Ten Things to Know About the Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland

The field for the 2016 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity runs toward the first turn, with winner Classic Empire (#11) settling behind the early leader. (Eclipse Sportswire)

Keeneland’s traditional October race meet opens with a bang this weekend, offering nine graded stakes races in the first three days. Eight of them are Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” races, including the $500,000 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity, which offers the winner a place in the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on Nov. 4 at Del Mar.

Learn more about the historic race with ten fun facts below.

1. The Breeders’ Futurity was inaugurated in 1910 at the Kentucky Association track, and it has also been run at Latonia (1931-33) and Churchill Downs (1943-45). This year is the 104th running.

2. Future Triple Crown winner Whirlaway won the 1940 edition of the race as part of his championship 2-year-old season.

3. Four horses won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile after winning the Breeders’ Futurity: Classic Empire (2016), Favorite Trick (1997), Boston Harbor (1996), and Tasso (1985). All four were named champion 2-year-old that year.

4. Race sponsor Claiborne Farm owned five winners of the race: Hall of Famer Round Table (1956) and his son Duel (1963), Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes third-place finisher Dike (1968), Kentucky Derby and Belmont winner Swale (1983) and champion 2-year-old Forty Niner (1987).

Dullahan winning the 2011 Breeders' Futurity. (Eclipse Sportswire)

5. Just three horses contested the race in 1943 and 1946. Eight years later a record 15 horses competed. In the last 10 years the race has attracted large fields vying for Grade 1 glory with an average of 12.1 horses competing. This year's renewal drew 13 starters.

6. In addition to a place in the Breeders’ Cup starting gate, the winner of the race also earns 10 points toward a place in the 2018 Kentucky Derby. Second- through fourth-place finishers earn 4, 2, and 1 point (s) respectively.

7. Since 1938, the Breeders’ Futurity has been run at four different distances ranging from six furlongs to 1 1/16 miles, the distance of the race since 1981.

8. The race has been won by 17 different jockeys in the last 19 years. The only jockeys to win it more than once in that timeframe are John Velazquez, who won aboard a pair of Todd Pletcher-trained horses, and Rafael Bejarano.

9. Dawn of War paid a record $74.60 on a $2 win bet when he won in 2005. Occupation’s $2 win payoff was a record low $2.20 in 1942.

10. Trainer Dale Romans has three wins in the race, and two of his winners won Keeneland’s major Kentucky Derby prep, the Blue Grass Stakes, the next spring: Dullahan (2011-12) and Brody’s Cause (2015-16). His other horse: 2005 upset winner Dawn of War. Romans has Free Drop Billy entered in this year’s Breeders’ Futurity.

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