The Breeders’ Cup announced June 22 that the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes sponsored by Sony (Eng-I), Meon Valley Stud Fillies’ Mile (Eng-I) and Juddmonte Royal Lodge Stakes (Eng-II) at Ascot on Sept. 26, and the Emirates Airline Champion Stakes (Eng-I) at Newmarket on Oct. 17, have been selected to the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Challenge series.
The winners of all four British races will earn automatic starting berths into the $25.5 million Breeders' Cup World Championships at the Oak Tree Racing Association meeting at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California, Nov. 6-7.
The Breeders’ Cup Challenge, with its “Win and You’re In” provision, is an international series of 62 stakes races, whose winners earn qualifying positions into a corresponding race at the World Championships, following the payment applicable entry fees on Oct. 26. This year, Breeders’ Cup has increased the international Challenge races from four to 12 events, and they will be held at the world’s premier racetracks in Australia (Moonee Valley), Ireland (The Curragh, Leopardstown and Dundalk), France (Deauville and Longchamp) and Hong Kong (Sha Tin), in addition to Ascot and Newmarket. The 2009 Breeders' Cup Challenge races will begin in the U.S. on July 4 with qualifying events from Monmouth Park in Oceanport, New Jersey: the United Nations (gr. IT) on turf, and the Salvator Mile (gr. III).
The Queen Elizabeth II is an automatic qualifier for the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. IT) on turf. The Meon Valley Stud Fillies’ Mile is an automatic qualifier for the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at one mile for 2-year-old fillies; the Juddmonte Royal Lodge is a qualifier for the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf for 2-year-old colts and geldings at one mile and the Emirates Airline Champion Stakes at Newmarket is a qualifier for the $3 million Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. IT) at 1 ½ miles.
All four Breeders Cup Challenge races in England will also receive an additional $50,000 from the Breeders’ Cup in Owners’ Premiums. A Breeders’ Cup nominated horse that finishes in one of the three top positions will earn a portion of the Premium. These races are among 11 international Challenge stakes that will be enhanced with $50,000 in Owners’ Premiums for horses nominated to the Breeders’ Cup program.
“We are excited to return the Breeders’ Cup Challenge races to Ascot and welcome Newmaket and the Emirates Airline Champion Stakes to the Breeders’ Cup Challenge,” said Breeders’ Cup president and CEO Greg Avioli. “We are always striving to make the Breeders’ Cup more inclusive to our international horsemen and fans. British racing has been a long and valued partner to the success of the Breeders’ Cup, and the selection of the Ascot and Newmarket races for the series strengthens the link of the world’s greatest races and racehorses to the Breeders’ Cup.”
“We’re delighted to be involved in ‘Win and You’re In’ for the second time and pleased that the portfolio of linked races has been extended to include the Emirates Airline Champion Stakes in October, said Charles Barnett, chief executive of Ascot Racecourse. “The QEII is consistently rated amongst the top mile races in the world and is Europe’s undisputed mile championship... We look forward to working with Breeders’ Cup to promote the Santa Anita championships to the connections of all three of our included races.”
Newmarket Racecourses managing director Stephen Wallis said: "The Emirates Airline Champion Stakes is the most important all-aged race staged at the end of the British Flat season."