|Championship Event Series race|
|Website||Official Breeders' Cup website|
|Distance||See individual races|
|Track||Turf, Dirt, All Weather|
|Qualification||See individual races|
|Weight||See individual races|
|Purse||Varies by Race; Between $500,000 – $5 Million|
The Breeders' Cup World Championships is an annual series of Thoroughbred horse races, most but not all Grade I, operated by Breeders' Cup Limited, a company formed in 1982. From its inception in 1984 through 2006, it was a single-day event; starting in 2007, it expanded to two days. All sites have been in the United States, except in 1996, when the races were at the Woodbine Racetrack in Canada.
The attendance at the Breeders's Cup ranks fourth or fifth in North America and usually surpasses the attendance of all other stakes races. The attendance of the Breeders' Cup typically only trails the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Kentucky Oaks (and in some years, the Belmont Stakes); for more information see American Thoroughbred Racing top Attended Events.
With the addition of three new races for 2008, a total of $25.5 million was awarded over the two days, up from $23 million in 2007. Each Breeders' Cup race awards to the winner a garland of flowers draped over the withers of the winning horse and four Breeders' Cup Trophy presented to the connections of the winners.
The Breeders' Cup Grand National Steeplechase is not operated by Breeders' Cup Limited, but instead by the National Steeplechase Association, which has a licensing agreement to use the "Breeders' Cup" name.
A maximum of 14 starters are allowed in each of the 14 Breeders' Cup Championships races with the exception of the Dirt Mile which will be limited to 12 starters. Breeders' Cup Limited has adopted a field selection system to select runners in the event fields are oversubscribed. This system ranks horses in order of preference based upon (1) performance in Breeders' Cup Challenge Races, (2) a point system, and (3) the judgment of a panel of racing experts. The field selection system will be implemented as necessary following the taking of pre-entries approximately two weeks before the Breeders' Cup (in 2012, this will take place on October 22) to officially rank the oversubscribed fields. The Racing Directors/Secretaries Panel (the "Panel") will rank all the horses pre-entered in the oversubscribed races as described below. After pre-entry, any vacancies in the fields will be filled by horses in order of panel preference.
Through 2006, there were eight races on the Breeders' Cup card, all classified as Grade I races. In 2007, three races – the Dirt Mile, Filly and Mare Sprint, and Juvenile Turf – were added, all of them run the Friday before the remaining eight races. Three more new races – a Turf Sprint, Juvenile Filly Turf and Marathon – were added for 2008. A Juvenile Sprint was added for 2011.
The order of the races on the card has changed many times throughout the event's history, but the Turf and Classic are traditionally the last two races (although this was not the case in 2012). The 2008 event was the first in which Day 1 of the event was dedicated to races for fillies and mares, with Day 2 featuring all other races. For 2009, the Marathon, open to runners of both sexes, was moved from Day 2 to be the opening race on Day 1, but all other races stayed on the day they had been run in 2008. In 2011, the Marathon was moved from Day 1 to Day 2, with the Juvenile Sprint becoming the first race overall (and also the only one on Day 1 open to males). The Marathon returned to Day 1 in 2012. For 2013, the first day was no longer primarily devoted to races for fillies and mares, with the Dirt Mile and Juvenile Turf moving to Day 1 and the Filly & Mart Sprint and Filly & Mare Turf moving to Day 2.
Two other significant changes were made in 2013. First, the Juvenile Sprint was discontinued after only two runnings. That race had been widely perceived as a consolation prize for horses not good enough to run in the Juvenile. Second, the Ladies' Classic returned to its original name of Distaff. When the latter announcement was made, Breeders' Cup president Craig Fravel said,
We restored the Ladies' Classic to its original name due to feedback from our loyal fans who have a strong affinity for the Distaff. In recognition of our 30th year, the Distaff has provided us with some of racing's most remarkable moments, personified by such outstanding thoroughbreds as Lady's Secret, Personal Ensign, Azeri, Zenyatta, and our two-time defending champion, Royal Delta. It is a fitting tribute to bring back the name Distaff to honor the rich history of the championships.
The event was created as a year-end championship for North American Thoroughbred racing, and also attracts top horses from other parts of the world, especially Europe. The idea for the Breeders' Cup was proposed at the 1982 awards luncheon for the Kentucky Derby Festival by pet food heir John R. Gaines (1928–2005), a leading Thoroughbred owner and breeder who wanted to clean up the sport's image. Before the Breeders' Cup expanded to two days, it was generally considered to be the richest day in sports. As of 2008, the second day of the Breeders' Cup is the second-richest. In 2008, a total of $17 million was awarded on that day, down from $20 million in 2007 (two races were moved from Day 2 to Day 1). The richest single day in sports is now another Thoroughbred racing event, Dubai World Cup Night. It features six races with a combined purse of $21 million in 2008.
Breeders Cup Wins – Jockey:
Breeders Cup Wins – Trainer:
Breeders Cup Earnings – Owner:
- Allen E. Paulson – $8,730,000
Breeders Cup Earnings – Horse:
- Zenyatta – $4,680,000
- Tiznow – $4,560,400
- Goldikova (IRE) – $3,508,200
- Conduit (IRE) – $3,240,000
- Curlin – $2,955,000
The following horses have won the same Breeders' Cup race at least twice:
- Classic: Tiznow (2000, 2001)
- Filly & Mare Turf: Ouija Board (2004, 2006)
- Distaff: Bayakoa (1989, 1990), Royal Delta (2011, 2012)
- From 2008 to 2012, this race was known as the Ladies' Classic.
