The Breeders’ Cup World Championships announced its 2021 Challenge Series race schedule, which features a record nine Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” races to the event’s flagship Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Breeders' Cup Challenge Series
This year’s Breeders’ Cup World Championships return to Del Mar for the first time since 2017. There are 84 Challenge Series events offering berths in 14 races. (Image: Getty)

The $6 million Classic is an All-Star race, capping the two-day, 14-race, $31 million Breeders’ Cup. This year’s Breeders’ Cup returns to Del Mar, north of San Diego, from Nov. 5-6.

All told, there are 84 Challenge Series events. Each one offers a guaranteed Breeders’ Cup berth to that event’s designated race. The Breeders’ Cup pays the entry fees, along with a $40,000 travel allowance to any international starters and a $10,000 travel allowance for connections and starters stabled outside California.

The nine Classic Challenge Series races literally span the globe from Japan to California, to Kentucky, to New York, to New Jersey, and to England. Already, Café Pharoah captured the first spot, winning the Group 1 February Stakes at Tokyo Racecourse on Feb. 16. The next spot goes to the winner of the Grade 2 Stephen Foster Stakes at Churchill Downs on June 26.

Winner of Pacific Classic gets home dirt edge

The Suburban Stakes is one of two new Challenge Series races. The other, the Grade 2 Kentucky Cup at Kentucky Downs on Sept. 11, gives the winner a spot in the $4 million Breeders’ Cup Turf. That is considered the second most prestigious Breeders’ Cup race.

Additional “Win and You’re In” events

All of the following races, except the Grade 2 Foster and Suburban Stakes, are Grade 1s.

  • Suburban Stakes, Belmont Park July 3
  • Haskell Stakes, Monmouth Park, July 17
  • The Whitney, Saratoga, Aug. 7
  • International Stakes, York-England, Aug. 18
  • Pacific Classic, Del Mar, Aug. 21
  • Jockey Club Gold Cup, Saratoga, Sept. 4
  • Awesome Again Stakes, Santa Anita Park, Oct. 2

The Challenge Series puts the “world” in Breeders’ Cup World Championships. Ten countries, including Argentina, Canada, Chile, England, France, Ireland, Japan, Peru, South Africa, and the US play host to Challenge Series events.

Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series goes South American

The Argentinian-based horse Cool Day earned the first berth in the Turf. That came when he won a Group 1 at Hipodromo de San Isidro in Argentina. That’s one of four South American Challenge Series races, joining another Argentinian race and events in Chile and Peru.

South Africa put Jet Dark in the Breeders’ Cup Mile and Queen Supreme in the Filly & Mare Turf. Both captured South African “Win and You’re In” events.

The Royal Ascot meet features four Challenge Series races, with the Prince of Wales Stakes sending its winner to the Turf. The Queen Anne Stakes sends its champion to the Mile, while the Norfolk Stakes puts a Juvenile Turf berth on the line. The Diamond Jubilee Stakes offers the final Royal Ascot Breeders’ Cup spot, sending its champion to the Turf Sprint.

Oh Canada! Woodbine gets three Challenge Series races

Canada represents with three Grade 1 Challenge Series events at Woodbine, including the Woodbine Mile (Mile), the Natalma Stakes (Juvenile Fillies Turf), and the Summer Stakes (Juvenile Turf).

As announced earlier, all Challenge Series races will run medication-free, with no medications are allowed within 24 hours of race day.