Ten Things You Should Know: Breeders’ Cup
By Kevin Martin, Hello Race Fans Contributing Editor
Originally published on November 2, 2010
1) The Breeders’ Cup is a series of races held over two days that takes place every fall in the United States. It is dubbed the “World Championships” of Thoroughbred racing by the event organizers.
2) The first Breeders’ Cup was held in 1984 at Hollywood Park in California.
3) John Gaines, a key figure in North American breeding and owner of Gainesway farm in Kentucky, is credited with conceiving and selling the idea of the Breeders’ Cup to his fellow breeders and to racetrack owners.
4) Historically, the location of the BC changes every year. The primary rotation of sites includes Belmont Park in New York, Churchill Downs in Kentucky, and Santa Anita in California, but it has also been held at Gulfstream Park, Aqueduct Racetrack, Hollywood Park, Woodbine, Monmouth Park, Arlington Park, and Lone Star Park. In 2008 and 2009, the event was held at Santa Anita, the first time it was held in the same location in back to back years. Churchill Downs hosted 2010 and 2011 and Santa Anita will host in 2012, 2013 and 2014. Keeneland hosted for the first time in 2015. Santa Anita hosts again in 2016 and Del Mar will host for the first time in 2017.
5) All Breeders’ Cup races are limited in the number of runners that can compete. Horses must be selected to start or win a Breeders’ Cup Challenge race where winners earn entry into a designated race. The “win and you’re in” system, instituted in 2007, allows runners to bypass the field selection process and earn a guaranteed place in the starting gate.
6) The original Breeders’ Cup races are the Juvenile (2-year-olds), Juvenile Fillies (2-year-old fillies), Sprint (6-furlongs), Mile (turf), Distaff (fillies and mares), Turf (1 1/2 miles), and Classic (1 1/4 miles).
7) The first change to the BC lineup of races came in 1989 with the addition of the Filly and Mare Turf. In 2007 and 2008, the BC added six races and a second day to the event. The added races were the Juvenile Turf, Juvenile Filly Turf, Dirt Mile, Marathon, Turf Sprint, and Filly and Mare Sprint. In 2011 the Juvenile Sprint was added and dropped in 2013. In 2014 the Marathon was dropped.
8) The Classic is considered the “main event” of the Breeders’ Cup. It has the highest purse, it’s open to 3-year-olds and up, and it’s run at the “classic” distance of 1 1/4 miles on dirt.
9) In 2010 Goldikova became the first horse to win three Breeders’ Cup races (Mile, 2008-2010) and in 2016 Beholder joined her (Juvenile Fillies 2012, Distaff 2013 & 2016). Seventeen horses have won two races: Miesque (Mile, 1987-1988), Bayakoa (Distaff, 1989-1990), Lure (Mile, 1992-1993), Da Hoss (Mile, 1996, 1998), Tiznow (Classic, 2000-2001), High Chaparral (Turf, 2002-2003), Ouija Board (Filly & Mare Turf, 2004, 2006), Midnight Lute (Sprint, 2007-2008), Conduit (Turf, 2008-2009), Zenyatta (Ladies Classic, 2008 and BC Classic, 2009), Royal Delta (Ladies Classic, 2011-2012), Secret Circle (Juvenile Sprint 2011 and Sprint 2013), Groupie Doll (Filly & Mare Sprint 2012-2013), Mizdirection (Turf Sprint 2012-2013), Wise Dan (Mile 2012-2013), Goldencents (Dirt Mile 2013-2014) and Stephanie’s Kitten (Juvenile Fillies Turf 2011 and Filly and Mare Turf 2015).
10) Trainer D. Wayne Lukas owns the most Breeders’ Cup wins by a trainer with 20. In 2012 Mike Smith overtook Jerry Bailey’s previous record of 15 wins by jockey when he won aboard Royal Delta in the Distaff and Mizdirection in the Turf Sprint. Smith is currently at 25 wins after the 2016 Breeders’ Cup.