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BC Challenge Expands to Europe

Three "Win and You're In" races are scheduled at Ascot in England Sept. 27.

From Breeders' Cup

Breeders’ Cup officials said April 16 the Breeders’ Cup Challenge will for the first time be expanded to Europe with three “Win and You’re In” races at Ascot Racecourse in England Sept. 27.

Televised on the BBC and TVG networks, the additions bring the total 2008 Breeders’ Cup Challenge series races to 53 from 24 races in 2007. The expansion to Europe marks the third continent and third non-United States venue to host a Breeders’ Cup Challenge race.

On April 27, Sha Tin Race Course in Hong Kong will hold the Champions Mile (HK-I). Its winner will earn an automatic qualifying position in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. I).

It marks the second expansion of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series in 2008. After running 24 Challenge races at six racetracks in the U.S. in 2007, the 2008 schedule will be run at 13 North American tracks, including seven races at Woodbine in Canada.

Each Breeders’ Cup Challenge winner will gain an automatic starting position into a corresponding divisional race of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships. This year’s Breeders’ Cup will be held at the Oak Tree Racing Association meet at Santa Anita Park Oct. 24-25 and will be televised live on ESPN.

The three new races, all at a mile on the turf at the Ascot Festival, are the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (Eng-I), sponsored by Sony, for 3-year-olds and up; the Meon Valley Stud Fillies’ Mile (Eng-I) for 2-year-old fillies; and the Juddmonte Royal Lodge (Eng-II) for colts and geldings.

The Queen Elizabeth II is an automatic qualifier for the Mile; the Meon Valley Stud Fillies’ Mile is a qualifier for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf; and the Juddmonte Royal Lodge is a qualifier for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. Since its inception in 1984, 29 horses from Europe have won Breeders’ Cup races.

Three Breeders’ Cup Mile winners, Miesque (1987), Barathea (1994), and Ridgewood Pearl (1995), ran second in the Queen Elizabeth II.

“Ascot is one of the world’s greatest racing venues, and for centuries has been the hallmark of the finest competition in international racing,” Breeders’ Cup president and chief executive officer Greg Avioli said. "It is an honor and a privilege for us to be able to include these tremendous races from Ascot in this year's Challenge."

Said Charles Barnett, chief executive at Ascot: "Ascot is delighted that the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, Royal Lodge, and Fillies' Mile will this year be a part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge in the run up to the Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita. From our point of view, with the additional profile and coverage that this will give them in the United States, this is excellent news for our sponsors, especially for Sony, who we recently announced as new backers of the Queen Elizabeth II.”

The Breeders’ Cup Challenge begins July 5 with races from Monmouth Park. Other tracks to hold Challenge races include Emerald Downs, Suffolk Downs, Delaware Park, Calder Race Course, Belmont Park, Saratoga; Arlington Park, Del Mar, Keeneland, and Santa Anita.