Breeders' Cup Challenge Series Expands

The 2014 race slate includes 55 grade/group I races in 13 countries, 73 races in all.

The Breeders' Cup Challenge series this year will consist of 73 automatic qualifying races into the Oct. 31-Nov. 1 Breeders' Cup World Championships, with 46 challenge races to be held in the U.S. and Canada, it was announced April 24.

Now in its eighth year, the qualifying series will be held at many of the world's premier racetracks in 13 countries: the U.S., Canada, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, England, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Peru, and South Africa.

As part of the enhanced benefits to horsemen in the Breeders' Cup Challenge series, Breeders' Cup will pay the entry fees and guarantee a starting position in a corresponding championships race for winners of all challenge races. Breeders' Cup will provide a $40,000 travel stipend to the connections of each challenge winner from outside of North America. In North America, a $10,000 travel allowance will be provided for winners stabled outside of California. Each challenge winner must be nominated to the Breeders' Cup program by the pre-entry deadline of Oct. 20 to receive the rewards.

Last year, 36 participants in the Breeders' Cup earned automatic starting positions through the series. Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) victor Mucho Macho Man , Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I) victress Beholder, Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT) winer Dank, and two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan, who repeated in the Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT), were challenge qualifiers.

"The Breeders' Cup Challenge series continues to be an excellent path for horsemen to secure an automatic starting berth, with fees paid, for their runners to qualify into the championships," said Craig Fravel, president and CEO of the Breeders' Cup. "We were very proud of the large number of challenge starters that competed in last year's event, and are looking forward to attracting more horses this year as we welcome our new racetrack partners who have joined the series for the 2014 season." 

There will be a record seven automatic berths awarded for the $5 million Classic, all grade I races: the June 14 Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs, the June 28 Gold Cup at Santa Anita, the July 27 William Hill Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park, the Aug. 2 Whitney Handicap from Saratoga Race Course, the Aug. 24 TVG Pacific Classic from Del Mar, and on Sept. 28 both the Jockey Club Gold Cup from Belmont Park and the Awesome Again Stakes from Santa Anita Park. Mucho Macho Man earned an automatic berth to the Classic by winning last year's Awesome Again.

The series has 11 new races, including the Gold Cup at Santa Anita, previously run at Hollywood Park, and the Haskell. The others are:

• July 5 Belmont Oaks at Belmont Park, Jan. 11 Maine Chance Farms Paddock Stakes (Saf-I) at Kenilworth in South Africa, and Sept. 13 Fastnet Rock Matron Stakes (Ire-I) at Leopardstown in Ireland, qualifiers for the Filly & Mare Turf;

• Sept. 20 Juddmonte International (Eng-I) at York,  April 14 Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes (Aus-I) at Royal Randwick in Australia, and the June 8 Grande Premio Brasil (Brz-I) at Hipodromo de Gavea as qualifiers for the Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT);

• June 22 Clasico Cesar del Rio (Per-III) at Hipodromo de Monterrico in Peru for Breeders' Cup Distaff contenders;

• June 27 Copa De Oro Vinas De Chile (Chi-II) at Club Hipico de Santiago in Chile as a qualifer for the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (gr. I); and,

• Sept. 27 Shadwell Rockfel Stakes (Eng-II) at Newmarket for runners pointing toward the Juvenile Fillies Turf (gr. IT).

For the fifth consecutive year, the Breeders' Cup will pay foal nominators of challenge winners a $10,000 award.

Horses who have already qualified through the Breeders' Cup Challenge program this year include Beach Beauty for the Filly & Mare Turf, Capetown Noir and Sacred Falls for the Mile, and Lankan Rupee and It's A Dundeel for the Turf.

The first two North American races of the series will be run June 7 at Belmont with the Metropolitan Handicap (gr. I) standing as a qualifier for the Dirt Mile and the Ogden Phipps (gr. I) offering a spot in the Distaff. Both races will be televised live on NBCSN.

On April 21, Breeders' Cup and NBC Sports announced an expanded partnership to televise the Breeders' Cup Challenge Series: Win and You're In, a series of 18 races across 11 shows on NBC and NBCSN from top tracks in the U.S. from June until the running of the World Championships in Arcadia, Ca. There, horses from around the globe will compete in a two-day extravaganza which will be televised live by NBC. The $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic will be shown live in primetime on NBC from 8 to 9 p.m. EDT on Nov. 1.

View the complete Breeders' Cup challenge schedule here.