The Breeders’ Cup added two final Challenge Series races on Tuesday, giving “Win and You’re In” berths to the winners of Saturday’s Champion Stakes and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at England’s Ascot Racecourse.
Those two races are part of British Champions Day, one of the richest days in British racing, and one akin to the Breeders’ Cup itself. The Champion Stakes provides a berth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf, the penultimate race of the two-day Breeders’ Cup at Del Mar on Nov. 5-6. The Queen Elizabeth II Stakes offers its winner a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Mile.
Both the Champion Stakes and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes are Group 1s. The Champion Stakes offers the largest purse of any UK race this season at £1.2 million ($1.39 million). Horses in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes will run for £1 million ($1.16 million). The five British Champions races offer total prize money of more than £4 million ($4.7 million). That’s a 61% increase from last year’s purses.
Originally, Wednesday’s Grade 2 Jessamine Stakes from Keeneland was the final Challenge Series race. That 1 1/16-mile race for 2-year-old fillies brings a berth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf to its winner and an overflow field of 14 – including two also-eligibles – to its gate.
Breeders’ Cup, Qatar Racing partner up
On Tuesday, the Breeders’ Cup and Qatar Racing announced a multi-year partnership giving Qatar Racing title sponsorship of the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. The Qatari holding company QIPCO sponsors British Champions Day.
“The Breeders’ Cup is one of the most famous race meetings in the world, and to have the QIPCO Champion Stakes and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes as ‘Win and You’re In’ races on QIPCO British Champions Day will only help to evolve the prestige of the day,” Qatar Racing Chairman Sheikh Fahad bin Abdulla Al Thani said in a statement.
The Sheikh said this agreement will further “raise the profile of Qatar Racing as an international brand.” Racing under that brand is 2020 Kentucky Oaks winner Shedaresthedevil, who is tentatively entered in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff. Onsite signage at Del Mar captured on NBC and international rights holders will further amplify that brand during the Breeders’ Cup.
Champion Stakes a possible Challenge Series All-Star race
Headlining the Champion Stakes field are some of Europe’s best middle-distance runners, including defending champion Addeybb and Saudi Cup, Dubai Sheema Classic, and International winner Mishriff. Epsom Derby winner Adayar is a possibility, as are Aidan O’Brien fillies Love and Snowfall.
The Queen Elizabeth II features a choice duel between five-time Group 1 winner Palace Pier, defending champion The Revenant, and upstart 3-year-old Baaeed. The latter won the Group 1 Prix Du Moulin at ParisLongchamp.
Meanwhile, back in the US, Brad Cox’s Turnerloose comes into the Jessamine off a five-length romp in the Aristocrat Juvenile Fillies Stakes at Kentucky Downs. The daughter of 2016 Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist is 2-for-2. Another two-race winner (in three starts) is Dressed, who comes into Keeneland off a 3 ¼-length allowance optional claiming win at Kentucky Downs.