Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series to Include 81 Races and Increased TV Coverage
The 34th Breeders’ Cup World Championships will be hosted by Del Mar for the first time in 2017. Television coverage of the Nov. 3-4 Breeders’ Cup will be provided by NBC Sports, which will televise 11 ‘Win and You’re In’ series races. The Challenge Series started in 2007 and has continued to grow with this year’s series featuring 81 automatic qualifying races in 13 different countries including 49 races in North America.
Added to the Challenge Series TV lineup for 2017 is the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs on June 17, which will be the first U.S. “Win and You’re In” for the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic. Also the Grade 1 Arlington Million from Arlington International Racecourse on Aug. 12; and the $1 million TVG Pacific Classic on August 19 at Del Mar has been added to NBC Sports TV coverage. The Pacific Classis is a “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Last year 43 Breeders’ Cup Challenge winners participated in the Breeders’ Cup. Two of those Challenge winners won Breeders’ Cup races: Classic Empire in the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and Highland Reel in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf.
There are seven races in the Challenge Series that will award automatic berths to the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic:
- February Stakes at Tokyo Racecourse on Feb. 19, won by Japanese-bred Gold Dream who is now qualified for the Classic.
- Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs on June 17
- Haskell Invitational Stakes at Monmouth Park on July 30
- Whitney Stakes at Saratoga Race Course on Aug. 5
- Pacific Classic at Del Mar on Aug. 19
- Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita Park on Sept. 30
- Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park on Oct. 7
The series also includes three new qualifying races: the Grade 2 Belmont Sprint Championship Stakes on June 10, a qualifying race for the TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Sprint; the Grade 2 Highlander Stakes at Woodbine on July 2, which offers a starting spot in the Turf Sprint; and the Grade 1 First Lady Stakes, a qualifying race for the Filly and Mare Turf, on Oct. 7 at Keeneland.
“We are very proud of the increased popularity and participation of horsemen around the world, who take advantage of the benefits of an automatic berth and paid entry fees offered through the Breeders’ Cup Challenge as the best way to secure a starting position in the World Championships,” said Craig Fravel, Breeders’ Cup president and chief executive officer. “Our racetrack and racing association partners are also a major part of the success of the series and we thank them for their participation in the program.”