DEL MAR, Calif. (Oct. 27, 2021) — Led by Knicks Go and Essential Quality, the multiple Grade 1-winning favorites for the $6 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1); $2 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) favorite Letruska; and defending Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) winner Tarnawa (IRE), 196 horses, including 56 from overseas, and eight returning champions, have been pre-entered for the 2021 Breeders’ Cup World Championships. The 56 international horses are a record number of international pre-entries for the Breeders’ Cup and span seven countries: Great Britain (26), Ireland (17), Japan (8), France (2), Argentina (1), Peru (1) and South Africa (1).
The 38th Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Thoroughbred racing’s most prestigious two-day global event, consisting of 14 races with purses and awards totaling more than $31 million, will be held at Del Mar racetrack in Del Mar, California, on Friday, Nov. 5 and Saturday, Nov. 6. On “Future Stars Friday,” there will be five World Championships races exclusively for 2-year-olds. There will be nine Breeders’ Cup races on the Saturday program. The Breeders’ Cup will be televised live on NBC, NBCSN and TVG. Coverage begins on Nov. 5 on NBCSN and TVG from 5-9 p.m. ET and continues on Nov. 6 on NBCSN and TVG from 2:30- 8 p.m. The World Championships conclude live and in prime time on NBC from 8-9 p.m. The eight returning champions for this year’s Breeders’ Cup are Knicks Go, Essential Quality, Tarnawa, Audarya (FR), Order of Australia (IRE), Gamine, Glass Slippers (GB) and Golden Pal.
In addition, 46 pre-entered horses earned automatic starting positions into the World Championships races through the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series.
“We are very proud of the magnificent array of talent of Group and Graded Stakes winners from around the world who have been pre-entered for this year’s World Championships,” said Drew Fleming, Breeders’ Cup President and CEO. “International competition at its highest level is the hallmark of the Breeders’ Cup, and we thank the horsemen and women who prepare these outstanding equine athletes for the biggest races in their careers for their participation. We also thank our breeders and nominators, whose support of our $31 million in purses and awards is a true testament to their commitment to the Championships.”
The $6 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), the climactic event of the Championships, will be run on the main track at 1 ¼ miles with a first-place owner’s prize of $3.1 million. On 14 occasions, the winner of the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic also has been named Horse of the Year, and this year’s Classic will once again have ramifications on the coveted year-end title. Five of the Top 15 Longines World’s Best Racehorses are pre-entered in the Classic.
Trainer Brad Cox, who tied the record for most victories in a World Championships with four at Keeneland last year, trains the standout older horse and top 3-year-old coming into this year’s Breeders’ Cup. Korea Racing Authority’s 5-year-old Knicks Go, who won last year’s Big Ass Fans Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1), has won four of six starts this year, punctuated by front-running victories in the Pegasus World Cup (G1) at Gulfstream Park, the Whitney (G1) at Saratoga ― in which he gained an automatic starting position into the Classic ― and the Lukas Classic (G3) at Churchill Downs in his most recent start on Oct. 2.
Essential Quality was voted 2-year-old champion last year on the basis of his win in the $2 million TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (G1), and like his stablemate, he’s been hard to defeat, winning 5-of-6 starts, and leads all North American runners in earnings with $2.88 million. The son of Tapit has lost just one race, when he was fourth in the Kentucky Derby (G1) but rebounded to win the Belmont (G1) in June and Saratoga’s Aug. 28 Runhappy Travers Stakes (G1) in his most recent start. Essential Quality finished four votes ahead of Knicks Go in the final Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic Rankings.
Two other 3-year-old could prove prominent in the Classic picture. Roadrunner Racing, William Strauss, Boat Racing, and Gainesway Stable’s Hot Rod Charlie finished second to Essential Quality in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at 94-1. This year, Hot Rod Charlie, trained by Doug O’Neill, was a hard-fought second to Essential Quality in the Belmont Stakes, then crossed the wire first in the TVG.com Haskell Stakes (G1), but was disqualified and placed seventh for interference. He came back on Sept. 25 to take the Pennsylvania Derby (G1) at Parx. Zedan Racing Stables’ Medina Spirit, who finished first in the Kentucky Derby, came back this summer to notch victories in the Shared Belief Stakes at Del Mar on Aug. 29 and then gained a free starting position into the Classic when he captured Santa Anita’s Awesome Again Stakes (G1) for trainer Bob Baffert.
