(Edited press release)
The Breeders' Cup Challenge, a series of automatic qualifying races for the $25.5 million 2009 Breeders' Cup World Championships, has expanded to a record 62 races taking place in seven countries.
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The expanded Challenge series, with its “Win and You’re In” provision, will include 12 overseas races from premier racetracks in England, Ireland, France, Australia and Hong Kong. The 2009 Breeders' Cup Challenge races will begin in the U.S. on July 4 with qualifying events from Monmouth Park: the United Nations (gr. II) on turf, and the Salvator Mile (gr. III).
This year’s Breeders' Cup World Championships will be held November 6-7, at the Oak Tree Racing Association meet at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif., and will be televised live on ABC and ESPN.
The Breeders’ Cup Challenge series will again include stakes races at Belmont Park in New York, Del Mar near San Diego, Calder Race Course in Miami, Arlington Park in Chicago, Emerald Downs in Seattle, Delaware Park, Monmouth Park and Philadelphia Park in the Middle Atlantic; Turfway Park and Keeneland in Kentucky; Santa Anita Park and Woodbine in Toronto.
The 2009 Challenge races will be televised on ESPN, TVG and HRTV, TSN in Canada and in more than 120 countries.
The Breeders’ Cup Challenge, which began in 2007 with 25 races at six U.S. racetracks and Sha Tin in Hong Kong, was increased to 57 races at 12 tracks last year. This year, the Breeders’ Cup Challenge will be brought to seven additional international tracks: Longchamp and Deauville in France, The Curragh, Leopardstown and Dundalk in Ireland, Newmarket in England and Moonee Valley in Australia.
In 2008, 34 of the 57 Challenge race winners competed in the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, with five of them returning victorious.
Also this year, 25 races will be enhanced by funds through the Breeders’ Cup Stakes program and the series will feature 32 group or grade I races, including 10 group 1 races overseas.
“In our continuing efforts to maximize the global popularity and competition of the World Championships, we have expanded this year’s Breeders’ Cup Challenge series to more racing venues for our horsemen and fans,” said Breeders’ Cup president and CEO Greg Avioli. “The Breeders’ Cup Challenge creates increased international awareness on a weekly basis from July through October for the world’s great horse races and for the outstanding horses that will be competing in the Championships.”
In the U.S., three races will be automatic qualifiers for starting positions in the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I), beginning Labor Day weekend with the Washington Park Handicap (gr. III) at Arlington Park (Sept. 5), the Pacific Classic Stakes (gr. I) at Del Mar (Sept. 6), followed by the Goodwood Stakes (gr. I) at Santa Anita Park (Oct. 10). The Breeders’ Cup Classic field is limited to 14 starters.
The international Breeders’ Cup Challenge began in April with the Champions Mile (HK-I) in Hong Kong, won by Sight Winner, who earned a starting berth into the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Mile. The first European challenge race of 2009 will be the Audi Pretty Polly Stakes (Ire-I) at The Curragh in Ireland on June 27 for an automatic berth in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf (gr. IT). Among the other new international Challenge races this year are the Tattersalls Million Irish Champion Stakes (Ire-I) at Leopardstown (Sept. 9) and the Emirates Airline Champion Stakes (Eng-1) from Newmarket on Oct. 17, both for starting positions in the $3 million Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. IT); the Moyglare Stud (Ire-1) at The Curragh for a starting position in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf; the Diamond Stakes (Ire-III) at Dundalk for a starting position in the $500,000 Breeders’ Cup Marathon and three automatic qualifiers for the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint:, the Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville (Fra-I) on Aug. 9, the Cleanevent Manikato Stakes (Aus-I) at Moonee Valley in Australia on Sept. 25 and the Qatar Prix de L’Abbaye at Longchamp (Fra-I) on Oct. 4.