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|
|Calder Race Course||Princess Rooney||Filly & Mare Sprint|
|Del Mar*||San Diego Handicap||Dirt Mile|
|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|
|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||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|
|Woodbine||E P Taylor||Filly & Mare Turf|
|Summer Stakes||Juvenile Turf|
|Keeneland*||Juddmonte Spinster Stakes||Distaff|
|JP Morgan Chase Jessamine||Juvenile Fillies Turf|
|Woodford Reserve Bourbon||Juvenile Turf|