Countdown to the Cup

How It Works

Before the best can race, we need to determine who the best are. There are a few ways for a horse to qualify for a Breeders’ Cup race. The first is by winning a Breeders’ Cup Challenge race, which you can learn more about here. The second is based on a points system, where horses are ranked based on their performance in major races during the year. Points are awarded based on the following scale:

Race Quality Win Place Show
Grade 1 10 6 4
Grade 2 6 4 2
Grade 3 4 2 1

The third way to gain entry is to be selected by a panel of experts. For each race, there are a maximum of 14 horses selected for each Breeders’ Cup Championship race. Seven who come from the Challenge races and points system and seven who have been selected by the experts. This ensures the highest quality of competition.

How much do they win?

The Breeders’ Cup is the richest two days in sports, with $26 million paid out in purses and awards over the entire weekend. Winnings are paid out to owners, stallion nominators, and foal nominators. Owners share their winnings with their trainer and jockey on their own terms.

Purse Distributions Percentages:

Official Finish Owner Purse
1st 55.0%
2nd 18.0%
3rd 10.0%
4th 6.0%
5th 3.0%
Travel Awards* 8.0%

*Travel Awards: $10,000 is awarded to all non-California starters in North America and $40,000 is awarded to all starters outside of North America.

Example: Breeders’ Cup Classic

$5 Million Gross Purse

Official Finish Owner Purse Travel Awards
1st $2,750,000
2nd $900,000
3rd $500,000
4th $300,000
5th $150,000
Total:
$5,000,000 $4,600,000 $400,000

Nominator Awards

Foal and stallion Nominators are paid awards based on purse value and finishes of first, second, third or fourth.

Horse Eligibility and Race Fees

Horses that are nominated to Breeders’ Cup and are eligible for Breeders’ Cup Championships races must pay entry fees as indicated. No horse can be pre-entered for more than two races. When a horse is preentered for two races, the required pre-entry payment must be for the race of greatest value, regardless of whether it is the race of first preference. Pre-entry fees are 1% of the purse and are due by Noon (local time) on October 20, 2014. Entry fees are 1% of the purse and are due by 10:00 a.m. (local time) on October 27, 2014. Horses not nominated as weanlings may be nominated at any time during their racing careers (Horses of Racing Age Nominations). To check a horse’s eligibility or to nominate as a Horse of Racing Age online please go to http://members.breederscup.com.

Field Selection System

A maximum of 14 starters are allowed in each of the fourteen Breeders’ Cup Championships races*. 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 upon (i) wins in Breeders’ Cup Challenge Races, (ii) a point system, and (iii) the judgment of a panel of racing experts. The field selection system will be implemented as necessary following the taking of pre-entries on October 20, 2014, to officially rank the oversubscribed fields. The Racing Directors/Secretaries Panel (the “Panel”) will rank all the horses pre-entered in the oversubscribed races as described below. After pre-entry, any vacancies in the fields will be filled by horses in order of panel preference.

*Dirt Mile starts 12.

Breeders’ Cup Graded Stakes Points

Specific point values are assigned to first, second and third-place finishes in stakes throughout the United States and/or Canada from January 1 through the pre-entry deadline date October 20, 2014 that have been granted Graded status by the American Graded Stakes Committee of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association and/or by the Jockey Club of Canada. International Group races have no point value.

Race Quality Win Place Show
Grade 1 10 6 4
Grade 2 6 4 2
Grade 3 4 2 1

Based on this system, win, place and show horses in Grade I stakes earn ten, six and four points, respectively. The top three finishers in Grade II stakes earn six, four and two points respectively, and in Grade III races the points earned are four, two and one, respectively. Except for the four two-year old Championships races, Graded Stakes Points for dirt races will be the only points considered for horses pre-entered in dirt Championships Races and Graded Stakes Points for turf races will be the only points considered for horses pre-entered in Turf Championships races. All Graded Stakes Points will be considered for the four two-year old Championship Races.

Selection Procedures

In the case of an oversubscribed fourteen horse field, the first horse(s) selected will be the winner(s) of Breeders’ Cup Challenge Races in the corresponding Breeders’ Cup division, the next horses will be ranked at pre-entry based on the total number of Graded Stakes points they have collected during the year until a total of seven horses have been ranked based on Breeders’ Cup Challenge Races and Graded Stakes Points. All horses will need to accumulate a minimum of six (6) points in American and/or Canadian Graded Stakes Races to be considered to receive an automatic selection on points in any Championship race with the exception of the four Juvenile races. In the four Juvenile races, horses will need to accumulate a minimum of four (4) points in American and/or Canadian Graded Stakes races to be considered to receive an automatic selection on points.  

The horses remaining after the first seven in oversubscribed fourteen horse fields at the time of pre-entry will be ranked in order of preference by the Panel. The Panel will be free to establish its own criteria or ranking, so that high-quality horses of demonstrated ability will have the opportunity to participate in Championship Races regardless of earlier participation in graded events.   Horses will be allowed to pre-enter a maximum of two races. The races in which the horse pre-enters must be designated in order of choice at the time of pre-entry on October 20, 2014. Performance in Breeders’ Cup Challenge Races and points earned in American Graded Stakes Races and/or Canadian Graded Stakes Races have no bearing on a given Championships Race field unless the race is oversubscribed (more than fourteen pre-entered).   Once a horse has been ranked among the first fourteen horses in its race of first choice at pre-entry, its ranking in its race of second choice will be based first on whether it won a Breeders’ Cup Challenge race in the division for the second choice and then on the judgment of the Panel regardless of the number of points earned in American and/or Canadian Graded Stakes Races. If a horse is not ranked among the first fourteen horses in its race of first choice and it did not win a Challenge race in its division of second choice, then its points earned in American and/or Canadian Graded Stakes Races will be utilized for ranking in its race of second choice.

‘Ties’ at Pre-Entry

In the event more than fourteen horses are pre-entered in a particular Championship Race and two or more horses are tied for the seventh highest number of American and/or Canadian Graded Stakes Races points at the time of pre-entry, the Panel shall decide which of those horses shall be the seventh highest point earner. Horses not selected shall then be ranked in order of preference by the Panel at its discretion.  

Pre-Entry Rankings

The Panel will issue a list of all horses ranked in order of preference for each Championships Race that is oversubscribed at the time of pre-entry. After pre-entry, any vacancies in the fields of oversubscribed races will be filled by horses in the Panel’s order of preference as determined at pre-entry.

For more information on how to pre-enter a horse in the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, please visit our Members' Website or email bcracing@breederscup.com.

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