The Breeders’ Cup Challenge series will be expanding to Japan this year. The Breeders’ Cup and the Japan Racing Association announced that the Takarazuka Kinen, a group I stakes run June 26 at Hanshin Racecourse in Japan, has joined the international Breeders’ Cup Challenge, a global series of stakes whose winners earn automatic starting positions into the Breeders’ Cup World Championships. This year’s Breeders’ Cup will be held Nov. 4-5 at Churchill Downs in Louisville.
The winner of the 52nd running of the Takarazuka Kinen, which will be run at 1 3/8 miles on the turf for 3-year-olds and up, will automatically qualify for a berth in the $3 million Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. I), which will be run at 1 1/2 miles on the turf. The Breeders’ Cup World Championships consists of 14 races conducted over two days with total purses of $26 million.
As part of the enhanced benefits program for Breeders’ Cup Challenge winners introduced this year, the Breeders’ Cup will pay the entry fees of $90,000 and a travel allowance of $20,000 to the winner of the Takarazuka Kinen to start in the Breeders’ Cup Turf. The Takarazuka Kinen winner must be nominated to the Breeders’ Cup by the Championships’ pre-entry deadline of Oct. 24 to receive the rewards.
“Breeders’ Cup is honored that the Takarazuka Kinen, as one of the world’s greatest turf races, is included in the 2011 Challenge series,” said Greg Avioli, President and CEO of Breeders’ Cup Ltd. “I would like to extend a personal thank you to Dr. Kenji Tsuchikawa and the JRA management team for their efforts that resulted in this landmark agreement providing for the first ever Breeders’ Cup Challenge race in Japan.”
Last year, Japanese group I winners Espoir City and Red Desire both competed in the Breeders’ Cup World Championships.
As a further expansion of the JRA and Breeders’ Cup partnership, this year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf winner will be given an automatic berth in the Japan Cup (Jpn-I) Nov. 27 at Tokyo Racecourse, and will be eligible for up to a $1 million bonus in addition to prize money based upon a top three finish in the Japan Cup.
“We are very pleased that the Takarazuka Kinen has become the first ever Japanese race to be a part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge series and we are delighted to join with so many other outstanding races from around the world in the program,” said Dr. Kenji Tsuchikawa, president and CEO of the Japan Racing Association. “Over the years, the Takarazuka Kinen has been won by many outstanding horses, and we would be very excited if this year’s winner participated in the Breeders’ Cup Turf. The winner of the Breeders’ Cup Turf is included in the list of horses eligible for the Bonus System for our Japan Cup, and the winner will also receive an automatic invitation to the race.”
In addition to Japan, Breeders’ Cup Challenge races this year will be held in the United States, Canada, Hong Kong, England, Ireland, France, Argentina, and Australia. The complete 2011 Challenge schedule will be announced in March.