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More Stakes Added to BC 'Challenge'

The Breeders' Cup Challenge will expand to at least 49 races this year.

The Breeders’ Cup Challenge, a series of automatic qualifying races for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, will be expanded from 24 races to a minimum of 49 races at 12 of North America’s premier racetracks in 2008, Breeders’ Cup announced Feb. 14.

The expanded Challenge will now include six races at Woodbine in Ontario, Canada.  Other new markets and tracks for the 2008 Challenge include Emerald Downs in Washington, Suffolk Downs in Massachusetts, Delaware Park in Delaware, Calder Race Course in Florida, and Monmouth Park in New Jersey.

The 2008 Challenge races will begin July 5 with races from Monmouth Park, host of last year’s World Championships. Breeders’ Cup Challenge races will be televised on ABC, ESPN, TVG, and HRTV in more than 120 countries.

The 2008 scheme will be include the “Win and You’re In” provision, with the winner of each of the 49 Challenge races automatically qualifying for a spot in the corresponding divisional race in the 14-race, $25.5-million World Championships Oct. 24-25 at Oak Tree at Santa Anita Park.

Breeders’ Cup officials said the addition of Woodbine races “is a significant step for the Breeders’ Cup Challenge entering its second year as it incorporates six races internationally and expands the Challenge footprint across North America.” Woodbine moved its Oct. 4 program back two weeks to ensure two of Canada’s most prominent races were included in the Challenge: the E.P. Taylor (Can-IT), a qualifier for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf, and the Canadian International (Can-IT), a qualifier for the Turf division.  Other race qualifiers that day include the Nearctic Stakes (Can-IIT) for the Turf Sprint and the Summer Stakes (Can-IIIT) for the Juvenile Turf.

“Following last year’s successful launch of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge, there was a great deal of interest from tracks around the country and internationally to be a part of this year's series, and that interest led to the expansion of the Challenge,” Greg Avioli, president and chief executive officer of Breeders’ Cup, said in a statement. “The creation of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge has served as a powerful link between America’s greatest races to the Breeders’ Cup, and has created an increased level of awareness for the horses competing in the World Championships.”

Five of the 49 races will be automatic qualifiers for starting positions in the $5-million Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) beginning with the Whitney Handicap (gr. I) at Saratoga July 26, the Pacific Classic (gr. I) at Del Mar Aug. 24 (tentative), the Massachusetts Handicap at Suffolk Downs Sept. 20, the Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) at Belmont Park Sept. 27,  and the Goodwood Stakes (gr. I) at the Oak Tree at Santa Anita Sept. 27 (tentative).

Breeders’ Cup Challenge expansion also includes the addition of qualifying races for the $1-million Dirt Mile, $2-million Juvenile Fillies, $1-million Juvenile Fillies Turf, and $1-million Juvenile Turf.

In its first year, the Breeders’ Cup Challenge had 14 winners who competed in the 2007 Breeders’ Cup World Championships. Four horses won grade I races: War Pass (Juvenile), Ginger Punch (Distaff), English Channel (Turf), and Curlin (Classic).

While 49 races have been established as the preliminary Challenge schedule for 2008, Breeders’ Cup officials said they might expand, adding five or six races pending ongoing discussions with partner tracks.

“The Breeders’ Cup Challenge made a big day even bigger at Del Mar last year and helped us set a single-day wagering record,” Del Mar executive vice president Craig Fravel said in a statement. “We’re delighted to be part of this unique series again in 2008, and hope our fans find it even more appealing this time around.”

 2008 Breeders' Cup Challenge Schedule

Date/Track Race BC Qualifying Race
Monmouth Park Salvator Mile Dirt Mile
  United Nations Turf
Calder Race Course Princess Rooney Filly & Mare Sprint
  Smile Sprint Sprint
Delaware Delaware Handicap Distaff
Del Mar* San Diego Handicap Dirt Mile
Saratoga Whitney Handicap Classic
  Go For Wand Handicap Distaff
  Diana Stakes Filly & Mare Turf
  A.G. Vanderbilt Handicap Sprint
Del Mar* John Mabee Filly & Mare Turf
Arlington Park Arlington Million Turf
  Beverly D Filly & Mare Turf
Saratoga Sword Dancer Turf
Emerald Downs Longacres Mile Handicap Dirt Mile
Del Mar* Del Mar Handicap Turf
Arlington Park Arlington Sprint Turf Sprint
Del Mar* Del Mar Handicap Mile
Del Mar* Pacific Classic Classic
  Rancho Bernardo Handicap Filly & Mare Sprint
Saratoga Ballerina Filly & Mare Sprint
Woodbine Woodbine Mile Mile
Woodbine Natalma Juvenile Fillies Turf
Suffolk Downs Massachusetts Handicap Classic
Oak Tree at    
Santa Anita Park* Morvich Handicap Turf Sprint
Belmont Park The Jockey Club Gold Cup Classic
Oak Tree at    
Santa Anita Park* Goodwood Stakes Classic
  Lady’s Secret Stakes Distaff
  Yellow Ribbon Filly & Mare Turf
  Oak Leaf Juvenile Fillies
  Ancient Title Stakes Sprint
Belmont Park Miss Grillo Juvenile Fillies Turf
  The Pilgrim Juvenile Turf
Oak Tree at    
Santa Anita Park* Norfolk Juvenile
  Oak Tree Mile Stakes Mile
Keeneland* Darley Alcibiades Juvenile Fillies
Keeneland* Thoroughbred Club of America Filly & Mare Sprint
  Lane’s End Breeders’ Futurity Juvenile
  Shadwell Mile Mile
Woodbine E P Taylor Filly & Mare Turf
  Summer Stakes Juvenile Turf
  Canadian International Turf
  Nearctic Turf Sprint
Belmont Park Champagne Juvenile
  Frizette Juvenile Fillies
Keeneland* Juddmonte Spinster Stakes Distaff
  JP Morgan Chase Jessamine Juvenile Fillies Turf
  Woodford Reserve Bourbon Juvenile Turf

* = Tentative date