10/21/2015 10:06AM

Breeders' Cup: 200 horses pre-entered for 13 races

Emily Shields
American Pharoah heads a list of 200 horses pre-entered for the 13 Breeders' Cup races to be run Oct. 30-31 at Keeneland.

Led by the likes of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, two-time champion Beholder, and Arc de Triomphe winner Golden Horn, 200 individual horses were announced on Wednesday as pre-entries for the 13 Breeders’ Cup races that will be held Oct. 30-31 at Keeneland in Lexington, Ky.

American Pharoah and Beholder are scheduled to meet in the Classic, whose 10 pre-entries also include Frosted, Honor Code, Keen Ice, and Tonalist. Collectively, they have won a Kentucky Derby, a Preakness, two Belmonts, a Met Mile, a Haskell, a Travers, a Whitney, two runnings of the Jockey Club Gold Cup, two Breeders’ Cup races, and three Eclipse Awards.

This will be the final start for American Pharoah, who begins stud duty next spring at Coolmore’s Ashford Stud in Kentucky.

Also pre-entered in the Classic are Effinex, Hard Aces, Smooth Roller, and the European turf star Gleneagles, who will try dirt for the first time. The 10 Classic runners have combined for 29 wins in Grade 1 or Group 1 races.

Beholder will be seeking to become the first horse to win three different Breeders’ Cup races. She won the Juvenile Fillies in 2012 and the Distaff in 2013.

Golden Horn is scheduled to run in the Turf and will try to become the first horse to win that race after capturing the Arc.

In addition to Beholder, five other previous Breeders’ Cup race winners are among the pre-entries – Untapable, who will defend her title in the Distaff; Judy the Beauty, who will try to win the Filly and Mare Sprint for the second straight year; defending Mile winner Karakontie; defending Turf Sprint winner Bobby’s Kitten, and Stephanie’s Kitten, who won the Juvenile Fillies Turf in 2011 and is among the top contenders in the Filly and Mare Turf.

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Chad Brown, the trainer of Stephanie’s Kitten, leads all trainers in pre-entries with 14.

Of the 200 horses, 24 were pre-entered in two races, bringing the total number of entries to 224. Both of those numbers are just shy of the records for both categories – set just one year ago, when there were 201 individual horses and 229 pre-entries for the 13 races run at Santa Anita – indicating that interest in this event remains very strong both in North American and Europe, which is represented by top-class runners like Golden Horn, Gleneagles, and Esoterique, one of the elite contenders in the Mile.

Wednesday’s announcement was the first of a multistage entry process. At that point, horses could be pre-entered in as many as two races, with a preference denoted. For instance, Beholder was pre-entered in both the Classic and the Distaff, with the Classic listed as preferred.

On Friday, connections of horses pre-entered in races that are oversubscribed must denote their choice. For instance, the Distaff had 16 pre-entries for a race in which a maximum of 14 can run. The Classic had 10 entries. Although Beholder’s connections have said all along that the Classic is their intended race, they will have to make that official by Friday owing to the Distaff being oversubscribed.

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Of the 13 races, 10 had more pre-entries than can run in the race, and all 10 had horses pre-entered in two races, so decisions regarding those cross-entered horses, and the impact on the potential fields for those races, will be known Friday.

Then on Monday, final entries are submitted and post positions drawn for all 13 races. At entry time on Monday, as many as two also-eligibles will be allowed for each oversubscribed race. Those horses can get in only if there is a defection from the main body of the race by the morning Oct. 30, which is scratch time for both the Oct. 30 and Oct. 31 Breeders’ Cup cards.

In races with more pre-entries than the maximum number of runners allowed, the field is determined using several steps. First in are horses who won designated Win and You’re In races. Next come horses who earned the most points in graded stakes races this year. The combination of Win and You’re In runners and those who get in on points determines half the field. The rest of the field – 14 runners for all races except the Filly and Mare Turfand Dirt Mile , which are capped at 12 – is selected by an international panel of racing officials, in order of preference.

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For instance, the Juvenile Turf, with 27 horses, had the most pre-entries. Since a maximum of 14 can run in the race, 13 were placed on the also-eligible list, in order of preference, and can get in if there are withdrawals from the original 14.

The only races that did not overfill were the Classic, with 10 runners; the Juvenile Fillies, with 12; and the Mile, with 13.

The Breeders’ Cup was first run in 1984, with just seven races on a single day. It has grown into a two-day event, with as many as 15 races in 2011-12 before being truncated to 14 in 2013 – after a two-year experiment with the Juvenile Sprint – and now 13 for the past two years after the Marathon was eliminated as a Breeders’ Cup race.

Of those 13 races, four – the Juvenile Turf, Dirt Mile, Juvenile Fillies Turf, and Distaff – will be run Oct. 30, with the remaining nine – the Juvenile Fillies, Turf Sprint, Filly and Mare Sprint, Filly and Mare Turf, Sprint, Mile, Juvenile, Turf, and Classic – on Oct. 31, which is Halloween.

Purses for the 13 races total $24.5 million, with the Classic, at $5 million, the richest.

This will be the first time in its 32 years that the Breeders’ Cup will be held at Keeneland. The Breeders’ Cup has been held eight times previously in Kentucky, but all those events were 72 miles west of Keeneland at Churchill Downs in Louisville.

Special accommodations have been made to hold the event at Keeneland, both in the stands and on the track. Keeneland is a far smaller facility than Churchill Downs or Santa Anita – which hosted the event the past three years – so ontrack seating and general admission are both capped, and extensive temporary seating has been constructed.

And because Keeneland’s main track is 1 1/16 miles in circumference, two finish lines will be used, with races ending at the sixteenth pole for the Juvenile and Juvenile Fillies – standard operating procedure for 1 1/16-mile races there – and for the Dirt Mile, which will start at the regular finish line and end at the sixteenth pole.

In addition, the Filly and Mare Turf will be shortened to 1 3/16 miles for the first time; it previously had been run at either 1 1/4 miles or 1 3/8 miles.