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The Breeders' Cup World Championships is an annual series of Grade I thoroughbred horse races 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. The location changes each year. All sites have been in the United States, except in 1996, when the races were at the Woodbine Racetrackmarker in Canadamarker.

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 Breeders' Cup was founded in 1982 by John R. Gaines, a leading thoroughbred owner and breeder. 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.

The attendance at the Breeders's Cup ranks 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 for more information see American Thoroughbred Racing top Attended Events.

In the past, those who considered poker a sport could argue that the final table of the World Series of Poker was the richest day in sports; the highest payout ever at the final table was $38 million in 2006. However, a change to the format of the final table in 2008 means that the final day of the WSOP is now behind several sporting events, including Dubai World Cup Night and Day 2 of the Breeders' Cup.

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 whithers of the winning horse and four Breeders' Cup Trophy presented to the connections of the winners.

The Breeders' Cup is currently searching for a title sponsor.

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.

Selection process

A maximum of 14 starters are allowed in each of the 14 Breeders' Cup Championships races with the exception of the Dirt Mile, Juvenile Fillies Turf and Juvenile Turf which will each 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 six weeks before the Breeders' Cup (in 2008, this took place on October 14) 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.

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. 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.

2009 races

Each day is arranged in race card order.


The Filly & Mare Sprint, Juvenile Turf, and Dirt Mile were not eligible to be graded stakes in 2007 or 2008. Similarly, the Juvenile Fillies Turf, Marathon, and Turf Sprint were ineligible for grading in 2008 and 2009. The American Graded Stakes Committee of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, the body that controls grading of North American stakes races, requires that a race be run under the same conditions for at least two years before it can be graded.

Starting in 2009, the Filly & Mare Sprint and Dirt Mile became Grade I races, while the Juvenile Turf was Grade II. Although the latter event is the first Breeders' Cup race not to receive Grade I status, it is in a racing category that has no US Grade I events (2-year-olds on turf).

The 2007 Dirt Mile was run over 1 mile and 70 yards, while the 2007 Filly & Mare Sprint was run over six furlongs. These distances were required because of the configuration of the dirt track at the 2007 Breeders' Cup site of Monmouth Parkmarker.

The 2008 and 2009 Turf Sprints were contested on Santa Anita Parkmarker's signature El Camino Real “downhill” turf course, with a maximum of 14 starters. In future years, the distance will depend on track configurations.

Beginning in 2007, a new qualifying process took effect, in which the winners of certain races earned automatic entry to the event in their respective divisions.


The all-time leaders in Breeders' Cup wins are:

The following horses have won the same Breeders' Cup race twice:

The only horse to win two different Breeders' Cup races is Zenyatta, winner of the Ladies' Classic in 2008 and the Classic in 2009.

Churchill Downsmarker has hosted the race card six times, more than any other track. It hosted the card most recently in 2006, and will do so again in 2010.

On August 11, 2009 the Breeders' Cup announced that it will 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 1990's) replaces the standard purple saddle towels which had been used since 1985. The first Breeders' Cup in 1984 used yellow saddle towels..

2002 betting scandal

The 2002 betting scandal was an incident that arose when computer programmer Chris Harn conspired with two friends, Derrick Davis and Glen DaSilva, to manipulate bets in the 2002 Breeders' Cup, held at Arlington Parkmarker in Arlington, Illinoismarker. This enabled a $3 million USD payout to the conspirators. The scam was exposed when a 43-to-1 longshot won the Breeders' Cup Classic, resulting in Davis being the only winner of the jackpot. Eventually, Harn, Davis and DaSilva pleaded guilty.


NBC had broadcast every Breeders' Cup from its inception in 1984 through 2005. Starting in 2006, ESPN took over the television contract for eight years. On June 2, 2008, it was announced that ABC would televise a portion of the Saturday card from 1-3:30 PM Eastern before moving back to ESPN. ESPN2 airs the Friday Card.

Trevor Denman is the voice of the Breeders' Cup. He began in 2006. All previous Breeders' Cup races were called by Tom Durkin from 1984 through 2005.

Race tracks

Past and Future Breeders' Cup sites:

Some future sites have been set:

  • 2009 - Santa Anita Park
  • 2010 - Churchill Downs

The 2008 and 2009 events at Santa Anita are the first time that the annual event is being held in consecutive years at the same track. These also mark the first times that the event is being held on an artificial racing surface.

Notes and references

  1. Starting in 2008, the Main Event field plays down to the final table of 9 players in July, and ninth-place money is awarded to all nine at that time. The final nine players then return in November for two days of play. On the first day, the final table plays down to two players, with all players eliminated on that day receiving the difference between ninth-place money and the prize for their placement. On the second day, the two remaining contestants play heads-up.
  2. Sentient is New Breeders' Cup Partner |
  3. Monthly Index to Online Story's |
  4. Graded Stakes Committee releases 2008 changes - Thoroughbred Times

See also

External links

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