Among the older horses who have won at Del Mar this year, Hronis Racing’s Tripoli, trained by John Sadler, took the “Win and You’re In” TVG Pacific Classic (G1) and C R K Stable’s Express Train won the San Diego Handicap (G2). Also, representing the California contingent is Calvin Nguyen’s Santa Anita Handicap (G1) winner Idol, and Steve Moger’s Stilleto Boy, who won the Iowa Derby in July and was second in the Awesome Again Stakes.
Trainer Steve Asmussen saddled Breeders’ Cup Classic winners and subsequent Horses of the Year with Curlin in 2007 and a determined Gun Runner in 2017 at Del Mar. This year, Asmussen has pre-entered George E. Hall and SportBLX Thoroughbred Corp.’s Max Player, who won two Breeders’ Cup Challenge races in the Classic division, taking the Suburban Stakes (G2) at Belmont in July and The Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) at Saratoga in September. Also making a big statement in New York was Bruce Lunsford’s Art Collector, who has won his last three starts, including a gate-to-wire triumph in the Woodward Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park on Oct. 2 for trainer Bill Mott.
Letruska Imposing Favorite in Longines Distaff
As powerful as Knicks Go has been in the Classic division, St. George Stable’s homebred Letruska has been the dominant older female of 2021, and headlines the $2 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) at 1 1/8 miles. Trained by Fausto Gutierrez, the 5-year-old mare has won six of seven starts this year, four of those being Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series races, taking the Ogden Phipps (G1) at Belmont Park, the Fleur de Lis (G2) at Churchill Downs, the Personal Ensign (G1) at Saratoga, and the Juddmonte Spinster (G1) Keeneland on Oct. 10. Back in April, Letruska signaled great things to come when she defeated two-time Distaff winner Monomoy Girl in the Apple Blossom (G1) at Oaklawn.
Among the challengers to Letruska is Shadwell Stable’s Malathaat. Trained by Todd Pletcher, Malathaat has been the top 3-year-old filly this year, taking the Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1) at Churchill Downs and the Alabama Stakes (G1) at Saratoga on Aug. 21, which was her most recent start. Qatar Racing Limited, Flurry Racing Stables, and Big Aut Farms’ Shedaresthedevil earned her free berth into the Distaff by taking the Clement L. Hirsch Stakes (G1) at Del Mar in August for trainer Brad Cox. Baoma Corporation’s Private Mission has won all three of her starts this year, and grabbed a free entry into the race when she won the Zenyatta Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita for trainer Bob Baffert. W.S. Farish’s Royal Flag, trained by Chad Brown, finished third to Letruska in the Personal Ensign, but came back to win the Beldame Stakes (G2) at Belmont Park by 4 ¼ lengths on Oct. 10.
Among the international challengers pre-entered for the Distaff are Pozo De Luna’s Blue Stripe (ARG), who took the “Win and You’re In” Gran Premio Criadores (G1) at Palermo in Argentina, and U Carrot Farm’s Marche Lorraine (JPN), who won four races in Japan this year, including the Breeders’ Gold Cup at Mombetsu in August for trainer Yoshito Yahagi.
Tarnawa Slated to Defend her Title in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf
H.H. Aga Khan Studs Tarnawa (IRE) completed an undefeated season last year when she scored a 1-length victory in the $4 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) at Keeneland, providing trainer Dermot Weld with his first Breeders’ Cup win. This year, the 5-year-old daughter of Shamardal made her seasonal debut August when she won the Ballyroan Stakes (G3) at Leopardstown, and has since been second in two Group 1 “Win and You’re In” races in Leopardstown’s Irish Champion Stakes in September and the Oct. 3 Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1).
Trainer Aidan O’Brien has won the Breeders’ Cup Turf a record six times. In June he saddled Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith and Mrs. John Magnier’s 4-year-old filly Love (IRE) to victory in Royal Ascot’s Prince of Wales’s Stakes (G1) and she earned a “Win and You’re In” for the Turf.
The Americans counter with Klaravich Stables’ Domestic Spending (GB), a two-time Grade 1 winner in 2021 for trainer Chad Brown. In May, the 4-year-old son of Kingman (GB) dead-heated for the win in the Churchill Downs Old Forester Bourbon Turf Classic and then won Belmont Park’s Resorts World Casino Manhattan Stakes in June. Domestic Spending, 6-for-8 lifetime, finished second by a neck in the Mr. D. Stakes (G1) at Arlington Park in August in his most recent start.
