LEXINGTON, Ky. (October 21, 2015) – Led by Triple Crown winner AMERICAN PHAROAH, TVG Pacific Classic winner and two-time Breeders’ Cup champion mare BEHOLDER and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner GOLDEN HORN (GB), an international cast of 200 of the world’s best Thoroughbreds, including 32 from overseas, have been pre-entered for the 2015 Breeders’ Cup World Championships.
The 32nd Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Thoroughbred racing’s most prestigious global event, consisting of 13 grade one races with purses and awards totaling $26 million, will be held for the first time at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Kentucky, on Friday, October 30 and Saturday, October 31. There will be four Breeders’ Cup races on Championship Friday and nine Breeders’ Cup races on Championship Saturday.
The Breeders’ Cup will be televised live by NBCSN and NBC. The $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic will be broadcast live at 5:35 p.m. ET on NBC (4-6 p.m. ET).
Among the statistical highlights in this year’s pre-entries are that a total of 10 races are oversubscribed with more than 14 (or 12 in the Filly & Mare Turf and Dirt Mile). There are a record 44 horses who have qualified for automatic starting positions through the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series that are pre-entered. Chad Brown has pre-entered 14 horses, the most among trainers, and the Coolmore partnerships lead all owners with 10 horses pre-entered.
The $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, the climactic event of the Championships, will be run on the main track at 1 ¼ miles with a first-place owner’s prize of $2.75 million. A field of 10 horses with a combined 29 grade/group one career victories, has been pre-entered, led by Zayat Stable’s American Pharoah, who captivated the American sporting scene this year by becoming the first horse in 37 years to win the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes. Trained by Bob Baffert and ridden by Victor Espinoza, American Pharoah is seeking to become the first horse to win racing’s “Grand Slam”, sweeping the Triple Crown and the Breeders’ Cup Classic in the same year. American Pharoah, who has won 6 of his 7 starts this year, including wins in the Rebel Stakes (G2), Arkansas Derby (G1) and the William Haskell Invitational (G1), is slated to run his last race in the Classic and will be retired to Ashford Stud.
The Classic will be the first time in his career that American Pharoah will be facing older horses, and the most formidable of them appears to be B. Wayne Hughes’s 5-year-old mare Beholder. Trained by Richard Mandella, Beholder can become the first horse in history to win three different Breeders’ Cup races and the first female to win the Classic since Zenyatta in 2009. A daughter of Henny Hughes, ridden by Gary Stevens, Beholder won the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and the 2013 Distaff. She was sidelined prior to last year’s Distaff, but has come back this year stronger than ever, winning all five of her starts this year, including a dominant win over male rivals in the 1 ¼ mile TVG Pacific Classic (G1) at Del Mar in August by more than eight lengths. She comes into the Classic with an easy win in the Zenyatta Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita against her own gender by 3 ¼ lengths. She has won 15 of 20 starts and has more than $4.4 million in career earnings.
The only horse to defeat American Pharoah this year is Donegal Racing’s 3-year-old KEEN ICE, who collared the Triple Crown winner a few yards from the wire in the Travers Stakes (G1) at Saratoga for trainer Dale Romans. Godolphin Racing’s 3-year-old FROSTED, trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, also brings solid credentials into the Classic, with a two-length victory in the Pennsylvania Derby on September 19. The gray/roan son of Tapit won the Wood Memorial (G1) in April and followed that with a fourth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby, a second in the Belmont Stakes and a third-place finish in the Travers Stakes after pressing American Pharoah most of the way.
Another 3-year-old from Ireland brings international intrigue to the Classic in Michael Tabor, Mrs. John Magnier and Derrick’s Smith’s GLENEAGLES (IRE). A bay son of Galileo, trained by Aidan O’Brien, Gleneagles had finished first in seven consecutive races since June of last year, including five group one events, punctuated in 2015 by victories in the English and Irish Guineas, and the St. James’s Palace at Royal Ascot on June. Scratched twice from major stakes due to soft ground, Gleneagles returned just last Saturday with a sixth place finish in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.
Four older horses earned their way into the Classic with wins in Breeders’ Cup Challenge races: Lane’s End Racing and Dell Ridge Farm’ 4-year-old HONOR CODE, winner of the Whitney (G1) at Saratoga for trainer Shug McGaughey; Hronis Racing’s 5-year-old HARD ACES, who captured the Gold Cup at Santa Anita; Lucky Charm Stable’s 4-year-old gelding SMOOTH ROLLER, a five length winner of the Awesome Again Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita Park and Robert S. Evans’s 2014 Belmont Stakes winner TONALIST, who won the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) at Belmont Park for the second consecutive year. Tri-bone Stables 4-year-old EFFINEX, winner of the Suburban Handicap (G2) at Belmont also is pre-entered for the Classic.
