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With 86 Breeders' Cup Challenge races in the rearview mirror, the 38th Breeders' Cup World Championship is in full focus, as Del Mar beckons on November 5-6 for the second time, some four years after a rousing success in 2017.
All told, 14 championship races worth $31 million in purses and awards will take place over two days, with the grand finale, the $6 million Longines Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) at 1 ¼ miles, headlined by the Brad Cox-trained stablemates KNICKS GO and ESSENTIAL QUALITY in a field brimming with talent, and the Horse of the Year title on the line.
The 2021 Breeders' Cup Challenge Series schedule consists of 84 automatic qualifying stakes races into the Breeders' Cup World Championships. This year's series, which includes a record nine "Win and You're In" races for the $6 million Longines Breeders' Cup Classic division, will take place in 10 countries.
Horses from around the globe will be qualifying through the Challenge Series for the 38th Breeders' Cup World Championships, which is scheduled to be held at Del Mar racetrack in Del Mar, California, on Nov. 5-6, and will be televised live on NBC and NBCSN.
The Challenge Series, now in its 15th year, will be hosted at many of the world's premier racetracks in Argentina, Canada, Chile, England, France, Ireland, Japan, Peru, South Africa and the United States.
There are two new Challenge Series races in 2021: The Suburban Stakes (G2) at Belmont Park on July 3, which grants a berth into the Longines Breeders' Cup Classic (G1), and the Calumet Kentucky Cup (G2) at Kentucky Downs on Sept. 11, which offers a spot in the $4 million Longines Breeders' Cup Turf (G1).
The first North American Breeders' Cup Challenge Series race of the year will be the Shoemaker Mile (G1) at Santa Anita Park on May 31. The Shoemaker Mile winner will gain a free starting position into the $2 million FanDuel Breeders' Cup Mile (G1).
As part of the benefits to horsemen, Breeders' Cup will pay the entry fees and guarantee a starting position in a corresponding Championships race for all Challenge Series race winners. The Challenge winner must be nominated to the Breeders' Cup program by the Championships' pre-entry deadline of Oct. 25 to receive the rewards.
In addition, Breeders' Cup will provide a $40,000 travel allowance to the connections of all Championship starters from outside of North America and a $10,000 travel allowance for starters within North America that are stabled outside of California.
In support of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA), which was signed into law in the U.S. last December, all Breeders' Cup Challenge races this year will not permit medications to be administered within 24 hours of race day.
"We look forward to the return of the Breeders' Cup Challenge Series with horsemen from around the world participating in and taking advantage of the many incentives, such as automatic starting positions and paid entry fees, to qualify for the World Championships," said Breeders' Cup President and CEO Drew Fleming. "We also thank our international and domestic racetrack partners for their important work and dedication to support the Challenge Series."
Providing fans with a path to the World Championships, NBC Sports will televise the "Breeders' Cup Challenge Series: Win and You're In Series presented by America's Best Racing," featuring 12 live programs in the U.S. this summer and fall. The full 2021 television schedule will be announced Wednesday, April 21.
There will be a record nine automatic berths awarded for the $6 million Longines Breeders' Cup Classic. The 4-year-old Cafe Pharoah became the first horse to qualify for this year's Longines Breeders' Cup Classic when he won the February Stakes (G1) at Tokyo Racecourse in Japan on Feb. 16. The next automatic qualifier in the division will be the Stephen Foster Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs on June 26; followed by the Suburban Stakes (G2) at Belmont Park on July 3; the TVG.com Haskell Stakes (G1) at Monmouth Park on July 17; the Whitney (G1) at Saratoga Race Course on Aug. 7; the Juddmonte International Stakes (G1) at York in England on Aug. 18; the TVG Pacific Classic (G1) at Del Mar on Aug. 21; The Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) at Saratoga on Sept. 4; and the Awesome Again Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita Park on Oct. 2.
In the U.S., there will be six "Win and You're In" races for the $2 million Longines Breeders' Cup Distaff (G1), starting with the Ogden Phipps (G1) on June 5 as part of the Belmont Stakes (G1) day program at Belmont Park. The Ogden Phipps will be followed by the Fleur de Lis (G2) at Churchill Downs on June 26; the Clement L. Hirsch Stakes (G1) at Del Mar on Aug. 1; The Personal Ensign (G1) at Saratoga on Aug. 28; the Juddmonte Spinster (G1) at Keeneland on Oct. 3; and the Zenyatta Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita Park on Oct. 3.
The European leg of the Breeders' Cup Challenge Series will begin with four races at the Royal Ascot meeting in England: The Queen Anne Stakes (G1) on June 15 with an invitation to the FanDuel Breeders' Cup Mile (G1); the Prince of Wales's Stakes (G1) on June 16 with an invitation to the Longines Breeders' Cup Turf (G1); the Norfolk Stakes (G2) on June 17 with an invitation to the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2); and the Diamond Jubilee Stakes (G1) on June 19 with an invitation to the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (G1).
Three other prestigious European automatic qualifiers for the Longines Breeders' Cup Turf (G1) are also back: The King George VI & Queen Elizabeth QIPCO Stakes (G1) at Ascot on July 24; the Irish Champion Stakes (G1) at Leopardstown on Sept. 11; and the Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (G1) at ParisLongchamp on Oct. 3, one of five Breeders' Cup Challenge races on the Arc day program.
