The Breeders' Cup will reinstate entry fee benefits to the connections of Silver Max and Poker Player, winners of Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win and You're In" events at Keeneland Oct. 5 and 6 that lost their designation when the races came off the turf, it was announced Oct. 11.
However, the automatic Challenge starting positions will not be reinstated, and each horse will be required to qualify for the Nov. 1-2 Breeders' Cup World Championships at Santa Anita Park on the basis of Breeders' Cup points or through the racing directors and secretaries panel selection.
The Shadwell Turf Mile (gr. IT), originally scheduled as a Breeders' Cup Challenge race awarding an automatic berth and free entry into the Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) to the winner, was switched to the Polytrack Oct. 5 due to heavy rains at Keeneland. It was won by 4-year-old Silver Max for Mark Bacon and Dana Wells and trainer Dale Romans.
The following day, the Bourbon Stakes (gr. IIIT) for 2-year-olds, scheduled as a Challenge race qualifying for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (gr. IT) was also switched to the main track. It was won by Gary and Mary West's Poker Player for trainer Wayne Catalano.
Under Breeders' Cup Challenge rules, an automatic berth cannot be awarded to the winner of a race that is taken off the turf. However, since no horses were scratched from either race, and the American Graded Stakes Committee subsequently reinstated the original grades for the races, Breeders' Cup officials elected to reinstate entry fee awards of $40,000 to the connections of Silver Max and $20,000 to the connections of Poker Player.
"Since the fields of both the Shadwell Turf Mile and the Bourbon Stakes remained completely intact following the decision to run them on the main track, we've determined that while an automatic starting position into the turf races is not possible, representatives of both Silver Max and Poker Player should still receive the financial benefits of the Challenge series," said Craig Fravel, Breeders' Cup president and CEO. "We hope to see them both at Santa Anita next month."
The pre-entry deadline for the 30th Breeders' Cup World Championships is Monday, Oct. 21. This year Breeders' Cup will provide travel awards of $10,000 to all North American starters in the Breeders' Cup World Championships if they are based outside of California. International starters will receive a $40,000 travel award.
In addition to the reinstatement of entry fees, the foal nominators of Silver Max, Stephen Snowden, and Seth and Will Lauffer, and the foal nominators of Poker Player, Nicholas and Rosemary Lotz, will each receive a $10,000 nominator award as a part of the Breeders' Cup Challenge series.