Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Breeders' Cup Challenge, a global series of 68 automatic qualifying races for the Breeders' Cup World Championships, will feature 15 new Grade or Group 1 races this year, with the Breeders’ Cup paying entry fees and providing travel allowances for the winning connections into the Championships, it was announced today by Breeders’ Cup officials. Click on link for complete schedule. 

The expanded Challenge series, now in its fifth year, will be held at many of the world’s premier racetracks in the US, Canada, Argentina, Australia, England France, Ireland and Japan. This year’s series began in Australia with two races at Royal Randwick. Black Caviar won the Darley TJ Smith Stakes (G1) on April 9 and earned an automatic berth into the $1 million Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (gr. II), and the 6-year-old mare Sacred Choice won the Emirates Doncaster Mile (G1) last Saturday to earn a "Win and You're In" berth into the $2 million TVG Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. I). The first North American race of the series will be the Metropolitan Handicap (gr. I) at Belmont Park on May 30, for a starting position in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (gr. I).

The 2011 US Challenge races will be televised on ESPN, TVG and HRTV and on TSN in Canada.

This year’s Breeders' Cup World Championships will be held November 4-5 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., and will be televised live on ABC and ESPN.

Among the highlights of this year’s series are:
As part of the enhanced benefits program for Breeders’ Cup Challenge winners introduced this year, the Breeders’ Cup will pay the entry fees of all Challenge winners starting in the Championships and provide a travel allowance of $20,000 to the winning connections of each Challenge winner from outside of North America and a $10,000 travel allowance for winners of Challenge races held in North America. The Challenge winner must be nominated to the Breeders’ Cup program by the Championships’ pre-entry deadline of October 24 to receive the rewards.

The 2011 series will feature 51 Group 1, American Grade I or Canadian Grade 1 races, an increase of 15 Grade I or Group 1 events over last year. 

There will be six automatic berths in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic. The Classic qualifiers, all Grade I, begin on July 9 with the Hollywood Gold Cup from Hollywood Park; followed by the Haskell Invitational from Monmouth Park on July 31; the Whitney from Saratoga on August 6; the Pacific Classic from Del Mar on August 28 and the Jockey Club Gold Cup from Belmont Park and the Goodwood Handicap from Santa Anita Park, both on October. 1. The Hollywood Gold Cup, the Haskell, and Jockey Club Gold Cup are new races in the Challenge series. Last year, Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) winner Blame, who defeated Zenyatta by a head in one of history’s greatest races, qualified for the Championships with his victory in the Whitney.

There will be 18 Challenge races held overseas, including 10 new events. Among those new events are the first-ever Challenge races in Argentina and Japan.  The Classico Belgrano (G2) (Marathon) will be run at Palermo Race Course in Buenos Aires on June 18. The Takarazuka Kinen (G1) (Turf) will be run at Hanshin Racecourse on June 26. Also new to the series this year are the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud (G1) (Turf) in France on June 26; the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (Turf) from Ascot on July 24 and the Qatar Petroleum Prix de L ‘Opera (Filly & Mare Turf)  from Longchamp on October 2. 

Also new this year, breeders of Challenge winners will benefit as the Breeders’ Cup will pay a $10,000 award to the nominator of each Challenge race winner.

To ensure that the world’s best horses can compete in the Challenge series and the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Breeders’ Cup is offering a special one-time “Open Enrollment” program this year. The Open Enrollment program, which ends on June 30, is available to any non-nominated horse anywhere in the world as long as the sire is Breeders’ Cup nominated in 2011. Non-nominated horses can be made fully eligible according to the following Open Enrollment fee schedule: yearlings for $3,000, two-year-olds for $6,000 and three-year-olds and up for $25,000.  

“We have strengthened the Breeders’ Cup Challenge by upgrading the quality of the races and creating greater incentives for horsemen to participate in the series by paying the winners’ entry fees and travel expenses into the Championships,” said Clem Murphy, chairman of the Breeders’ Cup Racing and Nominations Committee. “All of these factors will help to generate increased awareness for our Championships throughout the summer and fall while promoting the best of Thoroughbred racing from around the world.”

In addition to the Hollywood Gold Cup, Jockey Club Gold Cup and Haskell, other new grade 1 races in North America joining the series this year are the Shoemaker Mile (Mile) at Hollywood Park on July 2; the Hopeful Stakes (Juvenile) at Saratoga on Sept. 5; and fall races at Belmont Park on Oct. 1: the Beldame (Ladies’ Classic); Flower Bowl Invitational (Filly & Mare Turf); Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (Turf) and the Vosburgh (Sprint).

Among the Group 1 returning races from Europe are the Prix Haras de Fresnay-Le-Buffard Jacques le Marois (Mile) from Deauville on Aug.15, the Irish Champion Stakes from Leopardstown (Turf) on Sept. 3 and the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (Mile) from Ascot on Oct. 15.