By Alan Carasso
Six weeks and four days after the dreadful terrorist attacks that took place just miles to the west in Lower Manhattan, the 2001 Breeders’ Cup went ahead as planned, even as armed marksmen lined the rooftop at Belmont Park. That year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic featured a riveting final-furlong battle between Tiznow (Cee’s Tizzy) and Sakhee (Bahri) to go down as one of the most dramatic in the history of the event. For reasons beyond what happened on the racetrack.
In this corner, the hulking Tiznow, who just 12 months prior defeated the ‘Iron Horse’ Giant’s Causeway after going toe-to-toe with the Ballydoyle representative for the better part of the final two furlongs at Churchill Downs. In the opposite corner, Sakhee, who parlayed a seven-length romp in the G1 Juddmonte International S. into an equally overpowering victory in the G1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. As has been well-documented, no Arc winner has doubled up in the Turf in the same year, but Sakhee’s task at hand was ostensibly that much more difficult given that he would be trying the dirt for the first time in his career.
It had been an up-and-down season for Tiznow, so much so that he was nearly a 7-1 gamble, but the Horse of the Year nevertheless was allowed to take his chance and sat in the breeze as Sakhee and Frankie Dettori drafted behind while racing in the company of one Galileo (Ire). Sakhee, dwarfed physically by Tiznow, traveled beautifully into the race and got first run on the American galloper, carrying the lead into the final eighth of a mile. But with Tiznow apparently taking one stride for every two of Sakhee’s, he plugged on doggedly from between rivals to “win it for America,” in a race that evokes chills to this day (video).
WATCH: Tiznow beats Sakhee to ‘win it for America’