In California, LNJ Foxwood’s 5-year-old gelding United will be running in his third consecutive Breeders’ Cup Turf, finishing just a head behind Bricks and Mortar in 2019 and a disappointing eighth last year. Trained by Richard Mandella, United has three wins this year, including a last out score in the John Henry Turf Championship (G2) at Santa Anita. John O’Connor’s Astronaut earned a “Win and You’re In” to the Breeders’ Cup Turf when he scored a 24-1 upset in the Aug. 21 Del Mar Handicap Presented by the Japan Racing Association (G2) for trainer John Shirreffs.
A total of 24 horses have been pre-entered for the $2 million FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile presented by PDJF (G1) on turf, the largest of all the pre-entered fields this year. In the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Mile, Derek Smith, Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor, and Anne Marie O’Brien’s Order of Australia (IRE) came off the also-eligible list for trainer Aidan O’Brien and swept to victory at 73-1. This year, Order of Australia has just one win in six starts, taking the Grade 2 Romanised Minstrel Stakes at The Curragh in July. O’Brien has also pre-entered 3-year-old filly Mother Earth (IRE), who won the Prix Rothschild (G1) at Deauville in August. Godolphin’s Space Blues (IRE) is a 10-time winner, which includes a 2-length win on Oct. 3 in the Qatar Prix de la Foret (G1) at ParisLongchamp.
Three American “Win and You’re In” automatic qualifiers have been pre-entered. Spendthrift Farm and MyRacehorse’s Got Stormy, second in the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita, earned her way back into this year’s race with a win over males in Saratoga’s Fourstardave (G1) in August for trainer Mark Casse, while Bonne Chance Farm and Stud R D I’s In Love (BRZ) won the Oct. 9 Keeneland Turf Mile (G1) for trainer Paulo Lobo. Cannon Thoroughbreds’ homebred Smooth Like Strait gained his invitation by winning the Santa Anita’s Shoemaker Mile (G1) in May for trainer Michael McCarthy. Also in California,Bardy Farm and OG Boss’ Mo Forza has back-to-back wins in the Del Mar Mile Stakes (G2) and then the Oct. 2 City of Hope (G2) at Santa Anita for trainer Peter Miller.
Audarya is back for Maker’s Mark Filly & Mare Turf
The $2 million Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) at 1 3/8 miles is shaping up as a wide-open affair among the 14 championship races. Mrs. A.M. Swinburn’s Audarya (FR) defends her title. Trained by James Fanshawe, Audarya has not won in four starts this year, with her best performances being a second-place finish to Love in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes and another runner-up finish in the Prix Jean Romanet (G1) in August at Deauville. Audarya finished fourth in the “Win and You’re In” Prix de l’Opera (G1) behind Le Haras De La Gousserie’s Rougir (FR), who scored her first win of the year for trainer Cedric Rossi. On June 26 at Hipodromo De Monterrico in Lima, Peru, Arriba Arequipa’s Reina de Mollendo (ARG) won the Gran Premio Pamplona (G1), earning her an automatic spot in the Filly and Mare Turf. She is trained by Kenny McPeek.
In the U.S., George Krikorian’s War Like Goddess captured the “Win and You’re In” Flower Bowl (G1) on Sept. 4 at Saratoga for trainer Bill Mott and improved her record to 6-for-7 lifetime. Medallion Racing, Abbondanza Racing, and MyRacehorse’s Going to Vegas won Santa Anita’s Oct. 2 Rodeo Drive (G1) for trainer Richard Baltas to gain a free berth.
Jackie’s Warrior and Dr. Schivel lead Qatar Racing Breeders’ Cup Sprint
In the $2 million Qatar Racing Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) at 6 furlongs, J. Kirk and Judy Robison’s 3-year-old Jackie’s Warrior is the top sprinter from the East, winning four of his last five starts for trainer Steve Asmussen, including the H. Allen Jerkens Memorial (G1) at Saratoga and the Gallant Bob (G2) at Parx on Sept. 25. In California, another 3-year-old, Red Baron’s Barn, Rancho Temescal, William A. Branch and Reeves Thoroughbred Racing’s Dr. Schivel has dominated the sprinting scene, winning all three of his starts, including two “Win and You’re In” races. Trained by Mark Glatt, Dr. Schivel captured the 6-furlong Bing Crosby Stakes (G1) over the Del Mar strip on July 31 and came back on Oct. 2 to take the Santa Anita Sprint Championship Stakes (G2) by 3 ¼ lengths. Tom Kagele, Gary Barber, Altamira Racing Stable, and Madaket Stables’ C Z Rocket finished second in last year’s Sprint at Keeneland. This year he has won two of six starts, and finished third behind Dr. Schivel in both the Bing Crosby and the Santa Anita Sprint Championship for trainer Peter Miller. Mr. Amore Stable’s Firenze Fire is set for a record-tying fifth Breeders’ Cup start. Third in last year’s Sprint, Firenze Fire, trained by Kelly Breen, won the True North (G2) at Belmont in June.
