Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series Action is Heating Up
(Image Credit: Flickr / Scott Ableman)
Aside from the Triple Crown series, the next most exciting event for horse racing fans is the Breeders’ Cup races. The Breeders’ Cup races represent the best of the best on the track and the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series offers trainers and owners the opportunity to get their horses entered through “Win and You’re In” races held throughout the year and around the world.
The Breeders’ Cup in November is like baseball’s World Series in October. Several popular stakes races are part of this “Win and You’re In” series and includes the Stephen Foster Handicap (Gun Runner), Ogden Phipps Stakes (Songbird), Haskell Invitational (Girvin), The Whitney (Gun Runner), Arlington Million (Beach Patrol), Iroquois Stakes (The Tabulator), Woodbine Mile (World Approval), Awesome Again Stakes, Jockey Club Gold Cup Invitational and more.
As we finish off September, there are still many opportunities for horses to claim their positions. Gun Runner is currently the top ranked horse with two “Win and You’re In” wins including the Stephen Foster Handicap in June and the August Whitney Stakes. Gun Runner, a 4-year-old by Candy Ride, has had an amazing season with a second-place finish to Arrogate in the Dubai World Cup being his only blemish. If you can even call coming in second to the world’s richest horse a blemish. He will be a horse to watch in the Classic.
Girvin has fans excited as well. He pulled out a win by a nose in the Haskell Invitational. He will have a post position in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. The Classic is a mile and a quarter though, a distance that the colt has had a tough time with finishing way off the board in both the Derby and the Travers.
The amazing Songbird earned a spot in the Longines Distaff with her win in the Ogden Phipps Stakes, but after losing the Personal Ensign has since been retired due to complications with bone bruising and suspensory issues that would make continuing to train dangerous for the mare. The Medaglia d’Oro mare is owned by Fox Hill Farm.
World Approval earned himself a post in the Breeders’ Cup Mile by winning the $800,000 Woodbine Mile. John Velazquez had a perfect ride and was his fifth win in the Woodbine.
The Iroquois Stakes is not only a “Win and You’re In” challenge race, but also the start of the “Road to the Kentucky Derby.” The Tabulator won the $150,000 stakes race at Churchill Downs and also earned 10 points towards the Kentucky Derby. The colt is owned by Carolyn Wilson and trained by Larry Rivelli. The Tabulator earned a guaranteed spot in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
Two Grade 1 challenge races remain with the Awesome Again Stakes September 30th at Santa Anita and the Jockey Club Gold Cup October 7th at Belmont Park. Cupid, trained by Bob Baffert, is expected to run in the Awesome Again, but the Jockey Club Gold Cup is an option for him as well. Keen Ice may be seen in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. The winner of the Travers, West Coast, may race in either the Jockey Club Gold Cup or the Pennsylvania Derby. The action is one of the world’s best sports is getting exciting as we wrap up September and get closer to the first weekend in November!