By the Numbers: 2021 Breeders’ Cup Classic

Racing
Gun Runner won the 2017 Breeders' Cup Classic at Del Mar to cap off a season that would earn him Horse of the Year honors. The Breeders' Cup returns to Del Mar for 2021. (Eclipse Sportswire)

The Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic is one of the most important races in the world and the horses who compete in it race for a share of a $6 million purse that also makes it one of the richest races globally.

This year’s race will be held Nov. 6 at Del Mar and – as it usually does – the Classic will have major implications on determining the winner of Horse of the Year at the 2021 Eclipse Awards.

Go behind the numbers of this year’s Classic with the facts and figures below.


0 – The number of times expected Breeders’ Cup Classic favorite Knicks Go has competed in a race longer than 1 1/8 miles. The front-runner would need to carry his speed an extra eighth of a mile Nov. 6 at Del Mar in the 1 ¼-mile Classic.

American Pharoah (Eclipse Sportswire)

7-to-10 – Odds to win on both Hall of Famer Cigar (1996) and 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah (2015), tied for the shortest-priced winners in the race’s history with a $3.40 return on a $2 win bet.

1 – The number of lifetime losses from nine career starts for Essential Quality, the winner of the 2020 TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Presented by TAA who has amassed five wins in six starts this season. Essential Quality’s wins in 2021 include the 1 ½-mile Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets and the 1 ¼-mile Runhappy Travers Stakes. His lone defeat to date came when fourth in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve behind fellow Classic contender Medina Spirit.

1 ¼ miles – The distance of the race. It’s known as the “classic” distance in American racing and it is the same distance as the Kentucky Derby.

2 – The number of Breeders’ Cup Classic wins by Tiznow (2000 and 2001). He’s the only horse to have won it twice.

2 – The number of horses who have both won the Breeders’ Cup Classic and sired (fathered) a horse who won the Classic. Awesome Again won the race in 1998 and sired 2004 victor Ghostzapper; Curlin won the 2007 Classic and is the sire of 2019 winner Vino Rosso.

3 – The length of the current winning streak for three of the leading contenders for this year’s Classic. Expected favorite Knicks Go, Belmont Stakes winner Essential Quality, and Woodward Stakes winner Art Collector all enter the Breeders’ Cup Classic having won three straight races.

5 – The Classic has been decided by a nose (the slimmest margin of victory) on five occasions, most recently when Bayern defeated Toast of New York in 2014.

5 – The record number of Breeders’ Cup Classic wins shared by Hall of Fame jockeys Jerry Bailey and Chris McCarron. Fellow Hall of Famer Mike Smith has four wins in the race and could join them this year should he be named to ride one of the contenders.

6 ½ lengths – The record-breaking winning margin when American Pharoah won the 2015 Classic.

Knicks Go (Eclipse Sportswire)

18 ¾ lengths – The combined margin of victory in his last three starts for probable favorite Knicks Go, who enters the Classic off a front-running, four-length romp in the Lukas Classic Stakes Oct. 2 at Churchill Downs.

21 – The number of times the Horse of the Year (racing’s highest year-end honor) title has gone to a horse who competed in the Classic. The Classic winner was named Horse of the Year on 14 of those occasions, including Authentic last year.

24 – The number of times the Classic winner was age 4 or older. In the other 13 editions, the winner was a 3-year-old.

$24.86 – Average winning payout on a $2 win bet on the Classic winner. It has the third-highest average payout of any current Breeders’ Cup race. The Filly and Mare Sprint ranks first at $27.02.

27% – The success rate of the betting favorite in the race. The favorite has won 10 of 37 editions.

38 – This year is the 38th edition of the race. It has been the Breeders’ Cup centerpiece since the event’s inception in 1984.

56 – The age of Hall of Fame jockey Bill Shoemaker when he won the 1987 Breeders’ Cup Classic aboard Ferdinand. Shoemaker is the oldest rider to win a Breeders’ Cup race in the history of the World Championships.

$64.60 – Winning $2 payout on the first-ever Breeders’ Cup Classic, when Wild Again won at odds of 31.30-1 in 1984.

$269.20 – The record $2 win payout in the Classic, when Arcangues won at the astronomical odds of 133.60-1 in 1993. It’s the highest win payout in the entire Breeders’ Cup event history.

$6,000,000 – Total purse of this year’s Classic. The winner gets $3.3 million of that.

$9,768,279 – The combined purse earnings of the two leading contenders for the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Classic, both trained by Brad Cox. Knicks Go has amassed $5,553,135 in four seasons of racing, while Essential Quality has earned $4,125144 in two seasons.

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