The Breeders' Cup
The Breeders' Cup is a one-day event held at a location that changes each year. All the sites have been in the United States, except in 1996, when the races were held at Woodbine Racetrack in Canada.
The Breeders' Cup, which has been run annually since 1984, was created as a year-end championship for North American thoroughbred racing, and it 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.
All Breeders' Cup fields are limited to 14 runners. If more than 14 are pre-entered, Breeders' Cup officials use a two-part selection system to decide which horses will be allowed to compete. The first seven runners earn automatic berths based on the points they have earned in American graded stakes races then a panel of racing directors and secretaries choose the next seven entrants.
Currently, there are eight races on the Breeders' Cup card, all classified as Grade 1 races. The races are listed below in their order on the 2006 race card; the order of the first six listed races varies from year to year, but the 'Turf' and 'Classic' are traditionally the last two races. All races, unless otherwise indicated, are for any horse, regardless of sex, two years old and up, and are held on a dirt track.
Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies: A 1 1/16-mile race for 2-year-old fillies.
Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile: A 1 1/16-mile race for 2-year-old colts and geldings.
Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf: A 1 3/8-mile or 1 1/4-mile race on grass for fillies and mares, 3 years old and up.
TVG Breeders' Cup Sprint: A 6 Furlong Race.
NetJets Breeders' Cup Mile: A 1-mile race on grass.
Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Distaff: A 1 1/8-mile race for fillies and mares, 3 years old and up.
John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf: A 1 1/2-mile race on grass.
Breeders' Cup Classic, Powered by Dodge: A 1 1/4-mile race. Current purse is $5 million.
In 2007, a new qualifying process took effect, where the winners of 24 races at six tracks - Saratoga Race Course, Arlington Park, Del Mar, Belmont Park, Keeneland and Santa Anita during the Oak Tree meeting - were automatically entered for the event in their respective divisions.
Breeder's Cup Trivia
- The all-time Breeders' Cup leaders:
- Jockey: Jerry Bailey - 15 wins
- Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas - 18 wins
- Leading money winning owner: Allen E. Paulson - $8,730,000
Churchill Downs has hosted the race card six times, more than any other track. It hosted the card most recently in 2006.
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.
All Breeders' Cup races have been called by Tom Durkin through 2005. Fellow race caller Trevor Denman now serves as the voice of the Breeders' Cup races on ESPN starting as of 2006, due to Durkin's exclusive contract with NBC Sports.
- Breeder's Cup Firsts:
- First winner: Chief's Crown 1984
- First Classic winner: Wild Again 1984
- First winner to repeat: Miesque (French mare) 1987 & 1988
- First winner of $4 million race to repeat: Tiznow 2000 & 2001
- First Classic winner to be sired by a Classic winner: Ghostzapper 2004 (Awesome Again - father)
- First Foreign-based Winners: Royal Herione Ireland & Lashkari Great Britain 1984
- First Special Stakes winner: Sondrio (Ireland)
- First Breeders' Cup Steeplechase winner: Census 1986
- First Breeders' Cup champion elected to National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame: Lady's Secret 1992
- First Breeders' Cup outside of U.S.: Woodbine Racetrack, Toronto 1996