Run over two days and consisting of a total of 14 races that cover almost every specialty in horse racing – from sprint, to mile to filly and juvenile, the Breeder’s Cup is the culmination of the horse racing season. Started in 1984, it is held at various racetracks throughout the United States and Canada and will be held in Churchill Downs this year, after a visit to Del Mar in 2017. It starts on Friday November 2 and concludes on Saturday the 3rd.
Interest in horse racing has gotten a boost recently with two Triple Crown winners in the span of just 3 years – this after a 37-year wait. There was talk that another horse may never win the coveted Triple Crown again, but American Pharoah proved them wrong with a spectacular campaign that not only had him win the three races that comprise the triple crown, but then to go on and win the Breeder’s Cup Classic. American Pharoah’s exciting season was followed by this year’s Triple Crown win by Justify. Unfortunately, Justify will not be going on to run in the Classic – having had to be retired due to an ankle injury – leaving the door open for several contenders.
The 1 1/4-mile Classic is the defining event of the Breeder’s Cup and considered by some to be the championship of the horse racing season. It is a hotly contested race run on dirt for horses 3-years-old and older. Many of the horses will be familiar from the Triple Crown races as well as some of the summer and early fall graded stakes races like The Haskell and The Travers.
There are 13 other races including many that are considered among the top races in the world: The Turf, 1 ½-miles on the grass for 3-year-olds and older; The Mile, a race on grass for milers 3-year-old and older; The Distaff, for fillies and mares and run on the dirt at a distance of 1 1/8 miles. Yet another closely watched race is The Juvenile, a race for two-year old’s run on dirt at 1 1/16 mile. It is considered the test for the next year’s three-year old’s and the winner is often considered a favorite for the Kentucky Derby, though only three Juvenile winners have gone on to win in a Triple Crown race. A total of 13 juvenile horses that have come ‘in the money’ have gone on to Triple Crown Race success.
To add to the drama and excitement of The Breeder’s Cup, The Breeder’s Cup Challenge was initiated in 2007. The Challenge is a series of races that invokes a ‘win and you’re in’ concept, which means the winner of the selected race gains an automatic berth in its respective Breeder’s Cup race. These races are held throughout the world. Some of the familiar races for US horse racing fans are The Haskell at Monmouth Park, New Jersey, The Travers at Saratoga Racetrack in New York, The Arlington Million at Arlington Racecourse in Illinois., The Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita Park in California and The Pacific Classic at Del Mar, also in California. There is a total of 84 races that are a part of the Breeder’s Cup challenge and there is a good chance there is one near you. If you can’t make it to the track, NBC will be televising select races.
Tickets to the Breeder’s Cup went on sale June 7th. There are still opportunities to host a group or entertain clients in one of the many Churchill Downs hospitality areas. While some dining areas like the Starting Gate and Triple crown Room are sold out, many more are available, including a two day package on Millionaires Row for $1170 per person, a two day package for the Skye Terrace at $1,199 per person or The View available for Friday only at $270 per person. Box seating is also available, including Clubhouse Boxes available for $270 – $770 per person, depending on location. For more information, please contact The Breeder’s Cup directly at 859-514-9428 or 800-745-3000.
(editor’s note: This post has been updated to reflect the retirement of Good Magic and its elimination as a contender for the Breeder’s Cup. It has also been edited to reflect that the Traver’s and Whitney handicaps have now been run.)