In the $1 million Big Ass Fans Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) at 1 mile, WinStar Farm and CHC Inc’s Life Is Good, who was a Kentucky Derby favorite before being sidelined by injury in the spring, returned this summer and finished second by a neck to Jackie’s Warrior in the H. Allen Jerkens Stakes (G1) at Saratoga for trainer Todd Pletcher. In his next start, Life Is Good returned to the winner’s circle, taking the Kelso Handicap (G2) at Belmont Park on Sept. 25. Winchell Thoroughbreds and Willis Horton Racing’s Silver State, trained by Steve Asmussen, won his first four starts of the year, including a “Win and You’re In” berth for this race when he captured the Hill ‘N’ Dale Metropolitan Handicap (G1) at Belmont Park in June. Slam Dunk Racing, Richard Baltas, Jerry McClanahan, and Michael Nentwig’s Ginobili earned a free berth into the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile when he took the Pat O’Brien Stakes (G2) at Del Mar on Aug. 28.
In the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) at 7 furlongs, Michael Lund Petersen’s Gamine is the defending champion. The 4-year-old filly, trained by Bob Baffert, has won all four of her starts this year, including Grade 1 scores in the Derby City Distaff at Churchill Downs and the Kettle One Ballerina at Saratoga. Bo Hirsch’s Ce Ce, fifth in last year’s Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1), gained a “Win and You’re In” for the Filly & Mare Sprint when she won Gulfstream Park’s Princess Rooney (G2) in July. Hronis Racing’s Edgeway, trained by John Sadler, won the Rancho Bernardo Handicap (G3) at Del Mar in August.
In the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) at 5 furlongs, Bearstone Stud Limited’s 5-year-old mare Glass Slippers (GB) won last year’s Turf Sprint at Keeneland. Trained by Kevin Ryan, Glass Slippers has a trio of third-place finishes this year, including one last time out in the Prix de l’Abbaye de Longines (G1), which was won by Gary Devlin’s A Case of You (IRE), who gained a free berth into the Turf Sprint. Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith, and Westerberg’s 3-year-old Golden Pal was victorious in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2). Trained by Wesley Ward, Golden Pal comes into the race off a 2 ¼-length win in the Woodford Stakes presented by TVG (G2) at Keeneland.
Futures Stars Friday Brings Stellar Juvenile Race Lineup
The $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2) at 5 furlongs begins “Future Stars Friday.” Trainer Wesley Ward, seeking his third consecutive win in this race, has pre-entered Hat Creek Racing’s 2-year-old filly Averly Jane, who is undefeated in four starts and comes to Del Mar following a 3-length victory in Keeneland’s “Win and You’re In” Indian Summer Stakes on Oct. 10. Patricia’s Hope Stable and Richard Ravin’s unbeaten One Timer earned a free berth into this race by winning the Speakeasy Stakes at Santa Anita for trainer Larry Rivelli. Al Shaqab Racing’s Armor (GB), trained by Richard Hannon, won the Markel Molecomb Stakes (G3) at Goodwood in July, and was recently third in the Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes (G1) at Newmarket.
Four Breeders’ Cup Challenge winners are among those pre-entered $2 million NetJets Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) at 1 1/16 miles. L and N Racing and Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Echo Zulu has dominated East Coast 2-year-old fillies with runaway Grade 1 victories in the Spinaway at Saratoga and the Frizette at Belmont Park for trainer Steve Asmussen. Joey Platts, Old Bones Racing Stable, and Michael Lombardi’s Ain’t Easy made light work of Santa Anita’s Chandelier Stakes (G2), winning it on Oct. 1 by 4 ¾ lengths. From Kentucky, Hidden Brook Farm and Black Type Thoroughbreds’ Hidden Connection, trained by Bret Calhoun, gained an automatic starting position by winning the Pocahontas Stakes (G3) at Churchill Downs in September. Albaugh Family Stables’ Juju’s Map scored a “Win and You’re In” invitation by taking Keeneland’s Darley Alcibiades (G1) on Oct. 8 for trainer Brad Cox.
