In a few days, the world will focus their attention to Louisville, Kentucky as the Breeders’ Cup comes to town. Now in its 35th year, the Breeders’ Cup will be held on November 2nd and 3rd. The featured race of the Breeders’ Cup is the Classic, run at a mile and a quarter for a purse of $6,000,000.
This year, it is the opinion of many that the Breeders’ Cup Classic is a wide open affair, with no horse that is good enough to scare off others. Chances are the race will oversubscribe. In that case, there is a system in place to fill out the 14 spots in the Classic.
The system ranks horses in order of preference based upon (i) wins in Breeders’ Cup Challenge Races, (ii) a point system, and (iii) the judgment of a panel of racing experts. The first two criteria will assign a maximum of 7 horses for fields limited to 14 starters. The field selection system will be implemented as necessary following the taking of pre-entries on October 22, 2018, to officially rank the oversubscribed fields. The Racing Directors/Secretaries Panel (the “Panel”) will rank all the horses pre-entered in the oversubscribed races. After pre-entry, any vacancies in the fields will be filled by horses in order of panel preference.
The horses that won Breeders’ Cup Challenge Races (Win and You’re In races) for the Classic are Accelerate, Discreet Lover and Pavel. That leaves four spots for the top point getters. As of now, the top four would be Bravazo, McKinzie, Axelrod and Lone Sailor. All of those horses are three year olds and earned those points racing against three year olds only.
The final seven spots are selected by the Panel. One reason there is so many spots for the panel is to give lightly raced horses during the year or horses that had a late start to the year a fair chance to get into the race. Also, Europeans that have not raced in North America gets a fair chance to enter the race.
In this writer’s opinion, the horses that are being selected by the Panel are Mind Your Biscuits, Catholic Boy, West Coast, Mendelssohn, Yoshida, Roaring Lion and Thunder Snow. That would leave horses like Collected, Gunnevera, Seeking the Soul and War Story on the also eligible list. That is not the order I think should be the also eligible list, just listed in alphabetical order.
Some might feel it is unfair that a three year old can earn points racing against his age group and use it for races versus older horses. This year, there are three year olds who raced all year with modest success in their age group, that are getting in the Classic via points over the horses that I mentioned earlier that are probably getting left out, who in the opinion of many, are probably better suited to be competitive in the Classic.
I don’t envy the Panel with the final choice but it is something that they need to do. Does the system need tweaking?, probably. Maybe it is time to create a series of races to qualify for the Breeders’ Cup races. Maybe only use points earned in Breeders’ Cup Challenge Races for determining who gets in the races via points. Still have the Panel select the remaining Balance of the field.
When the pre entries are announced on Wednesday, I am sure there will be controversy and unhappy connections. Hopefully this will lead into the Breeders’ Cup revisiting the process of selecting horses into the races and possibly find a method to even out the playing field between the three year olds and older horses.