The horse racing calendar has many important events throughout the year and reaches a climax with the Breeders’ Cup. This year the event takes place at Santa Anita Park on November 1 and 2 with horses from all around the globe competing for millions of dollars in prize money.
Over 30 Years of History
It was in 1984 when the first-ever Breeders’ Cup World Championships event was held at Hollywood Park. Until 2007 it was a one-day event but then a second day was added. The intention of the Breeders Cup was to create a year-end championship for North American Thoroughbred racing. However, the races began to attract leading contenders from other major horse racing countries such as Great Britain, Ireland and Japan.
Last year saw 14 races held over the two days with a minimum $1m prize money in each race. The first day was given the title ‘Future Stars Friday’ with the focus mainly put on two-year-old horses. Day two saw major races such as the Breeders’ Cup Classic and Breeders’ Cup Turf with combined prize money of $10m.
Win and You’re In
The Breeders’ Cup races feature some of the top racehorses in the world, but it’s not just about events held in November. The Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series comprises of qualifying races and are known as ‘Win and You’re In’ events. The first for 2019 took place in Argentina at the end of last year. This summer will see the first European race with the Juddmonte International at York in the UK on August 21 being part of the series
Let’s look at the top races due to take place in November and the top contenders.
Breeders’ Cup Sprint
This six-furlong race has been a regular feature of the Breeders’ Cup since its launch 35 years ago. It’s been won for the past two years by Roy H, who will bid for a hat-trick of victories in November. No horse has won this race three times, and Roy H is the Santa Anita favorite to make history with another triumph. He’s had an incredible career considering by the time the age of five was reached, he’d only won one race.
Even more incredible was his win last year when starting slowly and bumping into the starting gate. Yet the bay gelding went on to win the race by 3 1⁄4 lengths over Whitmore. He’s also bidding to become the first seven-year-old to win since 1997 but has some talented youngsters to defeat.
The second favourite is the unbeaten four-year-old Mitole who has already had two wins this season. That included the Grade 1 Churchill Downs Stakes in May. Also strongly fancied is World of Trouble who has won five of his last six races and won the Grade 1 Carter Handicap this year, though that was over seven furlongs.
Breeders’ Cup Turf
This race also has a defending champion that isn’t ready to give up his crown. Enable from the John Gosden stable in the UK won last year with Frankie Dettori in the saddle making it nine victories in a row. The filly won the Epsom Oaks in 2017 and has been the winner of the Prix De L’Arc De Triomphe for the past two years. Enable is likely to be back on the track in the second half of this year and is also the favourite to win a third straight Prix De L’Arc De Triomphe.
Sea of Class is another British contender and finished just a neck behind Enable in the 2018 Prix De L’Arc De Triomphe. That ended a run of three straight wins including success in both the Irish and Yorkshire Oaks. More close battles with Enable look to be on the cards in both France and the USA.
Group One winner Magical will also be a major threat. She finished second behind Enable in this race last year. The filly hails from the all-conquering Aiden O’Brien stable (who have had a record six wins in this race) and has already had three outings this year, winning them all.
Breeders’ Cup Classic
This is the most valuable race and one of the richest in the world. It’s run over 10 furlongs and last year was won by Accelerate who has since been retired. Maximum Security is the favourite in an open field and will hope for better luck than he had in the recent Kentucky Derby. Maximum Security finished first but was then placed last after being found guilty of interference.
Thunder Snow is owned by Godolphin and was placed third in this race last year. Earlier in the season he’d been a convincing winner of the Dubai World Cup and won it again in March of this year.
Another main contender is Bravazo who was third in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile last year and should be able to see out the extra two furlongs for this race.
As well as the significant prize money, Breeders’ Cup winners can make money for years by being retired to stud.