Wednesday, April 12th, 2017   ( 3 years ago )

Del Mar to Host Five Breeders' Cup Challenge Races During Summer Meeting

The Breeders' Cup today announced its 2017 Breeders’ Cup Challenge series schedule, which will consist of 81 automatic qualifying stakes races into corresponding races of the Breeders' Cup World Championships. This year’s series, which includes 62 Grade/Group 1 events, will have 49 Challenge races held in the U.S. and Canada, and 32 races to be run outside of North America. (Complete 2017 schedule)

Horses from around the globe will be qualifying for the 34th Breeders’ Cup World Championships, which will be held, for the first time, at the Del Mar race track, near San Diego, California, on November 3 and 4, and televised live in the U.S. by the NBC Sports Group.

Del Mar will host five Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series races during its summer meeting:

This year, the NBC Sports Group will also televise the “Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series: Win and You’re In Series presented by Lane’s End Farm and America’s Best Racing,” featuring Challenge races across 11 programs in the U.S. from June until the World Championships. (Full 2017 television schedule

The Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series, now in its 11th year, will be held at many of the world’s premier racetracks in 13 countries: U.S., Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, England, France, Japan, Germany, Ireland, Peru and South Africa.

Race DateRace Name Grade DistanceAgeSexDivision
7/29/17 Bing Crosby S. I 6 Furlongs 3 YO & UP   TwinSpires Sprint
7/30/17 Clement L. Hirsch Stakes I 1 1/16 Miles 3 YO & UP F & M Longines Distaff
8/19/17 TVG Pacific Classic I 1 1/4 Miles 3 YO & UP   Classic
8/19/17 Del Mar Handicap II 1 3/8 Mile (T) 3 YO & UP   Longines Turf
8/26/17 Pat O'Brien S. II 7 Furlongs 3 YO & UP   Las Vegas Dirt Mile


As part of the enhanced benefits to horsemen in the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series, Breeders’ Cup will pay the entry fees and guarantee a starting position in a corresponding Championships race for winners of all Challenge races.

Breeders’ Cup will also provide travel allowances to all starters outside of California for this year’s Championships, including Challenge race winners. Breeders’ Cup will provide a $40,000 travel stipend to the connections of each Challenge winner from outside of North America and a $10,000 travel allowance for winners within North America that are stabled outside of California. The Challenge winner must already be nominated to the Breeders’ Cup program or it must be done by the Championships’ pre-entry deadline of October 23 to receive the rewards.

Last year, 43 Breeders’ Cup Challenge winners participated in the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, the second largest contingent of “Win and You’re In” starters to run in the two-day event. Two of those Challenge winners won Championships races: Classic Empire in the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and Highland Reel in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf. Challenge winners were represented in 11 of the 13 Championships races last year.”

“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 CEO. “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.”

“We’re delighted, of course, to take part in a winning idea like the Breeders’ Cup ‘Win and You’re In’ program,” said Del Mar Thoroughbred Club president and CEO Joe Harper. “With us hosting the Breeders’ Cup this year, their series has taken on a very special meaning for us.”    

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

  • There will be seven automatic berths awarded for the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, all grade 1 races: Gold Dream (JPN) became the first horse to qualify for the Classic when he won the February Stakes at Tokyo Race Couse on February 19. The next automatic qualifier will be the Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs on June 17, followed by the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park on July 30; the Whitney at Saratoga Race Course on August 5; the TVG Pacific Classic at Del Mar on August 19; the Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita Park on September 30 and The Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park on October 7.  
  • The series will include three new races: The Belmont Sprint Championship (G2) (TwinSpires Sprint), on June 10 at Belmont Park; the Highlander Stakes (G2) (Turf Sprint) on July 2 at Woodbine and the First Lady Stakes (G1) (Filly & Mare Turf) on October 7 at Keeneland.
  • For the eighth consecutive year, the Breeders’ Cup will pay foal nominators of Challenge winners a $10,000 award.

The international portion of the series began on January 7 in South Africa at Kenilworth Racecourse, when Bela Bela (SAF) won the Maine Chance Farms 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.

In February, Gold Dream (JPN) won the February Stakes (G1) at Tokyo Race Course and earned free berth into the Breeders’ Cup Classic. This month, at Royal Randwick in Australia, Chautauqua (AUS) won the Darley TJ Smith Stakes (G1) (Turf Sprint), It’s Somewhat won the Star Doncaster Mile (G1) (Mile), and Foxplay (AUS) won the Coolmore Legacy Queen of the Turf Stakes (G1) on April 8.

The first North American race of the series will be the Shoemaker Mile (G1) at Santa Anita Park on June 3 for an automatic berth into the Breeders’ Cup Mile, followed by the Metropolitan Handicap (GI) (Las Vegas Dirt Mile) and the Ogden Phipps (GI) (Longines Distaff) at Belmont Park on the June 10 Belmont Stakes day program.