The 40th running of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships is just less than ten weeks away. Its weekend festival of racing will once again culminate at Santa Anita Park in the green and beautiful Arcadia, California, on November 3-4.
The annual event will still pay a whopping $31+ million in purses and awards over the weekend. This year, 14 Grade 1 Championship races will compete for reward, spread across the two days.
Before its weekend festival’s Future Stars Friday and Breeders Cup Classic, the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series ”Win and You’re In” will be held globally first. Check these prep races this September and October to see the next potential Breeders’ Cup World Champion.
Kentucky Turf Cup
With $1.7 million in purse money, the FanDuel Kentucky Turf Cup will feature four Grade 2 stakes and two Grade 3s this weekend, September 9. It’ll be televised live by FanDuel TV at the lucrative Kentucky Downs meet. The special first post is at 11:30 a.m. (Central Time).
The Grade 2 Thoroughbred horse race is for three-year-olds and older horses at 1+1⁄2 miles. This Monday, an overflow field of 16 was entered, but four of which are still on the ”also-eligible” list, needing some scratches to run.
Pick five, and Pick four will close out the 12-race program. A 50-cent Super Hi-5 wagering will be offered for each of these all-graded stakes. However, if nobody can correctly pick the top five finishers in order, the pool will be carried over to the next race.
Besides the FanDuel Kentucky Turf Cup, other million-dollar graded-stakes races will be held on the same day at Kentucky Downs. They’re primarily full fields, with betting value for each race. This weekend is definitely a circle and a must-bet!
Matron Stakes and KPMG Champions Juvenile Stakes
Another event this September 9 is the Irish Champions Festival. It’s Ireland’s biggest weekend of the Flat season with €4.5million or $4.8 million (USD) in purse and rewards up for grabs across 16 races spread over two days of top-class action.
Among the 16 events, Coolmore America ’Justify’ Matron Stakes (Group 1), Al Basti Equiworld, Dubai Flying Five (G1), and KPMG Champions Juvenile Stakes (Group 2) will be part of the ”Win and You’re In” Challenge Series races. All will be held at Racecard Leopardstown.
Ricoh Woodbine Mile
Canada will also have an epic Turf showcase at Woodbine, Toronto, Canada, on September 16. On the schedule, Ricoh Woodbine Mile is the most reputable not only because it has a massive impact on the odds on the breeders cup as part of the ”Win and You’re In” Challenge Series races but also because of its $1 million in purse and rewards.
The Mile is another Grade I stakes race at 1 mile (8 furlongs). It has been attracting world-class three-year-old or older equine athletes to battle on the famed E.P. Taylor Turf Course. Moreover, Natalma Stakes and Summer Stakes, both part of the ”Win and You’re In” Challenge Series, will be held on the same date and venue.
Awesome Again Stakes
Formerly the Goodwood, the $300,000 Awesome Again Stakes (G1) will run again during the Fall Meet at Santa Anita Park, Los Angeles, California, on September 30. It’s a nine-furlong (1 1⁄8 miles) for horses aged three years and older.
Awesome Again Stakes is named for Canadian Hall of Fame thoroughbred ”Awesome Again” and has been a crucial prep race for the World Championship on the West Coast. As part of the Challenge Series, the victors of it will become a Breeders Cup ”Win and You’re In” qualifier.
Princess Rooney Invitational
The Princess Rooney Invitational Stakes is a seven-furlong race (3⁄4 mile) sprint on the dirt for three-year-old or older fillies and mares. It was usually held in late June or early July, but this year, it has been moved to October 7, causing it to downgrade to Grade 3.
The American Graded Stakes Committee (AGSC) said that with the Stakes’ new calendar, it’ll be hard to attract a grade 2-level field. This is because other filly and mare sprints carrying graded stakes status will also be offered on or close to the same date, October 7.
One thing that remained the same is that the Stakes can still award a “Win & You’re In” start in the Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) at the Breeders’ Cup. It’ll also be run at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Florida.
The winners of these races gain an automatic bid to race in the Breeders’ Cup World Championships this November. But even without guaranteed starts from wins, other hopefuls (called “also eligibles” or AE) may still obtain opportunities for entry through a points system, with factors including graded race quality and won prize money from major race performances this 2023.