“We are very excited by the remarkable quality and depth of our international fields for this year’s World Championships, led by the top rated horse in North America with American Pharoah and the most accomplished horse in Europe this year in Golden Horn,” said Craig Fravel, Breeders’ Cup President and CEO. “With such intense interest focused on having the first Triple Crown winner to attempt a victory in the Classic against a dominant mare in Beholder and a solid group of 3-year-olds and older horses, is a race that will capture the imagination of sports fans around the world in a terrific setting at Keeneland.”
Anthony Oppenheimer’s 3-year-old Golden Horn has been the top horse in Europe this year, and is the clear standout in the $3 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf at 1 ½ miles, which will directly precede the Classic on Championship Saturday. Trained by John Gosden, Golden Horn has won 7-of-8 lifetime starts, including four outstanding group one events in the Investec Derby, the Coral Eclipse, QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes, and a tour de force in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp this month. A victory in the Turf would make Golden Horn the first horse to win both the Arc and the Breeders’ Cup Turf.
Other top runners pre-entered in the Turf from Europe are Sheikh Mohammad Obaid al Maktoum’s 4-year-old POSTPONED, winner of the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (G1) and the 3-year-old filly FOUND (IRE) who has run hard against males all year and earned second-place finishes in a trio of group one races, the Coronation Stakes, Irish Champion Stakes to Golden Horn and most recently the QIPCO Champion Stakes at Ascot. The American contingent is led by two-time grade one winner BIG BLUE KITTEN for the Ramsey Stable, who captured two Breeders’ Cup Challenge race in the United Nations at Monmouth Park and the Turf Classic at Belmont Park in his last start. Midwest Thoroughbred’s hard knocking 6-year-old gelding THE PIZZA MAN qualified for the Turf by taking the “Win and You’re In” Arlington Million (G1) by a neck over Big Blue Kitten.
Flaxman Holding’s (Niarchos Family) KARAKONTIE (JPN), is back to defend his title in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Mile at one mile on the turf course. The 4-year-old son of Bernstein has made just two starts this year, and was most recently second in the Prix de Moulin de Longchamp on September 15. Top Europeans for the Mile also include two stars from trainer Andre Fabre, the 5-year-old mare ESOTERIQUE (IRE), who has posted back-to-back group one scores in the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville and the Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket, and the French 2000 Guineas winner MAKE BELIEVE (GB), a 3-year-old colt who also won the Prix de la Foret at Longchamp on October 4. Two American horses pre-entered for the Mile were very impressive in their most recent starts at Keeneland. Susan and Jim Hill’s GRAND ARCH captured the grade one Shadwell Turf Mile over The Pizza Man, and Robert Masterson’s 4-year-old filly TEPIN was a seven-length winner in the one mile First Lady Stakes, her second grade one win of the year, having taken the Just a Game at Belmont Park in June.
Friday’s headline event is the $2 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff at 1 1/8 miles for fillies and mares, 3-years-old and up. A wide-open race with 16 horses pre-entered, could settle titles in either the 3-year-old Filly or Older Female divisions. Harold Queen’s 5-year-old mare SHEER DRAMA, trained by David Fawkes, comes into the race with consecutive grade one wins in the Delaware Handicap and the “Win and You’re In” Personal Ensign at Saratoga on August 29. Godolphin’s 5-year-old mare WEDDING TOAST has won has won 4 of 6 starts this year, including her last three for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. The dark bay or brown daughter of Street Sense won the Ruffian and Ogden Phipps in the spring and returned from to Belmont after nearly a three-month break to win the 1 1/8-mile Beldame wire-to-wire.
Ron Winchell’s homebred and defending Distaff winner UNTAPABLE, has won just once in six starts this year, capturing Oaklawn’s Apple Blossom (G1) this spring. The 4-year-old daughter of Tapit made a strong effort in her final prep, finishing second by a neck to the 4-year-old GOT LUCKY in the Juddmonte Spinster (G1) at Keeneland. Got Lucky, owned by Hill N’ Dale Equine Holdings and trained by Todd Pletcher, has won 4 of 7 starts this year, and was also second to Sheer Drama in the Personal Ensign.
