Preview to the Breeders Cup Festival

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The Breeders' Cup Festival - held this year at Churchill Downs in North America, is an annual series of Grade 1 Championship races, operated by Breeders’ Cup Limited. 

Back in 1982, John Gaines led a group of thoroughbred breeders from central Kentucky to map out plans, to create an end-of-year culminating championship. It was made an event where horses from across the world could meet at the climax of the flat racing season, and to crown champions from different divisions across either the turf or dirt. It is an event that celebrates the best of worldwide horse racing, and helps to build the market and profile both racing and breeding. This is how the Breeders Cup was formed.


  • Breeders' Cup Classic
  • Breeders' Cup Distaff
  • Breeders' Cup Mile
  • Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint
  • Breeders' Cup Turf
  • Breeders' Cup Juvenile
  • Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint
  • Breeders' Cup Sprint
  • Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf
  • Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies
  • Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf
  • Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile
  • Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf
  • Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint


Despite having only been formed almost fourty years ago, the history that has come out of the festival has been paramount. Since its inauguration in the 80's, the Breeders' Cup has served up some of the most spine-tingling finishes in racing history, propelling champions into legends, and giving fans memories to savour for a lifetime.

The feature race, is the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic, and it has been won by some of the greatest Thoroughbreds from around the globe. That honour roll features Triple Crown champion American Pharoah, who became only the fifth Derby winner to land this famous double in 2015. A year later, we witnessed an outstanding clash between California Chrome and Arrogate, two of the best in the sport, where the latter claimed victory with the narrowest of margins. Last year, Gun Runner was the worthy winner of the big prize.

The $2 million Breeders' Cup Distaff is exclusively for the fillies and mares. Ran over a mile-and-a-quarter, there have been many to scream out their name following success here. Recently, Beholder turned over odds-on favourite and unbeaten filly Songbird, who was considered unbeatable before the off.

The only horse to win three times at the Breeders Cup meeting was the spectacular French mare Goldikova, who won three consecutive runnings of the Mile on turf. In 2015, Tepin became the sixth female to defeat the boys in the Mile, but the first without a European background to do so. Tepin also went on, to win the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot, six months later.

Europeans have historically dominated the 1 1/2 mile Turf, led by two-time champs Conduit and High Chaparral. This trend continued in fine throttle when the finish in 2015 was fought out between Irish filly and future Arc second Found and British Derby winner Golden Horn, who went on to finish one better than Found, by winning an Arc at Paris Longchamp the month before this meeting. Found prevailed here though, becoming only the third filly and first 3yo filly to win the Turf. In 1999 the Turf received a companion event for females, the Filly & Mare Turf, whose greatest winner to-date is unquestionably two-time champion Ouija Board.


This time around, England, Ireland and the rest of Europe are certainly sending their best, headlined by the recent Arc winner Enable. Enable heads to the Breeders Cup Turf, where she could be joined by stablemate Roaring Lion, however he could duck out for a place in the Breeders Cup Classic. It is expected to be the lion's final start as a racehorse before being retired, whereas Enable's future will not be confirmed until after this race.

Europe also send the likes of Waldgeist, Polydream and Talismanic. O'Brien will send duo Mendelssohn and Magical, along with the best of the rest from Britain, featuring Soldiers Call, Expert Eye and Line of Duty.

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