Once the Triple Crown is run, racing fans turn their attention to the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, a two-day extravaganza of important stakes events for Thoroughbreds competing in various divisions according to age, sex, surface (dirt or turf) and distance.
Held in late October or early November, the Breeders’ Cup is the richest day of racing (and the richest sporting event overall) in North America and attracts top horses from around the globe.
The richest race, the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, is open to any horse 3 years old or older and is contested at 1 ¼ miles on the main track. Past winners include such legends as Alysheba, Sunday Silence, Cigar, Tiznow, Ghostzapper, Curlin, Zenyatta and American Pharoah.
There are a few ways for a horse to qualify for a Breeders’ Cup race. The first is by winning a Breeders’ Cup Challenge race, which are usually the most prestigious races in each division. The second is based on a points system, where horses are ranked based on their performance in a number of major races. The third way to gain entry is to be selected by a panel of experts. There are a maximum of 14 horses selected for each Breeders’ Cup Championship race. Seven who come from the Challenge races and points system and seven who have been selected by the experts. This ensures the highest quality of competition.