2018 Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series Schedule

Breeders' Cup Challenge

Breeders’ Cup Ltd. announced the entire Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” series of races for 2018.(Photo by Kazushi Ishida/Eclipse Sportswire/Breeders Cup)

The Breeders’ Cup today announced its 2018 Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series: Win and You’re In presented by America’s Best Racing full schedule, which currently consists of 82 automatic qualifying stakes races into corresponding Breeders’ Cup World Championships races. This year’s series, which includes 66 Grade/Group 1 events, will have at least 49 Challenge races held in the U.S. and Canada and 33 races to be run outside of North America – four of them during the Royal Ascot meeting.

The current 2018 full schedule is available here.

Horses from around the globe will be qualifying for the 35th Breeders’ Cup World Championships to be held at the Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky on November 2-3. This year’s Championships consists of 14 races, 13 of which are Grade 1 events, with purses and awards totaling more than $30 million.

Challenge Races in Dozen Countries

The Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series, now in its 12th year, will be held at many of the world’s premier racetracks in 12 countries: U.S., Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, England, France, Japan, Ireland, Peru and South Africa.

As part of the enhanced benefits to horsemen competing in the series, Breeders’ Cup will pay the entry fees and guarantee a starting position in a corresponding Championships race for winners of all Challenge races. The Challenge winner must already be nominated to the Breeders’ Cup program or it must be nominated by the Championships’ pre-entry deadline of October 22 to receive the rewards.

In addition, Breeders’ Cup will provide a $40,000 travel stipend to the connections of all Championship starters from outside of North America and a $10,000 travel allowance for starters within North America that are stabled outside of Kentucky.

Last year, 45 Breeders’ Cup Challenge winners participated in the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, the largest contingent of “Win and You’re In” starters to run in the two-day event. Five of those Challenge winners also won a Championships race in 2017: Gun Runner in the Breeders’ Cup Classic; Forever Unbridled in the Longines Distaff; Roy H in the Twinspires Sprint; World Approval in the Breeders’ Cup Mile; and Rushing Fall in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.

“As international participation increases for Thoroughbred racing on a global scale, the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series continues to support horsemen and racing stables with important incentives, such as automatic starting positions and free entry fees, to qualify for the World Championships,” said Craig Fravel, Breeders’ Cup President and CEO. “We also recognize the outstanding work by our 28 racetrack and racing association partners around the world who conduct these Challenge races and thank them for their support and commitment to the series.”

Some of the highlights of this year’s Challenge Series are as follows:

• In addition to the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, NBC Sports Group will televise the “Breeders’ Cup Challenge: Win and You’re In Series presented by America’s Best Racing,” featuring 11 live programs in the U.S. from June to October. The full 2018 television schedule can be found here.

• There will be seven automatic berths awarded for the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, all Grade 1 races. Nonkono Yume (JPN) became the first horse to qualify for the Classic when he won the February Stakes at Tokyo Race Couse on February 18. The next automatic qualifier will be the Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs on June 16, followed by the Betfair.com Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park on July 29; the Whitney at Saratoga Race Course on August 4; the TVG Pacific Classic at Del Mar on August 18; the Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita Park on September 29; and The Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park on October 6.

• The Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot is a qualifying race for the new $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint. Breeders’ Cup is currently evaluating opportunities for domestic Challenge Series races for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint.

• As announced last week, four races, all run during the June 19-23 Royal Ascot meeting, have been added to this year’s Challenge schedule: The Queen Anne Stakes (G1), for 4-year-olds and older at one mile on turf (Mile); Prince of Wales’s Stakes (G1), for 4-year-olds and older at 1 ¼ miles on turf (Longines Turf); Norfolk Stakes (G2), for 2-year-old males and fillies at five furlongs (Juvenile Turf Sprint) and the Diamond Jubilee Stakes (G1) for 4-year-olds and older at six furlongs on turf (Turf Sprint).

• For the ninth consecutive year, the Breeders’ Cup will pay foal nominators of Challenge winners a $10,000 award.

International Challenge

The international portion of the series began on January 6 in South Africa at Kenilworth Racecourse, when Oh Susanna (AUS) won the Cartier Paddock Stakes (G1) and qualified for an automatic berth in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf, and Legal Eagle (SAF) captured the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate (G1) and gained an automatic berth into the Breeders’ Cup Mile.

On April 7 at Royal Randwick in Australia, Happy Clapper (AUS) won the Star Doncaster Mile (G1) and became the second horse to earn a free berth into the Mile. Last Saturday (April 14), Alizee (AUS) won the Coolmore Legacy Stakes (G1) at Royal Randwick and earned an automatic starting position into the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf.

The first North American race of the series will be the Shoemaker Mile (G1) at Santa Anita Park on May 28 for a free berth into the Breeders’ Cup Mile, followed by the Runhappy Metropolitan Handicap (G1) (Las Vegas Dirt Mile), the Ogden Phipps (G1) (Longines Distaff) and the Jaipur (Turf Sprint) at Belmont Park on the June 9 Belmont Stakes day program.


Road to the Breeders’ Cup Package

Get Michael’s Best Plays Report each Saturday which will include all of the U.S. based Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” races from now to October and Michael Dempsey’s 2-Day Breeders’ Cup Report.

Michael’s two day Breeders’ Cup Report includes his selections, analysis, fair odds line, and wagering recommendations for every race on the two-day championship event.

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