In the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) at 1 mile, Group 1 winner Hello You (IRE) is among the 18 pre-entered. Owned by Amo Racing Limited, Hello You gained an automatic starting position into the Juvenile Fillies Turf when she captured the Unibet Rockfel Stakes (G2) at Newmarket. Chris Walsh’s California Angel, trained by George Leonard III, came from last of 12 fillies to win the JPMorgan Chase Jessamine Stakes (G2) by a head at Keeneland and gained a free berth into the race. Treadway Racing Stable’s Sail By, trained by Leah Gyarmati, was a 1-length winner of Belmont’s Miss Grillo Stakes (G2) on Oct. 2.
In the $2 million TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (G1) at 1 1/16 miles, Speedway Stables’ Corniche broke his maiden going wire-to-wire at Del Mar on Sept. 4, and then was a front-running 3 ¼-length winner of the “Win and You’re In” American Pharoah Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita Park for trainer Bob Baffert. Rustlewood Farm’s Pappacap finished second in the American Pharoah. Trained Mark Casse, Pappacap, a son of 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Gun Runner, won the Grade 2 Best Pal Stakes at Del Mar in August. Lucky Seven Stable’s Rattle N Roll, trained by Kenny McPeek, also earned a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series victory into the Juvenile when he came from off the pace to score a 4 ¼-length victory in the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland on Oct. 9. Jim Bakke, Gerald Isbister, Coolmore Stud, and Peter Brant’s Jack Christopher, trained by Chad Brown, gained a free berth into the Juvenile by winning the Oct. 2 Champagne Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park. Kazuo Kato’s Jasper Great, a Kentucky-bred son of the late 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Arrogate, won on debut by 10 lengths on the all-weather surface at Hanshin Racecourse in Japan on Oct. 9 for trainer Hideyuki Mori.
The $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) at 1 mile, the closing race on Future Stars Friday, has an overflow field of 20 pre-entered. Godolphin’s Albahr (GB), already a four-time winner for trainer by Charlie Appleby, returns to North America following his 2 ¼-length victory in the “Win and You’re In” Summer Stakes (G1) at Woodbine in September. Phoenix Thoroughbreds’ Tiz the Bomb made a powerful stretch move to win the Castle & Key Bourbon Stakes (G2) at Keeneland to earn a free starting position into this race. ERJ Racing, Madaket Stables, and Dave Kenney’s Mackinnon, trained by Doug O’Neill, won the Del Mar Juvenile Stakes in September, and followed up that score by taking Santa Anita’s Zuma Beach Stakes on Oct. 3. D.J. Stable, Chester Broman, Sr., Mary Broman’s Coinage captured the With Anticipation Stakes at Saratoga on Sept. 1 for trainer Mark Casse. The dam of Coinage is Bar of Gold, who won the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint at Del Mar in 2017.
A maximum of 14 starters are allowed in each of the 14 Breeders’ Cup World Championships races with the exception of the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint, which are each limited to 12 starters. Breeders’ Cup Limited has adopted a field selection system to select runners in the event fields are oversubscribed. This system ranks horses in order of preference based on (i) Breeders’ Cup Challenge race winners, (ii) a point system, and (iii) the judgment of an international panel of racing experts. The field selection system was implemented following the taking of pre-entries on Monday, Oct. 25, to officially rank the oversubscribed fields. The Racing Secretaries and Directors Panel (the “Panel”) ranked all the horses pre-entered in the oversubscribed races as described above. After pre-entry, any vacancies in the fields will be filled by horses in order of Panel preference.
There will be up to four (4) also-eligible horses for each Championship race, except for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint, which will each have up to six (6). The also-eligible horses will be designated in accordance with the Panel’s order of preference for each Championship race that is oversubscribed at the time of pre-entry. Entry for the 14 Breeders’ Cup World Championships races will close at 10 a.m. PT on Monday, Nov. 1, and post positions for the races will be drawn at 2:30 p.m. PT. Scratch time for Friday Championship races will be 8 a.m. PT, Friday, Nov. 5, and scratch time for Saturday’s Championship races will be at 8 a.m. PT, Saturday, Nov. 6.
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Breeders Cup Press Release