically one horse (who I believe is zero for four against him) and getting a 147 Time Form Rating is better than Seabird’s Arc against one of the strongest Arc fields ever, a race that he totally dominated and yet only receive d a 145 TFR.
Buckpasser, I dont think the author is one of ours. Maybe he is from New Jersey?
We are talking about horses that ran at Saratoga, correct? Then Man O' War's record is WAY better than Secretariat, I mean, it's a no brainer. See my comments!! I'm sure other great horses actually won their races at 3 at Saratoga. Didn't Secretariat lose the Whitney? And, I'm glad Ruffian and Go For Wand are getting mentioned. When I mentioned Kelso compared to Secretariat, someone mentioned the age difference, so I was going by horses that were 3. Then there was Ruffian.
Secretariat # 1 then, number 1 now.. maybe forever.............
Just crazy that I would ever expect this list to be unbiased and true. If the majority of race fans had not seen Secretariat as a child he would be no where as close to as famous as he is now. Count Fleet'd be ranked better and Slew would never be higher than Dr. Fager. Sadly my generation will think Zenyatta the greatest of them all, and it won't be Man O' War vs Secretariat, it will be Zen vs. RA.
  • LorraineLloyd · I believe Count Fleet should be rated up in the top 3 or 4. I agree this list is very open to conflict and opinions! · 2314 days ago
  • LorraineLloyd · I feel that if Johnny Longden let Count Fleet "run" he would have run faster and maybe won by more, he is truly top 3 or 4 as I stated. · 2314 days ago
Roy, I totally agree with your points about both Kelso and Commentator. However, Kelso’s first Whitney win in 1961 was at Belmont (by DQ). He won his last two Whitney’s at Saratoga as well as two allowance races on turf making him undefeated in 4 starts. Commentator was well past his prime when he lost the 2009 Whitney to Bullsbay, but his other two Whitneys were spectacular with 120 and 123 Beyers.
Roy. Couldn't agree more. No Kelso no list. I like that.
First off, no Kelso makes no list. He won the Whitney three times at 130. Second, no love for Commentator and the Beyers he put up?
Linda’s Chief humbled Ancient Title three times in a row before losing the SA Derby when running 2nd to Sham as the 3 to 5 favorite. He then won that GG race, The Californian, by less than a length after leading by 8L at one time. For his next race he returned east to Belmont and won the Withers by three lengths defeating Stop The Music with Forego third. He won 15 of 24 races ( 10 stakes) through his three year old year but went zero for 8 at four before that injury that cost him his life at Hollywood.
poor old Linda's Chief. Saw Baeza do everything he could to just last in the Cal Derby at GGF and then, after being sold for about 2 mill, this one broke its back in the gate at Hollywood. Unlucky horse.
onnaconna, the only horse to challenge Man O' War, John P. Grier, King Albert the foreign invader
Linda's Chief, wow that horse was good, we heard a lot about that one. MAN O WAR FRICKING DESTROYED Upset (who beat stakes winners), the good filly Cleopatra, Golden Broom and D
I love Secretariat, but his fans are rude, sarcastic, and have their heads in the sand. I agree with the comment below, first, Man O' War carried 130 pounds as a 2 year old as CharleneWerden said. It is reported that he ran the fastest time of the meet, he ran under restraint, and set an unofficial record. As a 3 year old he won both races at Saratoga. One he carried 131 pounds and the other he set an American record. HOW DOES SECRETARIAT GET #1 WHEN HE LOST HIS ONLY START AT AGE 3 AT SARATOGA, the Whitney. How can anyone dispute this in their right mind? Plus, my comment is twice because my computer is SLOW LOL!!! Unbelievable are Secretariat fans. It's ashame because I think the horse would have more fans if his existing fans were not so blankety blank and didn't feel threatened by the mighty Man O' War.
I have to say, this is an interesting list.
NOTHING SPECTACULAR? he easily beat the then number one ranking two year old in training Linda's Chief. as a two year old he had only TWO speed rating lower than 90, one in his abortive initial maiden race and his troubled Garden State Stakes handily with no pressure. LEARN the game before you expose yourself as ignorant. a
  • CharleneWerden · ignorant is strong, but you missed the entire point. Sorry but I did look at the racing chart of Secretariat before I commented. Also, spectacular or not, look at the facts I pointed out or do you want to ignore them? And, you started saying "expose yourself as ignorant, a" a what? I didn't see you finish. Thanks for your comment. · 2315 days ago
  • CharleneWerden · If you work in racing travel_vic you should know the facts better. I know there is a Vic the race called but I would think he would be more professional. · 2315 days ago
I was going to let this go, that Secretariat is #1 and Man O' War is #2 at Saratoga, but let's look at the facts. Secretariat raced a few times there as a 2 year old, nothing spectacular, at 3 he lost the Whitney. Now, Man O' War at Saratoga carried 130 pounds as a 2 year old and as a three year old won his 2 starts and carried over 130 in one of them. SO, tell me NOW who was the better horse at Saratoga??? Just had to instigate a debate, author.
Fort Marcy was another not mentioned

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