The Breeders' Cup announced its 2017 Breeders' Cup Challenge series schedule April 12, which consists of 81 automatic-qualifying stakes races into corresponding races of the Breeders' Cup World Championships.
This year's series, which includes 62 grade 1 or group 1 events, will have 49 Challenge races held in the United States and Canada, and 32 races to be run outside of North America.
The 34th Breeders’ Cup will be held for the first time at the Del Mar, near San Diego, Calif., Nov. 3-4 and televised by the NBC Sports Group.
This year the NBC Sports Group will also televise the "Breeders' Cup Challenge Series: Win and You're In Series presented by Lane's End Farm and America's Best Racing," featuring Challenge races across 11 programs.
The Challenge Series, now in its 11th year, will be held at racetracks in 13 countries: the U.S., Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, England, France, Japan, Germany, Ireland, Peru, and South Africa.
As part of the enhanced benefits to horsemen, Breeders' Cup will pay the entry fees and guarantee a starting position in a corresponding race for winners of all Challenge races.
Breeders' Cup will also provide travel allowances to all starters outside of California for this year's Championships, including Challenge race winners. Breeders' Cup will provide a $40,000 travel stipend to the connections of each Challenge winner from outside North America and a $10,000 travel allowance for winners within North America that are stabled outside of California. The Challenge winner must already be nominated to the Breeders' Cup program or it must be done by the Championships' pre-entry deadline of Oct. 23 to receive the rewards.
For the eighth consecutive year, the Breeders' Cup will pay foal nominators of Challenge winners a $10,000 award.
Last year 43 Breeders' Cup Challenge winners participated in the Breeders' Cup. Two of those Challenge winners won Breeders' Cup races: Classic Empire in the Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) and Highland Reel in the Longines Breeders' Cup Turf (G1T).
"We are very proud of the increased popularity and participation of horsemen around the world, who take advantage of the benefits of an automatic berth and paid entry fees offered through the Breeders' Cup Challenge as the best way to secure a starting position in the World Championships," said Craig Fravel, Breeders' Cup president and chief executive officer. "Our racetrack and racing association partners are also a major part of the success of the series and we thank them for their participation in the program."