The breeders cup is the culmination of a season long series of high class horse races. Since 1984 this race has been a one day showpiece. In 2006 it was changed to its current format of 15 races. Held in November the races are split over two days.
In racing all races are graded except the new Juvenile Sprint. Graded races showcase the best of equine talents with Grade One consisting of the truly elite. If a horse lands a grade one its value increases exponentially as a stallion or a broodmare.
The Breeders Cup is the second most extravagant racing event in the world, with the second day purse reaching almost $17 million; it is overshadowed only by the Dubai World Cup. This race was designed to attract the best horses and jockeys from across the world, competing against each other many winners of the Breeders Cup have been granted an almost immortal status in horse racing.
To ensure that only the best horses can participate in the Breeders Cup, there is a strict selection process. Most race tracks have a field of 14 racers, with the exception of the Dirt Mile which will only field 12 racers. There are also pre-entry and entry fees that will typically total $50,000-$100,000 dollars. The organizers of the race have also put into place a series of “challenge races”; the winners of these high level races are guaranteed a place in the Breeders Cup. These races include premier European and Australian races.
As an added incentive to get European heavyweights to participate in this race the Breeders Cup organizers offer packages that will pay entry fees and travel expenses to the trainer and owner of a horse that has won a challenge race.
The prize money offered at the Breeders Cup is lacking when compared to the prize-money offered at many European and Asian races combine that with controversies surrounding the racing leagues in North America means that the lure of the Breeders Cup is not as strong as it may have been in the past. Typically American races are much tighter than their counterparts in Europe and Asia. This has led to a decline in European participation in the Breeders Cup, which is something the organizers are striving to counteract.
The last race of the Breeders Cup, the Breeders Classic has become the highlight of the two day event, with its $5million dollar prize this ten furlong contest on dirt is one of the most esteemed and richest races in the world. In the history of the Classic there has only ever been one horse that has won the race multiple times, Tiznow in 2000 and 2001, this is due to the fact that only the elite run in the race and it is very hard to be better than the best in the sport more than once. This race has added to the reputation of all-time greats like Curlin and Cigar when they had spectacular wins of this race.
Over the course of the races history there have been a lot of upsets, with the biggest coming in 1993 when Arcangues pulled off a win despite odds of nearly 135/1. In the history of the race there has also only been one mare to win, she was the great Zenyatta in 2009, and however the following year she was defeated in the renewal. This was a devastating blow considering this mare arrived at Churchill downs as not only the favorite for the win, but on the back of a 19 race winning streak. Hoping to finish out the season with a perfect 20/20, the jockey Mike Smith delayed his challenge a moment to long, and despite mowing down most of the field in the final straight, the pair were not able to overcome Blame who won by an ever decreasing lead. At a press conference after the race Smith broke down, and many fans have refused to forgive him for tarnishing the record of one of the all-time greats in the history of the sport.
The Breeders cup has added to the pedigree of many trainers and jockeys however the US legends Jerry Bailey and Mike Smith have 15 Breeders Cup wins on their resume, which is the most among riding ranks. Further Darrel Wayne Lucas has trained the winner of 18 Breeders’ Cups, holding a record that doesn’t look to be beat with the runner-up having only trained the winner of 9 races.