Led by North America’s all-time leading money earner California Chrome , two-time Breeders’ Cup champion mare Beholder, Travers Stakes (gr. I) winner Arrogate , defending champions Tepin and Found (IRE) and Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) winner Nyquist , an all-star international cast of 185 of the world’s best Thoroughbreds, including 38 from overseas, have been pre-entered for the 2016 Breeders’ Cup World Championships.
The 33rd Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Thoroughbred racing’s most prestigious two-day global event, consisting of 13 grade I races with purses and awards totaling $28 million, will be held for a record ninth time at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif., on Friday, Nov. 4 and Saturday, Nov. 5. There will be four Breeders’ Cup races on Championship Friday and nine Breeders’ Cup races on Championship Saturday.
The Breeders’ Cup will be televised live by NBCSN and NBC. The $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic will be broadcast live on Saturday, November 5 at 5:35 p.m. PT/8:35 p.m. ET on NBC (8-9 p.m. ET).
Among the statistical highlights in this year's pre-entries are that a total of seven races are oversubscribed with more than 14 horses. There are 45 horses who have qualified for automatic starting positions through the Breeders' Cup Challenge Series that are pre-entered. Aidan O'Brien has pre-entered 13 horses, the most among trainers, and the Coolmore partnerships lead all owners with 14 horses pre-entered.
This year's Breeders' Cup features 11 returning or former Breeders' Cup winners: Songbird, Beholder, Found, Catch a Glimpse, Mongolian Saturday, Lady Eli, Tepin, Hit it a Bomb , Runhappy , Wavell Avenue, and Nyquist
The $6 million Breeders' Cup Classic, whose purse was increased by $1 million from last year, is the climactic event of the Championships. It will be run on the main track at 1 1/4 miles with a first-place owner's prize of $3.3 million, with purse payouts now down to eighth place. The $4 million Longines Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT) has been raised by $1 million.
A field of 14 horses has been pre-entered for the Classic, led by 5-year-old California Chrome. Trained by Art Sherman and ridden by Victor Espinoza, California Chrome is undefeated in 2016, winning all six of his races in dominant fashion, including the Dubai World Cup (UAE-I), the TVG Pacific Classic (gr. I) in August at Del Mar and the Awesome Again Stakes (gr. I) at Santa Anita in his final prep on October 1. In the process, he has become the greatest North American money earner with a career total of $13.4 million. This season's accomplishments already add to a glorious career in which he won the 2014 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes (gr. I) and the Horse of the Year title. California Chrome finished third in the 2014 Breeders' Cup Classic.
A formidable challenger to California Chrome should come from Juddmonte Farm's late- developing 3-year-old Arrogate, winner of the Travers Stakes. Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert is seeking an unprecedented third consecutive Breeders' Cup Classic, having saddled the winners of the last two editions with Bayern at Santa Anita in 2014 and last year with Triple Crown winner American Pharoah at Keeneland. After breaking his maiden in his second try in June, and then netting a pair of allowance race wins at Santa Anita and Del Mar, respectively, Baffert sent Arrogate, a son of Unbridled's Song, to Saratoga, and under Mike Smith, the leading Breeders' Cup jockey with 22 all-time wins, Arrogate turned in one of the year's top performances, setting a track record and winning by a widening 13 1/2 lengths.
Baffert also has pre-entered Mike Pregram, Karl Watson's and Paul Weitman's Hoppertunity, winner of the Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I).
Godolphin's Frosted rates as the East Coast's leading Classic contender, as he earned a berth into the race with his win in Saratoga's "Win and You're In" Whitney (gr. I) in August for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. The 4-year-old son of Tapit also earned a berth into the Las Vegas Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile with his win in Belmont Park's "Win and You're In" Metropolitan Handicap (gr. I) in June, but was not pre-entered in that race. Frosted is 6-for-18 lifetime and will need to rebound from an odds-on loss in Saratoga's Woodward (gr. I) September 3.
Adding international intrigue to the Classic is that Derrick Smith, Susan Magnier, and Michael Tabor's 4-year-old filly Found, one of the world's most talented and resilient racehorses, has been pre-entered. Last year's winner of the Breeders' Cup Turf this year added the Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (Fr-I) to her list of career accomplishments, scoring a two-length win at Chantilly for trainer Aidan O'Brien. The same connections also pre-entered Highland Reel in the Classic, but who has been a first preference in the Breeders' Cup Turf.
"We are once again privileged to host the all stars of Thoroughbred racing and are very pleased with the overall international participation from Europe, Asia, and North and South America. It is a tribute to the Breeders' Cup and we are looking forward to watching stars like California Chrome, Found, Tepin, Songbird, and Beholder," said Breeders' Cup president Craig Fravel.
Depth and quality is the order of the day in Friday's $2 million Longines Breeders' Cup Distaff at 1 1/8 miles for 3-year-olds and up, in which three Eclipse Award winners from 2015: Beholder, Songbird, and Stellar Wind have been pre-entered.
Fox Hill Farm's Songbird has proven nothing short of extraordinary in her career for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, as she's not only undefeated in 11 starts, but has won them by a combined 60 1/2 lengths. Hronis Racing's Stellar Wind has forged to the lead in the filly and mare division in her last two starts for trainer John Sadler, as she defeated Beholder in two "Win and You're In" races: Del Mar's Clement L. Hirsch (gr. I) in August and Santa Anita's Zenyatta (gr. I) Oct. 1. Spendthrift Farm's Beholder may enter with a three-race losing streak, but she hasn't ducked a challenge this year for trainer Richard Mandella, as she's sandwiched her second-place runs to Stellar Wind with a second to California Chrome in the Pacific Classic. The 6-year-old daughter of Henny Hughes won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita in 2012 and the Distaff there the next year to cap off a pair of championship campaigns, and she won another divisional title last year.