The Breeders' Cup announced March 22 that the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Challenge series will consist of 73 automatic qualifying races into the Breeders' Cup World Championships.
This year’s series has been expanded to 10 countries and will feature 13 new races to the schedule, including 52 grade or group I events. The Breeders’ Cup will pay entry fees and provide travel allowances for the connections of the Challenge winners into the Championships.
The 29th Breeders’ Cup World Championships will be held at Santa Anita Park on Nov. 2-3, and will be televised live on the NBC Sports Network. The Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) will be shown live on NBC from 8-9 p.m. ET on Nov. 3.
The expanded Challenge series, now in its sixth year, will be held at many of the world’s premier racetracks in the United States, Canada, Argentina, Australia, England, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, and South Africa. This year’s series began in January in South Africa, when the 4-year-old Gimmethegreenlight won the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate (SAf-I) at Kenilworth Racecourse in Cape Town and qualified for an automatic starting position in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. IT). The first North American race of the series will be the Metropolitan Handicap (gr. I) at Belmont Park on May 28, for an automatic berth in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (gr. I).
Among the highlights of this year’s series are:
• As part of the enhanced benefits program for Breeders’ Cup Challenge winners introduced last year, the Breeders’ Cup again will pay the entry fees of all Challenge winners starting in the Championships and provide a travel allowance of $20,000 to the winning connections of each Challenge winner from outside of North America and a $10,000 travel allowance for winners of Challenge races held in North America. The Challenge winner must be nominated to the Breeders’ Cup program by the Championships’ pre-entry deadline of Oct. 22 to receive the rewards. Last year, 35 winners of Breeders’ Cup Challenge races participated in the World Championships.
• The 2012 series will feature 13 new races: L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate (SAf-I) at Kenilworth Racecourse in South Africa (Jan. 7); Gran Premio 25 de Mayo (Arg-I) at San Isidro in Argentina on May 25; Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I) at Churchill Downs on June 16; Personal Ensign Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga on Aug. 26; Longines Grosser Preis von Baden from Baden-Baden in Germany (Ger-I) on Sept. 2; Gallant Bloom Handicap (gr. II) on Sept. 22 at Belmont Park; Pilgrim Stakes (gr. IIIT) and Miss Grillo Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Belmont Park, both on Oct. 7; Bourbon Stakes (gr. III) at Keeneland on Oct.7; Juddmonte Royal Lodge Stakes (Eng-II) on Sept. 29 and EMAAR Middle Park Stakes (Eng-I) on Oct. 13, both at Newmarket in England; Juddmonte Beresford Stakes (Ire-II) from The Curragh in Ireland on Sept. 30 and the Prix de la Foret (Fr-I) at Longchamp on Oct. 7.
•There will be six automatic berths for the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, all grade I races. The Classic qualifiers begin on June 16 with the Stephen Foster Handicap and will be followed by the Hollywood Gold Cup from Hollywood Park on July 7; the Whitney Handicap from Saratoga on August 4; the TVG Pacific Classic from Del Mar on Aug. 26; the Jockey Club Gold Cup from Belmont Park and the Goodwood Handicap from Santa Anita Park, both on Sept. 29.
• For the second year, the Breeders’ Cup will pay foal nominators of Challenge winners a $10,000 award.
“Expanding the global reach and upgrading the quality of races in the Breeders’ Cup Challenge series are critical factors in increased participation and in generating awareness for the Breeders’ Cup in the months leading to our Championships,” said Craig Fravel, president and CEO of Breeders’ Cup Limited. “We also look forward to horsemen taking advantage of our incentive program of free entries and travel allowances for Challenge winners into the World Championships, which was very well received last year.”