02/27/2008 12:00AM

Breeders' Cup Friday card now all-female


The Breeders' Cup announced on Wednesday that the first day of its two-day championship event this year at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting on Oct. 24-25 will feature a card exclusively for female runners, with concurrent marketing to support the program.

Five Breeders' Cup races will now be run on Friday, and nine on Saturday.

The most notable change is that the race formerly known as the Breeders' Cup Distaff - now to be called the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic - will be moved from Saturday to Friday and will be the feature race that day. The BC Filly and Mare Turf and BC Juvenile Fillies will also be moved from the Saturday card to Friday.

Joining those races will be the BC Filly and Mare Sprint, which was run for the first time last year at Monmouth Park, and the BC Juvenile Fillies Turf, which will be inaugurated this year.

Those five races will be joined by other races of lesser stature to complete a card made up entirely of races for fillies and mares on Oct. 24.

"The initial response from the Breeders' Cup family, including ESPN, our marketing partners, nominators, and Trustees has been extremely supportive and enthusiastic," Greg Avioli, the president and CEO of the Breeders' Cup, said Wednesday in a statement. "By shifting some of our traditional Saturday races to Friday, we ensure that Friday stands on its own as an international competition of the highest level."

Marketing tie-ins to the all-female Friday card include programs focused on women's health, and "first of its kind sponsor activation elements, broadcast and other media programs designed to support both the racing and charitable components," the Breeders' Cup said in a press release.

New to the Saturday card will be the BC Juvenile Turf and BC Dirt Mile, which were inaugurated last year on the Friday program, and the BC Marathon and BC Turf Sprint, which will be run for the first time this year. Those four races join five - the BC Juvenile, BC Sprint, BC Mile, BC Turf, and BC Classic - that remain on the Saturday program.

The Breeders' Cup had seven races from its inaugural in 1984 through 1998. In 1999, the BC Filly and Mare Turf was added, but the card remained confined to a single day. Last year, three races were added, and the program expanded to cover two days. This year, three more new races will bring the total number of Breeders' Cup races to 14, double the amount when the championship day was first run. The 14 races are worth $25.5 million.