In an effort to attract more horses, especially those from overseas, to participate in its World Championships, Breeders’ Cup Limited is making major changes to its nominations programs. At the same time, Breeders’ Cup announced it will pay nomination fees and other related costs to horses that earn automatic berths in the Championships by winning qualifying "Win and You’re In" races.
During a Sept. 13 press conference at Keeneland, Breeders’ Cup announced that all foals sired by Breeders’ Cup nominated international stallions will be automatically eligible to participate in Breeders’ Cup races.
"To qualify for the new program, owners of stallions standing outside North America in the Northern Hemisphere will pay an annual nomination fee equal to 50% of their stallion’s published stud fee and owners of stallions standing in the Southern Hemisphere will pay a nomination fee equal to 25% of their stallion’s published stud fee," according to the announcement.
According to Breeders’ Cup spokesman Jim Gluckson, there would no longer be foal nominations in the European and Southern Hemispheres beginning in 2011 and current North American nominations programs will remain unchanged.
As a way of enhancing the benefits for winning one of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge qualifying "Win and You’re In" races, Breeders’ Cup will pay the entry fees and subsidize travel costs to the Championships for all Challenge winners who are Breeders’ Cup eligible. Breeders’ Cup also will pay a new $10,000 award to the nominator of any North American foal that wins a Challenge race, according to the announcement.
"The Breeders’ Cup World Championships is our flagship and the programs we are unveiling today will make it an even stronger global competition moving forward," Breeders’ Cup chairman Bill Farish said in a release. "While some of these initiatives are targeted at the overseas market, we believe that building our global Championships and strengthening the Breeders’ Cup’s international brand will directly support a stronger U.S. commercial Thoroughbred breeding and racing market."
"Over the past few years, less than 2% of all international Thoroughbreds have been eligible to run in our Championships," Breeders’ Cup president and CEO Greg Avioli said in a statement. "We believe the new changes to expand international eligibility along with the additional incentives for Challenge winners and North American breeders should ensure we continue to draw the best fields in the world to racing’s premier event."
"For years Breeders’ Cup has looked for ways to attract more interest and participation from the top stables outside the U.S. and this new program is a big step toward doing just that," Clem Murphy, senior bloodstock adviser of Coolmore Stud, and chairman of the Breeders’ Cup racing and nominations committee that helped develop the new program, said in a statement. "Coolmore plans to take advantage of this new program and we would encourage the leading breeding operations in Europe, Asia, Australia, and South America to do the same."
Also, Breeders’ Cup announced that to "jumpstart the international nominations program and increase the numbers of eligible runners in the Championships from North America," it will offer a special one-time, fee-based "open enrollment" program in 2011 for previously ineligible horses. The open enrollment program will be available from Feb. 1 through June 30, 2011 to any horse sired by stallions nominated to the Breeders’ Cup in 2011 according to the following fee schedule: yearlings for $3,000; 2-year-olds for $6,000; and 3-year-olds and up for $25,000.
"This is a one-time incentive that we thought long and hard about," Avioli said in the release. "Initially, it was targeted to international participants but we considered the overall fairness issues and the benefits this could provide owners in the U.S. and Canada and decided it was in everyone’s interest to offer it on a worldwide basis."
According to Breeders’ Cup, in 2010 there are 66 Challenge races--50 in the U.S. and Canada, and 16 in Europe, Asia, and Australia. The 2011 Challenge schedule will be announced later in the year, according to the organization.
International wagering on the Breeders’ Cup World Championships has grown from $11 million to $23 million over the last five years. Since its Championships expanded to two days in 2007, Breeders’ Cup has grown the number of international starters from 12 to 34.