The $750,000 United Nations Stakes (gr. IT) and the $250,000 Salvator Mile (gr. III), both run at Monmouth Park on July 4, represent the first state-side races in this year’s international “Win and You’re In” Breeders’ Cup Challenge series.
Under the “Win and You’re In” expanded format, which burgeoned from four international events in 2008 to 12 this year, the first-place finishers in a record 62 designated Breeders’ Cup Challenge races will earn starting positions in a corresponding divisional race in the 14-race, $25.5 million Breeders’ Cup World Championships on Nov. 6-7 at Oak Tree at Santa Anita.
This year, seven countries – the United States, Canada, England, France, Australia, Ireland, and Hong Kong – will participate in Challenge races. The format was introduced in 2007, with 25 races earning their winners automatic qualifying berths. In 2008, 57 such races comprised the “Win and You’re In” schedule.
One June 27, the European leg of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge began in Ireland at The Curragh with the Audi Pretty Polly Stakes (Ire-I). Lord Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s Dar Re Mi became the first European horse to qualify for the Breeders’ Cup following her half-length victory in the Pretty Polly, earning an automatic berth into the $2 million Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf (gr. IT).
The 2009 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 to the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. IT).
In 2008, 34 of the 57 Challenge race winners competed in the Breeders’ Cup. Five of them won races, led by Raven's Pass in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I). The other winners were Zenyatta, who won the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic (gr. I); Forever Together, Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf; Stardom Bound, Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) and Maram, Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.
This year’s United Nations winner will gain an automatic starting position into the $3 million Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Turf. The Salvator Mile will provide its winner a starting berth in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.
Leading the field in the United Nations will be last year’s winner, Presious Passion. The 6-year-old gelding trained by Mary Hartmann led every step of the way in 2008. He enters in top form once again, winning three stakes this season and finishing second in two others.
Court Vision, trained by Bill Mott, is among those expected to face Presious Passion in the 1 3/8-mile United Nations. A grade I winner, Court Vision finished fourth in his most recent start, the Manhattan Handicap (gr. IT) at Belmont Park earlier this month.
Smooth Air is the probable headliner of the Salvator Mile. The 4-year-old will make his first start for trainer Chad Brown, a former assistant to Hall of Fame Bobby Frankel. Formerly trained by Bennie Stutts Jr., Smooth Air enters the Salvator Mile off a sharp second-place finish to Bribon in the grade I Metropolitan Mile at Belmont Park in May.
The United Nations and Salvator Mile will be shown on HRTV and TVG.