Town and Country Farm’s STOPCHARGINGMARIA, who beat Untapable in Saratoga’s Shuvee (G3) in August for Pletcher, will warrant respect, while FRIVOLOUS, MY SWEET ADDICTION, WARREN’S VENEDA and YAHILWA have all won graded stakes this year.
Fletcher and Carolyn Gray’s 3-year-old I’M A CHATTERBOX netted a long overdue grade I win when she annexed Parx Racing’s Cotillion September 19 for trainer Larry Jones, which helped erase the disappointment in the Coaching Club American Oaks (G1), when she won the race but was disqualified for stretch interference. The daughter of Munnings is 5-for-10 lifetime and would assuredly secure a championship with a Distaff win. SALAMA, a Kentucky-bred who has raced in Peru and gained a “Win and You’re In” berth into the Distaff in the Clasico Cesar del Rio (GIII) at Hipódromo de Monterrico June 21, is back in the U.S., and under the care of trainer Charlie LoPresti. Beholder has also been pre-entered in the Distaff as a second preference.
Also on Friday’s program is the $1 million Las Vegas Dirt Mile, featuring the front-running LIAM’S MAP for Teresa Viola Stables. Trained by Todd Pletcher, the 4-year-old son of 1995 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Unbridled’s Song was beaten in the last jump by Honor Code in Saratoga’s “Win and You’re In” Whitney (GI) in August, and then won the Woodward (GI) by 4 3/4 lengths on September 5. Gary Barber’s APPEALING TALE has won his last two races in the Pat O’Brien (G2) at Del Mar and the Kelso (G2) at Belmont Park.
In the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf, run at 1 3/16 miles, Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey’s homebred STEPHANIE’S’ KITTEN, who finished second in last year’s race, has returned. The 6-year-old mare by Kitten’s Joy, who won the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, comes into this year’s event off a 1 ½ length victory in the Flower Bowl (G1) at Belmont Park. The first two finishers from Arlington’s Beverly D.: the 5-year-old mare WATSDACHANCES (IRE), who was moved into first place due to interference by Qatar Racing’s SECRET GESTURE (GB) from Great Britain. Another European standout is Michael Tabor, Mrs. John Magnier and Derrick Smith’s 3-year-old filly LEGATISSIMO (IRE), winner of three group one races this year, beginning with the QIPCO 1000 Guineas in May, and then consecutive wins in the Qatar Nassau Stakes at Goodwood and the “Win and You’re In” Coolmore Fastnet Rock Stakes at Newmarket.
The $1.5 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint is oversubscribed with 21 horses pre-entered. Run at six furlongs, the Sprint could have big favorite in Jim McIngvale’s RUNHAPPY, who earned an automatic berth into the race with a win in Keeneland’s “Win and You’re In” Keenon Stoll Ogden Phoenix (GIII) October 2 for trainer Maria Borell. The 3-year-old son of Super Saver is 5-for-6 lifetime, but 5-for-5 around one turn and also won Saratoga’s King’s Bishop (GI) in August. Stiff competition should come from a trio of “Win and You’re In” Challenge winners in PJG Stable’s FAVORITE TALE, who won Gulfstream Park’s Smile Sprint (GII) in July for trainer Guadalupe Preciado, Good Friends Stable’s PRIVATE ZONE, who won Saratoga’s Forego (GI) August 29, and trainer Jerry Hollendorfer and Green Smith’s WILD DUDE, who earned a berth in both Del Mar’s Bing Crosby (GI) in July and Santa Anita’s Sprint Championship (GI) October 3.
The female complement to the Sprint is Saturday’s $1 million, seven-furlong Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint, which will be headlined by Lady Sheila Stable’s LA VERDAD, who is 5-for-5 this year for trainer Linda Rice and 15-for-21 overall. The 5-year-old daughter of Yes It’s True has won a quartet of stakes this year, including her comeback in Belmont’s Gallant Bloom (GII) September 26.Stonestreet Stable’s CAVORTING, who has won three straight, including Saratoga’s Test (GI) in August for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin; trainer Wesley Ward’s defending champion JUDY THE BEAUTY, who is winless in three starts this year but was a troubled third in the Thoroughbred Club of America and a pair of Challenge winners in Two Hearts Farm and Don Janes’ FIORETTI, who won the local “Win and You’re In” Thoroughbred Club of America (GII) October 3 for trainer Anthony Hamilton and William Parsons and David Howe’s MERRY MEADOW, who won Gulfstream’s “Win and You’re In” Princess Rooney (GII) in July.