Canada will be represented by three Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Challenge Series races at Woodbine, led by the Ricoh Woodbine Mile on Sept. 18 with an invitation to the FanDuel Breeders' Cup Mile (G1), and Natalma Stakes with an invitation to the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) and the Summer Stakes with an invitation to the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G1), both on Sept. 19.
The international portion of the series began on Dec. 19 when the 3-year-old Cool Day (ARG) captured the Gran Premio International Carlos Pellegrini (G1) at Hipodromo de San Isidro in Argentina to gain the first automatic starting berth into the Longines Breeders' Cup Turf (G1). Three more South American races will be part of the 2021 Challenge Series: the Gran Premio Criadores (G1) from Palermo in Argentina on May 1 with an invitation to the Longines Breeders' Cup Distaff (G1); the Gran Premio Club Hipico Falabella (G1) at Club Hipico in Chile on May 2 with an invitation to the FanDuel Breeders' Cup Mile (G1); and the Gran Premio Pamplona (G1) at Hipodromo de Monterrico in Peru on June 26 with an invitation to the Maker's Mark Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1).
On Jan. 9 at Kenilworth Racecourse in South Africa, two horses gained "Win and You're In" berths. The 3-year-old Jet Dark (SAF) won the L'Ormarins Queen's Plate (G1) for a free spot in the FanDuel Breeders' Cup Mile (G1), and the 5-year-old mare Queen Supreme (IRE) earned an automatic qualifying position into the Maker's Mark Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) by winning the Cartier Paddock Stakes (G1). On March 21, Mike de Kock, trainer of Queen Supreme, indicated that she will be pointed to the World Championships this fall.
Last year, five Breeders' Cup Challenge Series winners also won a World Championships race: Authentic (TVG.com Haskell Stakes, G1) winner of the Longines Breeders' Cup Classic (G1); Tarnawa (IRE) (Prix de l'Opera Longines, G1) winner of the Longines Breeders' Cup Turf (G1); Glass Slippers (GB) (Derrinstown Stud Flying Five Stakes, G1) winner of the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (G1); Essential Quality (Claiborne Breeders' Futurity, G1) winner of the TVG Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) and Aunt Pearl (IRE) (JPMorgan Chase Jessamine Stakes, G2) winner of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1).
Every sport has a definitive year-ending event to crown its champions. In Thoroughbred racing, the Breeders' Cup World Championships is the culmination of the horse racing season worldwide and the $6 million Breeders' Cup Classic is the defining event of the international racing season.
The Breeders’ Cup World Thoroughbred Championships held the first series of its seven races before a crowd of 64,254 horse racing, horse betting, horse wagering, and handicapping fans at Hollywood Park in 1984. Today, purses for the fifteen races of the Breeders’ Cup amount to $26 million. The most important race in the series, the Breeders' Cup Classic, has a total purse of $5 million, with a winner's share of more than $2.5 million.
The Breeders’ Cup traces its roots back to 1982, with a group of Horse racing leaders frontlined by John R. Gaines, founding father of the Breeders’ Cup and former owner of Gainesway Farm near Lexington, Kentucky. The group had envisioned a vehicle to promote the sport, which would not only be a showcase of the sport’s finest elements but also a grand finale to the racing season, with a multimillion dollar total purse. Every one of those visions came true.
The Breeders’ Cup inaugural event was held on November 10, 1984 at glitzy Hollywood Park in Inglewood, California. It was an instant hit. The championship races have since become the cornerstone of a year-round program that has allocated over $380 million to owners and breeders alike. Most divisional champions crowned since 1984 have participated in a Breeders' Cup racing event.
In 1986, a separate $250,000 Breeders' Cup Steeplechase, run two weeks earlier than the series at a different track, was added to the program. That race was discontinued after 1993. A turf race for fillies and mares was added in 1999.
Breeders' Cup Betting - In Thoroughbred racing, the Breeders' Cup is the culmination of the horse racing season worldwide.
After Hollywood Park, the Breeders’ Cup would change venues yearly. Each fall, a different North American track plays host to the prestigious thoroughbred racing event, which have included the richly historical Churchill Downs, the stately Belmont Park, and the panoramic Santa Anita Park in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains.
Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, holds the records for both Breeders' Cup attendance and total horse betting. The renowned racecourse attracted 80,452 spectators in 1998, and when the races came back to Louisville in 2000, over $108 million was wagered.
Since 1984, the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships has continued to grow in popularity owing to its prestige and keen level of competition. Contending horses have not only come from the US but all the way from England, Ireland, France, Japan, and Germany. The races are televised on both NBC and ESPN (pre-championships), and simulcast in 25 countries, with horserace wagering at more than $108 million.
But beyond the foreign players and media sponsors, thoroughbred owners and breeders have served as the Breeders’ Cup’s backbone since the very beginning. They not only supply the race horses competing in the Breeders' Cup events but also pay the nominations from which the organization, Breeder’s Cup Limited, derives its major source of funding.
As an international program, the Breeders’ Cup has instituted a nomination process to breeders around the world. Stallion owners annually pay a nomination fee that is the equivalent of a stallion's advertised stud fee, or a minimum of $1,000. Breeders pay a nomination fee of $500 for each foal. Nominated horses are eligible to compete for millions in both the Breeders’ Cup Stakes program and the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships events. Annual nominations from all over the world have made the Breeders’ Cup a truly global institution.
The Breeders’ Cup has no doubt accomplished what its founders set out to do, and more. Today, after 32 years and running, the Breeders’ Cup remains the definitive test of Horse racing champions, and has become thoroughbred racing’s most recognizable and successful showpiece worldwide.
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