The Breeders’ Cup announced its 2022 list of Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series races, known as the “Win and You’re In” events. The premise is simple: win one of these 82 races in 11 countries and you have a starting spot in one of the 14 Breeders’ Cup races.

Breeders' Cup Challenge Series
The Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series offers 82 races in 11 countries. This year’s US “Win and You’re In” races will take a regional angle toward filling the 14 races at the Nov. 4-5 Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Keeneland. (Image: Breeders’ Cup)

That brings Challenge Series winners to Keeneland on Nov. 4-5 for this year’s Breeders’ Cup World Championships. The lineup is the same: 14 Grade 1 races worth $31 million in purses. And the flagship $6 million Classic remains the pinnacle of the day.

This year’s Challenge Series, however, comes with a geographic twist. Breeders’ Cup officials reorganized the US series of races into regional events. In 11 of the 14 race divisions, there will be one Challenge Series race per region: East, Midwest, and West. The Juvenile Fillies and Juvenile Fillies Turf will be limited to two races.

The Classic remains the exception. That division will offer six US races for entry into the event’s marquee race.

“We’re excited to introduce our restructured regional format for the year’s domestic Challenge Series to better identify our top qualifiers from each part of the country as they move on to the World Championships,” said Dora Delgado, the Breeders’ Cup Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Officer in a statement. “The Win and You’re In format has been in place since 2007 and provides a fast track to the World Championships through an automatic selection into the race and free entry fees.”

Win a Challenge Series race, send bill to Breeders’ Cup

What this means for a horse who wins a Challenge Series race is paid entry fees and a guaranteed starting gate spot. It also means the Breeders’ Cup will provide a $10K travel allowance for any North American starters stabled outside Kentucky. International shippers from outside North America receive a $40K travel allowance.

The Breeders’ Cup allocated $5.18 million in free entry fees for all Challenge Series races.

Last year, 40 horses earned their way into the Breeders’ Cup through the Challenge Series. That list includes five winners: Knicks Go (Classic), Yibir (Turf), Ce Ce (Filly & Mare Sprint), Echo Zulu (Juvenile Fillies), and Corniche (Juvenile).

You know the names of most of these events

Most of the Challenge Series races — especially for the Classic — are some of America’s top races. Among the Classic’s Challenge Series races are the Grade 1 Whitney at Saratoga, the Grade 1 Haskell Stakes at Monmouth Park, the Grade 1 Pacific Classic at Del Mar, and the Grade 1 Awesome Again at Santa Anita Park.

“Win and You’re In” races for the Turf, considered the No. 2 race behind the Classic, include the Grade 1 Sword Dancer at Saratoga, the Grade 2 Del Mar Handicap, and the Grade 2 Calumet Turf Cup at Kentucky Downs.

The first US Challenge Series race is the May 30 Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile from Santa Anita. That sends its winner into the Breeders’ Cup Mile.

We have entrants already

Several international “Win and You’re In” races have run already, including the Group 1 February Stakes at Tokyo Racecourse, which Cafe Pharoah won. In doing so, he became the first horse to qualify for the Classic. Argentinian horse Village King earned the first Turf berth when he won the Gran Premio International Carlos Pellegrini in Argentina on Dec. 11.

The full schedule of Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series races is here.

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