2018 Breeders’ Cup Qualifying Races Schedule
Breeders’ Cup Championships Races
After dropping the Marathon from the Breeders’ Cup schedule in 2017, the BC Championships weekend has once again expanded with the addition of the $1 million Juvenile Turf Sprint race. The Juvenile Turf Sprint will join four other races for two-year-old colts and fillies to be held on November 2 from Churchill Downs, as a prelude to the nine other races that will be run the next day, culminating in the $7 million Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Combined, the Breeders’ Cup races offer starting gate slots for close to 200 horses, and rather than leave it up to the race selection committee, who are charged with putting togteher the best fields among nominated horse, owners can get their horses into their prefererred races if they can win a designated ‘Win And You’re In’ race between now and early October. Hitting the finish line first in a WAYI race means a guaranteed starting spot, a waiver of thousands of dollars in entry fees, and paid transportation to Churchill Downs for the races.
‘Win And You’re In’ Race Series
The WAYI series was already underway before the Triple Crown series even started, and since the Breeders’ Cup tries to draw horses from around the world, the first two races were held in Australia and South Africa in January. Although the horses that won those races now have gauranteed spots in the BC Filly & Mare Turf and the BC Mile, respectively, the owners and trainers will make the untimate decision whether to come at some point this summer.
In total, the WAYI series encompasses 82 races in 11 different countries and includes some of the top Grade 1 and Group 1 classification races in the world. Of those, just over half are held at United States tracks, and the first was run on the last weekend of May, when the Irish-bred Hunt won the (G1) Shoemaker Maker Mile at Santa Anita race course.
There are often multiple WAYI in races on the same day and on the undercard of the Belmont Stakes on June 9, Abel Tasman (BC Distaff), Disco Partner (BC Turf Sprint) and Bee Jersey (Dirt Mile) all gained spots in the Breeders’ Cup.
Upcoming Breeders’ Cup Qualifying Races
For American racing fans, upcoming WAYI races to be watching are the June 16 Stephen Foster Handicap from Churchill, a qualifier for the Breeders’ Cup Classic featuring 2017 Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes runners-up Lookin’ At Lee and Irish War Cry. Also on the same day from Churchill, the Fleur d’Lis will be run with the winner qualifying for the BC Distaff. In early July the Belmont Sprint Championships at Belmont and the Bing Crosby Stakes at Del Mar will each send a winner to the BC Turf Sprint, while the end of the month will see qualifying races for the Distaff and the Classic with the running if the Clement Hirsch Stakes at Del Mar and the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Race Track in New Jersey.
Also in mid-June England holds the historic Royal Ascot meet with four Breeders’ Cup WAYI races set for the week, while north of the border Woodbine’s Highlander Stakes on June 30 offers the winner entry into the BC Turf Sprint.
Things really get rolling in August with 15 races in total, including the Whitney Stakes (BC Classic), the Arlington Million (BC Turf), the Pacific Classic (Classic) and the Forego Stakes (Dirt Sprint) in the US; the Juddmonte International (BC Turf) and Yorkshire Oaks (Filly & Mare Turf) from the UK.
September has 21 WAYI qualifiers on the schedule with the first qualifying races for two-year-olds, including the Spinaway Stakes (BC Juvenile Fillies) and Iroquois Stakes (BC Juvenile). The Awesome Again Stakes on September 29 is another qualifier for the BC Classic.
The race series wraps up in early October with 17 races in just five days including the October 10 Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes from Belmont Park, the final WAYI qualifier for the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
For anyone wanting to get an early handle – and maybe a future bet – on 2018 Breeders’ Cup handicapping, there’s a lot of great racing to watch over the next few months.
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