Beginning with the dramatic three-way finish in the 1984 Classic, the Breeders’ Cup has charged to the front of the worldwide racing stage. It’s the richest day in American horse racing, staged in late October/early November, far richer than the Triple Crown races. The Breeders’ Cup Trophy is an authentic bronze reproduction of the original Torrie horse that was created in Florence in the late 1580s. 15 replicas are presented to the connections of the winners every year.
There are a few ways for a horse to qualify for a Breeders’ Cup race. The first is by winning a Breeders’ Cup Challenge race. The second is based on a points system, where horses are ranked based on their performance in major races during the year.
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After the Triple Crown races, the Breeders’ Cup are the next most popular racing options. There are high stakes in the fall with plenty of prizing on the line. Below are the most important races:
The Breeders’ Cup Classic, run at 1 1/4 miles, draws the top international Thoroughbreds year after year. With its $5 million purse, the Classic is the richest race in all of North America. It is open to horses 3-years-old and older and is limited to 14 starters.
Run at 1 mile on the grass course, the Juvenile Turf, restricted to male 2-year-olds, is often a forecast for the top turf horses of the future.
The Dirt Mile is a race for 3-year-olds and older and is run around two turns of the main track at Santa Anita Park.
Juvenile Fillies Turf
The Juvenile Fillies Turf brings together the best 2-year-old female turf horses from North America and overseas for a 1 mile test on the grass course.
The Distaff brings together the best female dirt horses for a championship showdown at 1 1/8 miles on the main track. This race was won by the great Zenyatta at Santa Anita in 2008.
In Thoroughbred racing, a Juvenile race is one restricted to 2-year-old horses. The Juvenile Fillies is restricted to 2-year-old females. It is run at 1 1/16 miles, a little more than the circumference of the racetrack. In nearly all cases over the years, the winner of the Juvenile Fillies has been named the Champion of all 2-year-old females.
Filly & Mare Turf
Some of the world’s best female grass horses compete in this 1¼ mile race on the turf for a $2 million purse.
Filly & Mare Sprint
The Filly & Mare Sprint is run around one turn at 7 furlongs (about 1,500 yards) for the fastest females, 3-years-old and older.
Run at approximately 1400 yards (6.5 furlongs) for horses 3-years of age and older, this race combines both speed and agility for the international competitors.
At $2 million, the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile is the richest 2-year-old race in North America. The 1 1/16 mile race, restricted to male 2 year-olds, is often a preview of the stars of the Triple Crown races for the following year.
The Breeders’ Cup Turf is run at 1 ½ miles on the grass course, for horses 3-years-old and older. The race attracts the top grass talent from Europe and North America to compete for a $3 million purse.
The world’s fastest Thoroughbreds compete in the Sprint, sometimes achieving speeds nearing 40 M.P.H. in the stretch. This race is contested at three- quarters of a mile for male and female horses, 3-years-old and older.
The world’s best grass milers at 3 years old and up compete in this race with a purse of $2 million.