It's been a half century since the Kansas City Chiefs won the Super Bowl. In fact, it's been 50 years since the Chiefs went to the Super Bowl. But Kansas City is favored to get there this year. The Chiefs go into the AFC Championship Game as 7.5-point favorites over the Tennessee Titans. Meanwhile, the San Francisco 49ers are seven-point favorites over the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game.
2018 Road To The Breeders' Cup
2018 Breeders' Cup Schedule
The 13 races that make up the two-day Breeders' Cup schedule are designed to offer a wide array of horses - both male and female - racing at their specialty distance on either dirt or turf tracks. The total purses for the races range from $1 million to $7 million for the Breeders' Cup Classic, which is always the final race of Day 2. Typically the Breeders' Cup opens with four races on the Friday, and the other nine on the Saturday. The races are limited to 14 starters, with the exception being the shortest race, the Turf Sprint, which is limited to 12.
Qualifying For The Breeders' Cup Races
Unlike the Kentucky Derby, which holds a qualifying series of races where horses need to earn points to get a spot in the starting gate, there are a couple different ways that horses qualify to run. One way is to win one of the Breeders' Cup Challenge series of races, which are held all over the world, beginning with a pair of races in South Africa in January, and including races in Australia, Japan, Argentina, Brazil, the UK, Ireland, France, Chile, Canada and the United States.
Up to seven spots of the 14 (or six in the Turf Sprint) are awarded to either these race-winning horses, if the owner chooses to enter them, or to horses that have gained points in graded-stakes races in the United States or Canada. For example, winning a Grade 1 race is worth 10 points, running third in a Grade 3 race is worth one point.
Once half the field for each race has been set through this method, the other half is decided by a selection committee, who look at all the horses that have been pre-entered for each race and rank them based on prior racing achievements.
Over the years there have been a couple of controversial instances regarding the Breeders' Cup entries. The most infamous issue probably occurred in 1996, when a horse named Rick's Natural Star that had never won a race worth more than $2500, had never run at a distance of 1 1/2 miles, and never raced on the turf - and in fact hadn't raced in 14 months - was entered to run in the 1 1/2 mile BC Turf. He was hopelessly overmatched and finished the race a quarter-mile behind the rest of the field. It has been widely accepted that entering the horse was simply a publicity stunt by the owner who wished to promote a medication he had claimed to have invented that helped horses recover from injury.
Following that the organizers of the Breeder's Cup inserted a clause that they could disallow an entry for any reason, and they exercised this right in 2017 when they refused the entry of a horse that would have been making its first-ever lifetime start in the Breeders' Cup.
It cost an owner $30,000 to run in a race, and pre-entries are taken one month before the event, with any horse being eligible to be entered into two races at that time. It is after these pre-entries are made that the final selection for the field begins, using the criteria outlined above.
From a North American racing fan's perspective, the Breeders' Cup season really starts to get underway in June, when the "Win And Your In" challenge series of races kick off, typically with the Shoemaker Mile at Santa Anita Park. The final challenge series race in North America is typically the Jessamine Stakes at Keeneland, won in 2017 by Rushing Fall, who would in fact go on to win the 2017 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.
Throughout the 10 months leading up to the 2018 Breeders' Cup we'll be following all the action in the Breeders' Cup Challenge Series and covering all the big races, which you can always bet with an account at a top-rated online racebook.
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