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The majority of horse racing fans will bet and watch meetings from the UK & Ireland although there are a few overseas meetings that catch the eye and get interest from the UK. The Breeders Cup meeting in America is certainly one of those, and with the addition of some extra races over the past few years, we are now seeing more and more UK horses, trainers and jockeys head over to take part.
The prize money on offer is huge, and as you would expect from any big sporting event in America, there is no expense spared when it comes to putting a show on. This is the crown jewel of horse racing in the USA and a meeting that attracts a worldwide audience. The meeting is held at different racecourses around America, and it has once been held in Canada. This gives the meeting a unique difference to other big meetings, as the venue will vary, and it is certainly something that punters should look out for and not get fooled by. For example, if a horse wins and takes to the track one year, don't assume the same will happen a year later at another track.
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The meeting is split across two days, with the action taking place on Friday and Saturday, late into the night for those watching in the UK time zone. There are some very good races on the first day but it is day two, