There are few more hotly anticipated horse racing spectacles than the Breeders Cup. It’s not only one the biggest weekends of racing in the United States, but also that of the world. The Breeders Cup Challenge Series has been created to allow horses that perform well in similarly high-established races from all over the world, to get entry into the Breeders Cup proper.
The concept behind the series is to bring a wider audience to the Breeders Cup. This has been achieved and now they have horses from 16 countries that compete in the Breeders Cup, largely down to the Challenge Series and the races that it includes.
When Does It Take Place?
The Breeders Cup takes place in November and this is the widely seen as the spectacle to flat racing in the US. It’s only a month following this that the Challenge Series begins, with a trip to San Isidro Racecourse for the Gran Premio International Carlos Pellegrini in Argentina.
It then runs right through until early October with the final races of the series being the JP Morgan Chase Jessamine Stakes at Keeneland Racecourse in Kentucky.
How Many Races Are There & Which Are the Biggest?
The calibre of races within the series is of the highest order. There are over 60 that take place each year and whilst they do sometimes chop and change, they schedule has remained pretty constant over the last few years.
Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe
One of the biggest of the races has to be that of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. The race has been running since 1920 at takes place at the famous Longchamp Racecourse in Paris. It’s undoubtedly one of the most iconic racing venues in the world and has had all the greats ride there at some point.
The race is a Group 1 race and is run over 1 ½ mile. It comes with a colossus purse of €5 million, with €2,857,000 of that money going to first place. Some of the best horses to have won the race include Enable, Treve, Alleged, Workforce, Sea the Stars and Gold River.
The winner gets entry into the Longains Turf classification for the Breeders Cup.
Prince of Wales’s Stakes
The Prince of Wales’s Stakes is one of the biggest races at the Royal Ascot meeting at Ascot Racecourse. It’s run in June over a distance of 1m 1f and is open to horses aged 4 and up. It comes with a purse of £750,000, but it’s often seen as great base board for horses that go over and do well at the Breeders Cup and other slightly more illustrious races.
The race has been running since 1862, making it one of the oldest Group 1 races in the world, since it was promoted in 2000. The Prince of Wales’s Stakes winner will get entry into the Turf Sprint category.
Jockey Club Gold Cup
The Jockey Club Gold Cup is one of the oldest races in the US and has been running since 1919. It’s ran at Belmont Park and comes as part of the of the spring meeting. The race is overshadowed somewhat by the Breeders’ Cup classic that is run just after, but some of the great horses have had success here in the past, including Easy Goer, Skip Away, Forego, War Admiral and of course, Kelso who has won the race on 5 separate occasions, more than any other horse.
The race comes with a $1million and is a feeder into the Longines Classic at the Breeders Cup.
About the Breeders’ Cup
Held annually since 1984, the Breeders’ Cup is seen as one of the biggest race meetings in the world. It’s run over two days in November and is a celebration of the best flat racing thoroughbreds of the season. Initially the meeting was held over a single day, but now it’s spread over 2 days, running on the Friday and then on the Saturday. It’s the Saturday that has the bulk of the races though, with over $22 million of the $30 million purse for the weekend being awarded on the Saturday.
Prize money for each race will vary from $1 million up to $6 million for the pinnacle race, the Breeders’ Cup Classic. What’s unique about the meeting is that it’s held at a range of racecourses all over the US. These include the likes of Churchill Downs, Santa Anita Park Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, Belmont Park, Hollywood Park and Woodbine.