The Breeders’ Cup is a world championship event unlike any in sport. Conceived in the early 80′s with the idea of crowning true thoroughbred champions in each division of racing, the inaugural Breeders’ Cup was hosted in 1984 at Hollywood Park in Los Angeles. Since its inception, the Breeders’ Cup has grown in popularity and scope, gaining favor among international trainers and becoming the true end-of-year destination for the connections of elite American racehorses.
Breeders’ Cup Entries
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The 13 races are classified by division, age, gender, and specialty. The Breeders’ Cup Classic is the signature race of the event and was offered for a purse of $6 million in 2016. The other races are:
The annual event is hosted at different North American racetracks, with Santa Anita Park and Churchill Downs playing host to more Breeders’ Cups than any other track. The event has also been hosted at Belmont Park, Lone Star Park, Gulfstream Park, Monmouth Park, Keeneland, and Woodbine. In 2007, the Breeders’ Cup expanded to two days with the inception of new events such as the Dirt Mile, Turf Sprint, Juvenile Fillies Turf, and Juvenile Turf. As of late 2016, there was a total of 13 Breeders’ Cup races worth a combined $28 million in purses.
In many cases, winners of Breeders’ Cup races go on to earn horse of the year honors in their respective divisions. Most fields are limited to 14 runners with the exception of the Dirt Mile which is limited to 12. Horses qualify for entry for a Breeders’ Cup Race throughout the year by earning points and competing in races designated as “Win & You’re In” events.
Breeders’ Cup Picks
With the transient nature of the Breeders’ Cup, it is important to have a solid understanding of the racetrack hosting the event. Entire race configurations can change based solely on location.
For example, the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile is a one-turn race at Belmont and Churchill, but would be contested at two-turn at Santa Anita, Monmouth or Keeneland. Similarly, the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint was 5.5 furlongs when hosted at Keeneland in 2015, but is always 6.5 furlongs at Santa Anita. In addition to noting the configuration of the race, it’s equally crucial to note the unique surfaces of the hosting track. Everyday horse players realize that not all dirt or turf surfaces are created equal. The dirt at Belmont, for example, is deep and punishing, while the Santa Anita dirt is packed more tightly allowing horses to skip over the top of its smoothness.
Regardless of where the Breeders’ Cup is held, the event always offers the best two betting days of the year. With ample field size, quality and depth, the Breeders’ Cup provides the ultimate challenge for horse players along with a chance for significant monetary reward. While generalizing is difficult to do, the Sprint, Turf Mile, Turf Sprint, and Filly & Mare Turf always seem to present the most difficult handicapping challenge.
In these events, several notable longshots have managed to find the winner’s circle on the big day. On Breeders’ Cup weekend, the win odds are more generous and the exotic pools are more abundant due to the large handle of wagering dollars from all over the world.
Breeders’ Cup Results
Anytime the best of the best compete head-to-head, the storylines and memories are plentiful. The Breeders’ Cup has certainly had more than its share of heart-pounding finishes, upsets, tragedies, and triumphs. While much debatable,Zenyatta losing by a nose to Blame in 2010 Classic is one of the most memorable BC races in the event’s history. Perhaps the greatest mare of all time, Zenyatta entered the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic a perfect 19 for 19 and had already won the 2008 Breeders’ Cup Distaff and became the first female horse to ever win the BC Classic in 2009.
Racing on conventional dirt for just the second time in her career, the superstar fell back 20 lengths in the early stages of the race and looked hopelessly defeated. In the stretch, however, she found her best stride and began to gain rapidly on Blame who had been defeated just once that year. Her valiant rally fell just a nose shy of becoming one of the greatest victories of all-time.