Breeders’ Cup

The Breeders’ Cup is a two-day meeting in November with 14 Championship races. The total prize money is in excess of $30 million with races on turf and dirt. It is held at different venues in the United States except in 1996 when it was staged at Woodbine in Canada. The main feature races are the $6 million Classic and the $4 million Turf. The meeting always attracts a strong European challenge, making it the biggest International meeting in the world of racing.

Breeders’ Cup History

The Breeders’ Cup was devised as an end-of-season championship meeting for the best horses in North American racing. It was founded by leading Thoroughbred owner and breeder John R. Gaines. The first Breeders’ Cup meeting took place at Hollywood Park in 1984 and remained a single-day event until it expanded to two days in 2007.

It was the most valuable day in horse racing until surpassed by Dubai World Cup Night in 2008. The Classic and The Turf are rated in the top ten flat races in the world. The Classic takes place on dirt and is the richest race of the meeting. The Turf has been plundered by top European horses from its inception with French-trained Lashkari winning the inaugural running. There has also been plenty of European success in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (turf) and the Filly & Mare Turf.

Santa Anita hosted the Breeders’ Cup for a record tenth time in 2019. Churchill Downs is another popular venue and staged the event for the ninth time in 2018. The juvenile races all took place on the Friday for the first time that year with the card being dubbed “Future Stars Friday”.

French mare Goldikova (The Mile 2008, 2009 and 2010) is the only three-time winner of a single Breeders’ Cup race. Beholder (Juvenile Fillies 2012 and Distaff 2013 and 2016) has won at the meeting three times. Other multiple winners include Ouija Board (Filly & Mare Turf 2004 and 2006), Miesque (Mile 1987 and 1988), High Chaparral (Turf 2002 and 2003) and Zenyatta (Distaff 2008 and Classic 2009).

Breeders’ Cup Races

Breeders’ Cup Day 1

$2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (Grade 1)

The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile is the most valuable race in North America for two-year-old colts and takes place on dirt. The French-trained Arazi was a sensational winner in 1991 when he ran through the field as though they were standing still.

$1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (Grade 1)

The Juvenile Fillies Turf is a one-mile race which Europe won for the first time with Chriselliam in 2013. Chad Brown has trained the winner on five occasions, most recently with Newspaperofrecord in 2018.

$2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (Grade 1)

The Juvenile Fillies is run on the dirt track over a mile and notable previous winners include Beholder (2012) and Songbird (2015).

$1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (Grade 1)

European runners have enjoyed considerable success in this race. Aidan O’Brien has won it four times while Charlie Appleby and John Gosden each has two victories. Ryan Moore rode all four O’Brien winners, the most recent being Mendelssohn in 2017.

$1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (Grade 2)

The five-furlong Juvenile Turf Sprint was added to the meeting in 2018 with victory going to Bulletin.

Breeders’ Cup Day 2

$6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (Grade 1)

The $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic is the climax of the meeting and is in the same league as races like The Arc and the Dubai World Cup in terms of prize money and prestige. The fact that it is on dirt means it is a tough nut to crack for the Europeans. Arcangues was a shock winner for France in 1993 and John Gosden’s Raven’s Pass won in 2008.

The great Cigar won the Classic in 1995 but perhaps the most memorable renewal came in 2010. Zenyatta became the first female winner of the Classic in 2009 and failed by a whisker to follow up, losing her unbeaten record in the process. Bob Baffert trained the winner of the Classic for three consecutive seasons with Bayern (2014), American Pharoah (2015) and Arrogate (2016).

$4 million Breeders’ Cup Turf (Grade 1)

The Breeders’ Cup Turf over a mile and a half has been dominated by European-trained horses. Conduit (2008 and 2009) and High Chaparral (2002 and 2003) were trained by Sir Michael Stoute and Aidan O’Brien respectively. Other notable winners for Europe include Pebbles (1985), Daylami (1999), Found (2015) and Enable (2018). Found was one of a record eight winners in the race for O’Brien.

$2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff (Grade 1)

The Distaff is for fillies and mares over a mile on dirt. There have been three dual winners in Bayakoa (1989 and 1990), Royal Delta (2011 and 2012) and Beholder (2013 and 2016).

$2 million Breeders’ Cup Mile (Grade 1)

The Breeders’ Cup Mile on turf has attracted some of the greatest milers in Europe. Lester Piggott famously rode Royal Academy to victory here in 1990 but the race is best remembered for Goldikova’s hat-trick of victories between 2008 and 2010.

$1.5 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint (Grade 1)

The Breeders’ Cup Sprint on dirt over six furlongs has only once been won by Europe. That was Sheikh Albadou in 1991, a year after Dayjur jumped a shadow on the course when looking certain to win under Willie Carson.

$2 million Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (Grade 1)

European-trained runners have a good record in this race which is over a mile and a quarter. Ouija Board won it in 2004 and 2006 while Midday (2009) and Dank (2013) were also successful here.

$1 million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (Grade 1)

Goldencents (2013 and 2014) is the only dual winner of The Dirt Mile.

$1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (Grade 1)

There have been two dual winners of the Turf Sprint; Mizdirection (2012 and 2013) and Stormy Liberal (2017 and 2018).

$1 million Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (Grade 1)

This is a race of about seven furlongs on dirt and was won in consecutive seasons by Groupie Doll in 2012 and 2013.

Keeneland Racecourse

The Breeders’ Cup 2020 will be held at Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky. Keeneland is home to the Blue Grass Stakes, the Futurity Stakes and the Turf Mile. It has a left-handed oval dirt track of just over a mile. The turf track runs on the inside of the dirt track and is around seven and a half furlongs in length.

A low draw is regarded as an advantage in sprint races, preferably in barriers six or lower. Keeneland has a short home stretch and it is difficult to come from off the pace. Keeneland staged the Breeders’ Cup for the first time in 2015. The highlight of the meeting was the Classic victory of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah.

Best Trainers & Jockeys at the Breeders’ Cup

The most successful jockey in the history of the Breeders’ Cup is Mike Smith with an incredible 26 victories. John Velazquez has sixteen winners with Jerry Bailey (15) and Frankie Dettori (14) close behind. D. Wayne Lukas is the most successful trainer with twenty Breeders’ Cup winners. Bob Baffert and Chad Brown have fifteen apiece while Aidan O’Brien has twelve.

Betting on the Breeders’ Cup

The Classic and The Turf attract plenty of betting interest while there is always a strong European challenge in the Mile and the Filly & Mare Turf. The leading bookmakers price up the feature races in October but you should follow the running plans closely before placing your bets. The Breeders’ Cup comes at the end of a long season in the UK.

Summary

The Breeders’ Cup provides a fascinating clash between the top European horses and their American counterparts. Aidan O’Brien and John Gosden often lead the way for the European challengers, while Sir Michael Stoute usually sets one aside for this meeting. The dirt surface has been the un-doing of many overseas challengers but they have a formidable record in the turf races.

Other Horse Racing Betting Events

Our team has reviewed all the latest betting events for September 2020. Check out our other posts: