The Breeders’ Cup World Championships is North America’s end of year championship event for thoroughbred racing,
staged at a different track each November.
These championships have been in existence since 1984 as a single race day but from 2007 onwards they outgrew themselves and became the two-day event we now know and love. As of 2018 event prize money had grown to a total of over $30 million with the main race, the Breeders’ Cup Classic, worth a cool $6 million alone.
The idea is to bring the best horses from each division, including juveniles, sprinters, milers and “classic” horses together at the end of the racing season to see who will be crowned champion.
Typically we get to see the young Triple Crown horses clashing with the older generation in the Classic, a race that rates among the very best anywhere in the worldwide horse racing scene.
Over November 2nd and 3rd, 2018 we will see the 35th Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Churchill Downs in
Louisville, Kentucky, the home of the Kentucky Derby.
Thirteen other Grade 1 championship races will have already taken place over Friday and Saturday from 5½ furlongs up to a mile-and-a-half by the time we hopefully get to see the best of the US against some strong contenders from overseas in the closing event; the Breeders’ Cup Classic and betting the race makes it more fun!
Betting the various Breeders’ Cup races is simple and is one of the best ways to make yourself feel like you are taking part in the action, no matter how far from Louisville you may be. The three main bet types are the ‘win’, ‘place’ and ‘show’ bets and here’s an explanation of what they mean:
WIN – This one speaks for itself; your chosen horse must win for you to get paid.
PLACE – To win this bet, your horse needs to finish in the first 2 past the wire.
SHOW – This time, your horse must be in the top 3 to win the bet.
The payouts you can expect to receive depend not only on how much money is in the pari-mutuel purse, but also on the degree of difficulty. With this in mind, the highest payouts are on win bets, the second highest are on place bets and given that it is usually the easiest to get right, the lowest payouts are on show bets.
If you are feeling like a true wagering pro when betting the Breeders’ Cup you can try something a little different. Say for example you like two or more horses in a certain race but can’t choose between them, an EXACTA bet may be the wager for you.
An exacta basically requires you to predict which horses will finish 1st and 2nd and, if you get that right, can lead to a really big payout. If you’re not so sure that you can predict this accurately you can also ‘box’ your bet to give yourself a better chance.
Boxing means you will pay double the amount to place the bet, but it means that your chosen two horses can finish 1st or 2nd in any order and still give a reasonable payout.
If you think of yourself as a real pro try a TRIFECTA bet. This time you need to pick the 1st, 2nd and 3rd horses in the right order. Once again you can ‘box’ this bet and get paid out so long as your chosen horses finish in the first three, whatever the order. A SUPERFECTA will also be available concerning the first four to hit the wire but is incredibly tough to get right.
Placing Your Bets
Of course nothing much beats being at the track and walking up to the teller to collect your money when you’ve backed the winning horse, but for most of us it’s not realistic to make it to Millionaire’s Row at Louisville for the championships so betting here online is the way to go.
TVG will take you right to the heart of the Breeders’ Cup action allowing you to choose winners from the comfort of your own home. New customers can click here to create an account and benefit from our generous sign-up offer: deposit $100 and get a $100 deposit bonus. Sign up now!
Although the original premise of the Breeders’ Cup was to bring together North America’s best horses at the end of
the season, the Championships have become much more of an international affair over the years with some of the best
of England, Ireland and France making their way over the pond to compete.
This meet is timed nicely after most of the championship races in Europe have concluded, so for those horses still showing enough enthusiasm after a long season it’s an ideal chance to race in different conditions and perhaps supplement their income and their reputation before going off to the breeding sheds.
Given that they are raced on turf and involve the need for stamina, horses bred and especially trained in Europe have done particularly well in the Mile, the Turf and the Fillies & Mares Turf over the years.
As we mentioned above, the Breeders’ Cup became a two-day event back in 2007 after the championships became so
popular the organizers simply couldn’t fit this much great action into one day.
The first day is now known as Future Stars Friday and, along with some support races, features five top class juvenile races over various distances. Saturday is the big one though with over $21 million in purse money on offer across nine championship races, culminating in the Breeders’ Cup Classic itself. Here’s how the schedule looks this year:
|Race||Purse||Distance / Surface||Eligibility|
|BC Juvenile Fillies||$2,000,000||1 1/16 miles / dirt||Two-year-old fillies|
|BC Juvenile Fillies Turf||$1,000,000||1 mile / turf||Two-year-old fillies|
|BC Juvenile Turf||$1,000,000||1 mile / turf||Two-year-olds|
|BC Juvenile Turf Sprint||$1,000,000||5 furlongs / turf||Two-year-olds|
|BC Juvenile||$2,000,000||1 1/16 miles / dirt||Two-year-olds|
|Race||Purse||Distance / Surface||Eligibility|
|BC Mile||$2,000,000||1 mile / turf||Three-year-olds and up|
|BC Turf Sprint||$1,000,000||5 furlongs / turf||Three-year-olds and up|
|BC Filly and Mare Sprint||$1,000,000||7 furlongs / dirt||Females, three-year-olds and up|
|BC Filly and Mare Turf||$2,000,000||1 1/8 miles / turf||Females, three-year-olds and up|
|BC Sprint||$2,000,000||6 furlongs / dirt||Three-year-olds and up|
|BC Dirt Mile||$1,000,000||1 mile / dirt||Three-year-olds and up|
|BC Distaff||$2,000,000||1 1/8 miles / dirt||Females, three-year-olds and up|
|BC Turf||$4,000,000||1 1/2 miles / turf||Three-year-olds and up|
|BC Classic||$6,000,000||1 1/4 miles / dirt||Three-year-olds and up|
2017 was a vintage year for the Breeders’ Cup with such stars as Good Magic, Talismanic and Gun Runner all putting on a show at Del Mar to take their share of another record purse. Friday of the meeting was conducted in front of over 32,000 people, Forever Unbridled’s win in the $2,000,000 Distaff (now run Saturday) being the main feature.
|Race||Distance / Surface||Winner||Odds|
|Juvenile Fillies Turf||1 mile / turf||Rushing Fall||3.00|
|Dirt Mile||1 mile / dirt||Battle Of Midway||14.20|
|Juvenile Turf||1 mile / turf||Mendelssohn||4.80|
|Distaff||1 1/8 miles / dirt||Forever Unbridled||3.70|
Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin operation had a stunning day Saturday, his Talismanic winning the Turf for French trainer Andre Fabre while Charlie Appleby of England trained admirable filly Wuheida to victory in the Filly and
Mare Turf earlier on the card.
Good Magic marked himself out as a potential Triple Crown threat with his stunning 4¼ length win in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, though he did not manage to topple eventual winner Justify in the three big 2018 races.
By the time Steve Asmussen’s Gun Runner had taken the $6 million Classic 12 other champions had been crowned during the 34th running of one of the premier racing events in the world. Being a son of narrow Classic runner-up Giant’s Causeway, it was always in the stars Gun Runner would be a major player in the big race.
|Race||Distance / Surface||Winner||Odds|
|Juvenile Fillies||1 1/16 miles / dirt||Caledonia Road||17.30|
|Turf Sprint||5 furlongs / turf||Stormy Liberal||30.20|
|Filly & Mare Sprint||7 furlongs / dirt||Bar Of Gold||66.70|
|Filly & Mare Turf||1 1/8 miles / turf||Wuheida||11.20|
|Sprint||6 furlongs / dirt||Roy H||4.90|
|Mile||1 mile / turf||World Approval||2.70|
|Juvenile||1 1/16 miles / dirt||Good Magic||11.50|
|Turf||1 1/2 miles / turf||Talismanic||14.10|
|Classic||1 1/4 miles / dirt||Gun Runner||2.40|
In terms of what is required from each of the horses to be successful, it differs wildly in these championships with
both dirt and turf courses used over various distances from 5½ furlongs to a mile-and-a-half.
A maximum of 14 starters are allowed in each race, sometimes only twelve depending on any track limitations, so the qualification process has to be pretty stringent. Horses can be nominated to the Breeders’ Cup by their owners and trainers and will then be eligible for Breeders’ Cup Championships races, paying entry fees to take part.
The Breeders’ Cup organizers employ a points-based system for qualification with win, place and show horses earning 10, 6 and 4 points respectively in Grade One stakes races. 6, 4 and 2 points are awarded for Grade Two races and 4, 2 and 1 for Grade Three’s throughout the year.
Horses earning points in stakes races during the season means it is easier to select the final field in November should a race be oversubscribed.
Breeders’ Cup “Win And You’re In” Challenge Races take place from January right up to go time in November across the world and are the primary deciding factor in final Breeders’ Cup field, granting an automatic fees paid entry to winners. The third adjudicating system, should it be needed, is a panel of racing experts who can decide which horses should take part when a race is oversubscribed.
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Breeders’ Cup Venues
the championships are free to move around the country, relatively few locations have been entrusted with the
hosting this event given that a big enough capacity and a quality turf course are prerequisites.
The 2018 event takes place at Churchill Downs, the tenth time that Louisville has hosted it putting it one in front of Santa Anita. Other tracks to have hosted multiple times are Belmont Park (4) and Hollywood Park and Gulfstream with three each.
Tracks visited just a single time by the Championships are Aqueduct, Arlington Park, Del Mar, Keeneland, Lone Star Park, Monmouth and Woodbine in Canada.
Breeders’ Cup History
The championships having been in existence since 1984, then as a single racing day and now as the two-day event
have now become accustomed to, they have evolved and earned their place right at the very top table of
international horse racing.
Although the sport is packed full of tradition, new initiatives are usually well received within racing if the proposition is sound and these championships have been a great example of that, including how they’ve grown over the years and how they are perceived by overseas owners and trainers.
Originally created as the year-end thoroughbred championships of North American racing, the Breeders’ Cup quickly became known as much for international participation, especially visiting horses from England, Ireland and France, as it did for domestic champions.
Although the first championships took place in 1984, the idea came about in 1982 when leading owner John R. Gaines proposed the Breeders’ Cup during the Kentucky Derby Festival awards luncheon and we’re glad he did!
Some within the sport didn’t see the benefit of such a championship and at first did not want to support it, however luckily many more in the game did see the future potential of such an event and so on November 10, 1984 Hollywood Park hosted the first ever Breeders’ Cup World Championships.
The event grew rapidly in popularity after the inaugural meet and at first organizers took the championships on somewhat of a road show, Hollywood Park being followed by Aqueduct, Santa Anita, Churchill Downs, Gulfstream Park and Belmont all within its first seven years before certain tracks began to be favored more than others (see venues above).
Breeders’ Cup Today
The rise in prize money over the first 20 years and the bigger influx of European horses on the big day meant that the expansion needed since 2007 to a 2-day event was crucial in ensuring the Championships don’t become stale.
As of 2018 we will see fully 14 Grade One races across Friday November 2nd and Saturday November 3rd with around $30 million in prize money offered. Returning champions such as Roy H can look to add their names to a select band of horses to win at more than one Breeders’ Cup, while European champions such as Roaring Lion, Enable and Wild Illusion could all be making the trip across the pond.
You don’t have to be a professional handicapper to place a bet in any Breeders’ Cup race. Reading the form, work out
times or what sort of race conditions the horses prefer is a good start but remember to check in here for more info
on each horse as we near post time in November.
If the 2017 meet is anything to go by the Breeders’ Cup can really bridge the gap between those betting for fun and the pro handicappers. The pro’s could not have expected the sort of results we got last year with big Saturday winners going off at 20/1, 40/1, 66/1, 12/1 and 14/1 so if you found those, you were doing well!
Check back on our Breeders’ Cup Contenders page just before race time for a more in-depth look at who could be winning at Churchill Downs.
NBC Sports will have live TV coverage of the 2018 Breeders’ Cup at Churchill Downs and as usual there should be a
huge audience at home as well as at the track. Coverage of the 35th championships will include all 14 Grade One
races across November 2 & 3.
No longer though must we rely on getting to a television set in order to not miss one of the biggest race meets of the year anywhere in the world. Advances in technology means live streaming is available now on all major sporting events, including the Breeders’ Cup.
As well as live TV coverage there will be a chance to watch the Breeders’ Cup via live streaming online. The event can be streamed through NBC Sports Live Extra or by using the NCB Sports Live Extra App for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.
NBC’s online coverage mirrors their live televised coverage for the most part, taking in all the atmosphere and tradition of the two days as well as the racing itself. You may simply be asked for your TV provider and a password to access the online coverage.
Unforgettable Races Beamed Live
There have been some classic races at the Breeders’ Cup since 1984 beamed live to millions via TV and now online streaming. Some of the highlights have been:
Arrogate (2016 Classic)
Despite having won the Travers Stakes by an incredible 13 lengths in one of the best performances of the year, Arrogate did not come into this race as favorite as he had Dubai World Cup winner and former Kentucky Derby hero California Chrome to beat, but beat him he did.
American Pharoah (2015 Classic)
Classics are usually hard to win, however the Triple Crown winning favorite had no trouble in dispatching this field by over 6 lengths in one of the best ever Classic wins. American Pharoah had won the Triple Crown that year before astonishingly improving even more in this race, a huge performance.
Goldikova (2010 Mile)
Having already won this race in 2008 and 2009, the ever-popular mare came back to attempt an unprecedented third victory in 2010 and managed it in great style. She did even go for a fourth win, however that was not to be.
Tiznow (2001 Classic)
After the heroics of 2000, Tiznow defeated Europe’s top rated horse and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Sakhee to become the first ever two-time Breeders’ Cup Classic winner.
Tiznow (2000 Classic)
European tough nuts Giant’s Causeway and Kalanisi had each won Grade 1 races overseas and had two huge battles between them in England before coming to Churchill Downs. Kalanisi won the Turf race just before this race went off and Giant’s did not let down the form either, coming to apparently win this race before the “Iron Horse” himself was just out-battled by Tiznow. A classic indeed.
Da Hoss (1998 Mile)
Having already won the Mile in 1996 and been off the track for two years before winning a small prep race, Da Hoss looked like winning this at odds of 11/1 before being headed in the stretch. He found a second wind though and managed to get up on the wire to score, much to the delight of the Churchill Downs crowd.
Cigar (1995 Classic)
One of the all-time greats, Cigar came into the 1995 Classic at Belmont Park on a run of 11 straight wins and did not disappoint fans when swooping home to win this. He famously went on to win 18 in a row.
Ferdinand (1987 Classic)
It’s always hoped that Kentucky Derby winners can compete in the Classic and in this case we had double the fun. ’87 Kentucky Derby hero Alysheba came thundering home to attempt to win this, however he found the previous year’s Derby champion Ferdinand too tough and the older horse came out on top. Alysheba would come back the following year to emulate the feat and take the Classic for himself.
Remember you can bet right here on TVG and make sure you check in with us nearer post time for a more in-depth analysis from our experts. Check out the latest odds to see who is in the running this year. Remember to sign up today to receive your bonus!