Fifteen new grade/group I races have been added to the schedule for the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Challenge, an international series of 68 automatic qualifying races for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships. Also beginning this year, Breeders’ Cup will pay the entry fees and provide travel allowances into the Championships for the winning connections of the “Win and You’re In’ Challenge events.
The 2011 U.S. Challenge races will be televised on ESPN, TVG, and HRTV and on TSN in Canada. This World Championships will be held Nov. 4-5 at Churchill Downs and will be televised live on ABC and ESPN.
Among the highlights of this year’s series are:
--The Breeders’ Cup 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. 24 to receive the rewards.
--There will be six automatic berths in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I). The Classic qualifiers, all grade I, begin on July 9 with the Hollywood Gold Cup from Hollywood Park; followed by the Haskell Invitational from Monmouth Park on July 31; the Whitney from Saratoga on Aug. 6; the Pacific Classic from Del Mar on Aug. 28, and the Jockey Club Gold Cup from Belmont Park and the Goodwood Handicap from Santa Anita Park, both on Oct.1. The Hollywood Gold Cup, the Haskell, and Jockey Club Gold Cup are new races in the Challenge series.
--There will be 18 Challenge races held overseas, including 10 new events. Among those new events are the first-ever Challenge races in Argentina and Japan. The Classico Belgrano (Arg-II) (Marathon) will be run at Palermo Race Course in Buenos Aires on June 18. The Takarazuka Kinen (Jpn-I) (Turf) will be run at Hanshin Racecourse on June 26. Also new to the series this year are the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud (Fr-I) (Turf) in France on June 26; the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (Eng-I) (Turf) from Ascot on July 24, and the Qatar Petroleum Prix de L ‘Opera (Fr-I) (Filly & Mare Turf) from Longchamp on Oct. 2.
--Also new this year, the Breeders’ Cup will pay a $10,000 award to the nominator of each Challenge race winner.
“We have strengthened the Breeders’ Cup Challenge by upgrading the quality of the races and creating greater incentives for horsemen to participate in the series by paying the winners’ entry fees and travel expenses into the Championships,” said Clem Murphy, chairman of the Breeders’ Cup Racing and Nominations Committee. “All of these factors will help to generate increased awareness for our Championships throughout the summer and fall while promoting the best of Thoroughbred racing from around the world.”
This year’s series began in Australia with two group I races at Royal Randwick. Black Caviar won the Darley TJ Smith Stakes (Aus-I) on April 9 and earned an automatic berth into the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (gr. IIT), and the 6-year-old mare Sacred Choice won the Emirates Doncaster Mile last Saturday to earn a berth into the $2 million TVG 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 30, for a starting position in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (gr. I).