- Mile: Miesque (1987, 1988), Lure (1992, 1993), Da Hoss (1996, 1998), Goldikova (2008, 2009, 2010), Wise Dan (2012, 2013)
- Sprint: Midnight Lute (2007, 2008)
- Turf: High Chaparral (2002, 2003), Conduit (2008, 2009)
- Turf Sprint: Mizdirection (2012, 2013)
- Filly & Mare Sprint: Groupie Doll (2012, 2013)
The following horse(s) have won two different Breeders' Cup races:
- Zenyatta, Distaff in 2008, Classic in 2009.
- Beholder, Juvenile Fillies in 2012, Distaff in 2013
- Secret Circle, Juvenile Sprint in 2011, Sprint in 2013
The following horse(s) have won the same Breeders' Cup race three times:
- Goldikova, Mile (2008, 2009, 2010).
The oldest horse to win a Breeders' Cup race is Calidiscopio, age 9, who won the Breeders' Cup Marathon in 2012.
The 1988 Breeders' Cup marked the first time a female jockey competed as American Julie Krone rode in three races that day; the Juvenile Fillies, the Juvenile and the Classic finishing 2nd, 6th and 4th respectively. Krone also became the first woman to ride all the way into the winner's circle when she guided Halfbridled to a historic victory in the 2003 edition of the Juvenile Fillies. Five female trainers have won a Breeders' Cup race, most recently Kathy Ritvo, who saddled 2013 Classic winner Mucho Macho Man.
Churchill Downs has hosted the race card eight times, more than any other track. It hosted the card most recently in 2011. Santa Anita Park will host the Breeders Cup and eighth time as well in 2014, tying this record.
On August 11, 2009 the Breeders' Cup announced that it would use the standard colored saddle towel system starting with the 2009 event. The new color-coded system (which has been used at many North American racetracks since the mid-1990s) replaces the standard purple saddle towels which had been used since 1985. The first Breeders' Cup in 1984 used yellow saddle towels.
The race order for 2013 was as follows:
- $500,000 Breeders' Cup Marathon (gr. II)
- $1 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (gr. IT)
- $1 million Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (gr. I)
- $1 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (gr. IT)
- $2 million Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I) (formerly known as Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic)
- $2 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I)
- $1 million Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT)
- $1 million Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (gr. I)
- $1 million Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (gr. IT)
- $2 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I)
- $3 million Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT)
- $1.5 million Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I)
- $2 million Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT)
- $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I)
NBC had broadcast every Breeders' Cup from its inception in 1984 through 2005. In 2006 ESPN took over the television contract for eight years through 2013. However, in January 2012 the Breeders' Cup announced a new contract with NBC Sports Group, superseding the final two years of the ESPN contract. Beginning in 2012, the Breeders' Cup would be broadcast in its entirety on the NBC Sports Network, except for the Classic which would be televised on NBC in primetime.
The Breeders' Cup races were called by Tom Durkin from 1984 through 2005, and by Trevor Denman from 2006 to 2012. Larry Collmus called the races for NBCSN and NBC while Denman called the races for the track in 2013.
Past and Future Breeders' Cup sites:
- 2014 – Santa Anita Park
- 2013 – Santa Anita Park
- 2012 – Santa Anita Park
- 2011 – Churchill Downs
- 2010 – Churchill Downs
- 2009 – Santa Anita Park
- 2008 – Santa Anita Park
- 2007 – Monmouth Park
- 2006 – Churchill Downs
- 2005 – Belmont Park
- 2004 – Lone Star Park
- 2003 – Santa Anita Park
- 2002 – Arlington Park
- 2001 – Belmont Park
- 2000 – Churchill Downs
- 1999 – Gulfstream Park
- 1998 – Churchill Downs
- 1997 – Hollywood Park
- 1996 – Woodbine
- 1995 – Belmont Park
- 1994 – Churchill Downs
- 1993 – Santa Anita Park
- 1992 – Gulfstream Park
- 1991 – Churchill Downs
- 1990 – Belmont Park
- 1989 – Gulfstream Park
- 1988 – Churchill Downs
- 1987 – Hollywood Park
- 1986 – Santa Anita Park
- 1985 – Aqueduct
- 1984 – Hollywood Park
Notes and references
- Monthly Index to Online Story's | Blood-Horse.com
- Duckworth, Amanda (October 30, 2013). "Oh, Breeders' Cup". ESPN.com. Retrieved November 3, 2013.
- Mizdirection wins Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint
- "It's Official: Churchill to Host BC in 2011". BloodHorse Staff (bloodhorse.com). June 11, 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-11.
- "Breeders' Cup to adopt standard colored saddle towels for World Championships (includes picture of new towels)". Breeders Cup (breederscup.com). August 11, 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-14.
- "Breeders' Cup Announces Final Race Order". Breeders' Cup. October 22, 2013. Retrieved October 24, 2013.
- "Breeders' Cup will not expand Lasix ban, drops Juvenile Sprint". Daily Racing Form. March 1, 2013. Retrieved October 24, 2013.
- Shulman, Lenny (January 22, 2012). "NBC Takes Over Breeders' Cup Coverage". The BloodHorse. Retrieved January 22, 2012.
- Breeders Crown
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- Ten Things You Should Know about the Breeders' Cup at Hello Race Fans!