The $1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, run at 5 ½ furlongs, has the first two finishers in the recent Buffalo Trace Franklin County Stakes at Keeneland. Lael Stable’s 6-year-old AGELESS, a 3-of-5 winner this year, finished just a head in front of Ranlo Investments’s 3-year-old filly Lady Shipman. The latter, trained by Kathleen O’Connell, has won 7-of-9 starts in 2015 against her gender. Defending champion BOBBY’S KITTEN has returned, but has been off the board in his two starts this year, most recently a seventh-place finish in the Shadwell Turf Mile.
The 1 1/16-mile $2 million Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and the $2 million 14 Hands Winery Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies will offer exciting clashes between the best of California, New York and Kentucky.
The Juvenile has four “Win and You’re In” Challenge winners— NYQUIST, BRODY’S CAUSE, COCKED AND LOADED, GREENPOINTCRUSADER. Owned by J. Paul Reddam and trained by Doug O’Neill, Nyquist is 4-for-4, but coming off a tough win over SWIPE in Santa Anita’s FrontRunner (GI) September 26. The son of Uncle Mo was an easy winner of Del Mar’s Best Pal (GII) and Futurity (GI) this summer at Del Mar. Albaugh Family Stable’s Brody’s Cause closed strongly to win in the local Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (GI) October 3 for trainer Dale Romans. Richard Ravin and Patricia’s Hope Stable’s Cocked and Loaded hasn’t started since winning Churchill’s Iroquois (GIII) September 12. The son of Colonel John is 3-for-5 lifetime but has added appeal in that the Iroquois was his first two-turn start. St. Elias Stable, MeB Racing Stable and Brooklyn Boyz Stable’s Greenpointcrusader could be the most intriguing runner, as he’s yet to run at two turns but enters off a powerful win in Belmont’s Champagne (GI) October 3 for trainer Dominick Schettino. The son of Bernardini is 2-for-3 lifetime and showed in the Champagne that he can handle a sloppy track, should there be an off-track.
The Juvenile Fillies could shape up into an exciting matchup between unbeatens in SONGBIRD and RACHEL’S VALENTINA. Fox Hill Farm’s Songbird has been the most accomplished 2-year-old filly in the country and should be favored for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. The daughter of Medaglia d’Oro has been untested in all three wins, including dominant wins in the Del Mar Debutante (GI) in September and “Win and You’re In” Chandelier (GI) at Santa Anita September 26.
Stonestreet Stable’s homebred Rachel’s Valentina was long on everyone’s radar before she even made her career debut for trainer Todd Pletcher, as she’s by Bernardini out of 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra. On the track it’s been clear Rachel’s Valentina has picked up where her parents left off, as she’s 2-for-2 and earned an automatic bid into the Juvenile Fillies with her win in Saratoga’s “Win and You’re In” Spinaway (GI) September 5.Magdalena Racing’s DOTHRAKI QUEEN, who was second in the Darley Alcibiades at Keeneland, and earned an automatic Juvenile Fillies bid with her win in Churchill Downs’ “Win and You’re In” Pocahontas (GII) in September for trainer Kenny McPeek and LNJ Foxwoods’ NICKNAME, who earned a bid in Belmont Park’s “Win and You’re In” Frizette (GI) October 3 for trainer Steve Asmussen, have also been pre-entered.
A maximum of 14 starters are allowed in each of the 13 Breeders’ Cup World Championships races with the exception of the Dirt Mile and the Filly & Mare Turf, which are limited to 12 starters. Breeders’ Cup Limited has adopted a field selection system to select runners in the event fields are oversubscribed. This system ranks horses in order of preference based on (i) Breeders’ Cup Challenge race winners, (ii) a point system, and (iii) the judgment of a panel of racing experts. The field selection system was implemented following the taking of pre-entries on Monday, Ocober 19, to officially rank the oversubscribed fields. The Racing Secretaries and Directors Panel (the “Panel”) ranked all horses pre-entered in the oversubscribed races. After pre-entry, any vacancies in the fields will be filled by horses in order of panel preference. Entry for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships races will be Monday, October 26 by 10 a.m. (ET). At the time of entry, a maximum of 14 horses (or 12) will be accepted for each race based on the order of preference established at pre-entry.
There will be up to two (2) also-eligible horses for each Championship race. The also-eligible horses will be designated in accordance with the Breeders’ Cup Racing Directors/Secretaries Panel’s order of preference for each Championship race that is oversubscribed at the time of pre-entry. Scratch time for all Championships races to be contested on both Championship Friday and Championship Saturday will be 8 a.m. ET, Friday, October 30.