Fort Larned: Where Longshot's Breeders' Cup Win Ranks Among 2012 Upsets

Matt Fitzgerald@@MattFitz_geraldCorrespondent IIINovember 5, 2012

ARCADIA, CA - NOVEMBER 03:  Brian Hernandez Jr. reacts after riding Fort Larned to win the Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park on November 3, 2012 in Arcadia, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

Fort Larned's Breeders' Cup win on Sunday evening was a massive long shot, but where does the thoroughbred's victory rank among sports upsets in 2012?

With odds of 9-1, the four-year-old horse projected well behind Game On Dude (7-5 odds, h/t AP) and barely beat out fellow underdog Mucho Macho Man down the final stretch. There were also more renowned trainers in the field, including Bob Baffert, who trained Game On Dude, and William I. Mott, who had multiple horses in the field.

Somehow, Brian Joseph Hernandez Jr. rode his horse to victory, adding to the biggest upsets in the sports world this year.

However, a trio of other shockers beat out this stunning achievement by Fort Larned. Some resulted in disappointments for individuals more than anything else, and one was an even bigger stunner in high-profile horse racing.

Here is a look at the only three upsets that bested Sunday's magical run by Fort Larned at Santa Anita.


Lehigh shocks Duke in NCAA Tournament, 75-70

We're bound to see bizarre results in March Madness. There was even another No. 15 seed that beat a No. 2 seed. But this one stood out the most due to the storied history of the Blue Devil program and a Herculean effort by one player.

Duke had lost two of its past three games in the ACC leading up to its opening round game.

Meanwhile, Lehigh had ridden an eight-game winning streak to win the Patriot League conference tournament and automatically qualify.

With no one else taking more than seven shots from the field, junior guard C.J. McCollum jacked up 24 shots and got to the free throw line 16 times. He played 39 of 40 minutes and poured in a game-high 30 points.

For one player from such a little known school to ascend to the national stage and take down one of the premier college programs in the nation is astonishing. Although Lehigh ultimately fell short in the next round to Xavier, the Mountain Hawks proved they could hang with the best the country had to offer.


Jordyn Wieber—zero individual medals in 2012 Summer Olympics

The most highly touted gymnast on the women's national team, the 17-year-old American wasn't able to walk away with any individual medals this summer in London. Although she contributed to the USA's cause in winning the team gold medal, it was shocking that Wieber wasn't able to rise to the podium in any of the other events.

Wieber fell frequently, and Americans everywhere commiserated with her. She didn't even qualify for the all-around individual final, despite the perception that she was the team's best all-around gymnast. The only event she finished was the floor, where she placed seventh out of eight (h/t Bill Reiter, FOX Sports).

While she can take solace in the fact that she and her supportive teammates ultimately walked away with a shared gold medal, Wieber will look back on these Olympics perpetually disappointed.

This development was a prime example of how much of a pressure cooker the Games can be, no matter the caliber of the athlete.

I'll Have Another—Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner

It's hard to say what would be worse for Baffert, seeing Game On Dude fall way back to seventh in the Breeders' Cup or having his horse Bodemeister come so close but not win the first two marquee horse races of the year.

The runner-up finishes result in more bank but might be more heartbreaking, particularly losing to such a heavy underdog in I'll Have Another.

Entering the Kentucky Derby, I'll Have Another was a 14-1 longshot, sitting in the No. 19 spot with a rookie jockey in Mario Gutierrez. No horse had ever won from there in the 137 previous times the race had been held at Churchill Downs (h/t ESPN, via AP).

This was no ordinary day, though. Gutierrez rode the horse to a miraculous victory in his debut and beat out Bodemeister and legendary jockey Mike Smith in the process.

ESPN blogger Claire Novak couldn't have been more prophetic when she said that we haven't heard the last of Gutierrez.

Not to be dismissed as a fluke, I'll Have Another backed up the win in Kentucky with...another victory. This time at the Preakness Stakes, the stallion once again edged Bodemeister to come out on top.

Unfortunately, I'll Have Another was scratched and couldn't get his shot at the Triple Crown. But this sensational story has to be the biggest racehorse upset story of 2012. For that matter, no upsets have beaten it to date.