The Breeders’ Cup has announced the 2019 Challenge Series schedule, consisting of 86 automatic qualifying races, with the winners receiving automatic qualifying positions into corresponding Breeders’ Cup races.
This year’s series has 64 G1 events in 11 countries, and features seven new races, including the Qatar Prix de l‘Arc de Triomphe, and the first-ever European ‘Win and You’re In’ for the Breeders’ Cup Classic in the Juddmonte International at York.
The current 2019 full schedule is available here.
Horses from around the globe will be qualifying for the 36th Breeders’ Cup World Championships, to be held at Santa Anita Park on November 1-2. This year’s Championships consists of 14 races, 13 of them Grade 1s, with purses and awards totaling more than $30 million.
The Challenge Series, now in its 13th year, includes races at many of the world’s premier racetracks in 11 countries: U.S., Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, England, France, Ireland, Japan, Peru and South Africa.
As part of the enhanced benefits to connections, 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 21 to receive the rewards.
In addition, Breeders’ Cup will provide a $40,000 travel stipend to the connections of all Championship starters from outside North America and a $10,000 travel allowance for starters within North America that are stabled outside California.
Last year, 35 Breeders’ Cup Challenge winners took part in the Breeders’ Cup. Five of those (race listed in parenthesis below) also won a Championships race in 2018: Accelerate (TVG Pacific Classic & Awesome Again Stakes) in the Breeders’ Cup Classic; Sistercharlie (Beverly D Stakes) in the Maker’s Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf; Roy H (Santa Anita Sprint Championship) in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint; Jaywalk (Frizette Stakes) in the Tito’s Handmade Vodka Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and Game Winner (American Pharoah Stakes) in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
“We are both excited and proud with the expanded international reach of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series, and for the benefits and incentives available to participating horsemen, including automatic starting positions and paid entries into the World Championship races,” said Craig Fravel, Breeders’ Cup President and CEO.
“We also extend our gratitude to our new and existing racetrack partners in the 11 participating countries for their outstanding support and promotion of 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 2019 television schedule can be found here.
The Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe is now a part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge series. The winner of this year’s Arc will earn an automatic berth into the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf. Last year, two-time Arc winner Enable became the first horse to win the Arc and the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf in the same year. The Arc will anchor an enormous day of racing on October 6 at ParisLongchamp, which will include a total of five Breeders’ Cup Challenge races.
The Arc is one of seven new races added to the 2019 Challenge series. The six other new events are (G1s unless stated otherwise):
The Gran Premio International Carlos Pellegrini Stakes, which was held last December 15 and was won by Ricardo Benedicto's Stud Rubio B’s 3-year-old Il Mercato, who earned a free berth into the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf.
The Darley Prix Morny (Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint) at Deauville on August 18.
The Fourstardave (Breeders’ Cup Mile).
The Jockey Club Derby (Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf) at Belmont Park on September 7.
The G3 Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint (Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint).
The Cotillion Stakes (Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff) at Parx Racing on September 21.
The Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp Longines (Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint) on October 6.
There will be a record eight races awarding automatic berths into the Breeders’ Cup Classic, with the Juddmonte International at York in England on August 21 becoming the first Breeders’ Cup Challenge race in Europe to award a Classic berth to its winner. (The International had been a ‘Win and You’re In’ qualifier for the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf in previous years).
The first U.S. automatic qualifier will be the G2 Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs on June 15, followed by the TVG.com Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park on July 20, the Whitney at Saratoga on August 3; the TVG Pacific Classic at Del Mar on August 17 and the Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita Park and the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park, both scheduled for September 28.
Shigeo Takeda’s 5-year-old homebred Inti became the first horse to gain a free berth into the Classic with a ‘Win and You’re In’ score in the February Stakes at Tokyo on February 15.
For the tenth consecutive year, the Breeders’ Cup will pay foal nominators of Challenge winners a $10,000 award.
In addition to Il Mercato and Inti, two other horses also have gained automatic Breeders’ Cup Challenge berths already this year. On January 5 in South Africa at Kenilworth, Oh Susanna won the Cartier Paddock Stakes and qualified for an automatic berth in the Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf, and Do It Again captured the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate and gained an automatic berth into the Breeders’ Cup Mile.