04/24/2014 3:30PM

Breeders' Cup Challenge schedule includes 73 races


The Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series will consist of 73 races in 13 countries this year, with the winners guaranteed a spot in one of the 14 Breeders’ Cup races scheduled for Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 at Santa Anita Park in Southern California.

The schedule this year includes 11 new races, though four races were dropped from last year’s lineup, leading to a net gain of seven races for the series. Included this year are a record seven races guaranteeing berths for the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, the richest race in the two-day event. Last year, six races offered berths in the Classic.

The series this year will expand to three new countries, all in South America: Brazil, Chile, and Peru. One race in each country has been designated as a Challenge race, offering berths in the $3 million Turf, the $2 million Distaff, and the $1 million Dirt Mile. Five other new races have been added in Australia, England, Ireland, and South Africa, where Beach Beauty won the Grade 1 Maine Chance Paddock Farm Stakes on Jan. 11 to earn an automatic berth in the BC Filly and Mare Turf.

The three new races this year in the series that will be held in North America are the Gold Cup at Santa Anita (formerly the Hollywood Gold Cup) on June 28, offering a berth in the Classic; the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth on July 27, also offering a berth in the Classic; and the Belmont Oaks on July 5, with a berth in the Filly and Mare Turf.

Over the eight years since the organization launched the Challenge Series – sometimes known as “Win and You’re In” – the Breeders’ Cup has sought to expand the series to other major racing countries to draw horses from far-flung locations to its year-end event, in an effort to increase its international profile and open up new markets to betting.

Under a restructuring of the Challenge Series several years ago, the Breeders’ Cup decided to waive the entry fees for horses who win Challenge races. Last year, the owners of 36 horses who won Challenge races did not have to pay entry fees, including the owners of Mucho Macho Man, the winner of the Classic.

The Breeders’ Cup requires a pre-entry fee of 1 percent of the race purse, and an additional 1 percent fee to pay at the entry box. For the Classic, that amounts to $100,000 per horse. In the $1 million Breeders’ Cup races, entry fees amount to $20,000.

The Breeders’ Cup also will once again provide shipping allowances to all horses’ connections who enter in the races from outside of California. Connections of horses outside of North America will receive a $40,000 travel allowance, and those in the United States and Canada will receive a $10,000 stipend.

In addition to the Gold Cup and Haskell, the races providing automatic berths in the Classic will be the Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs on June 14, the Whitney Handicap at Saratoga on Aug. 2, the Pacific Classic at Del Mar on Aug. 24, the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park on Sept. 28, and the Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita on Sept. 28.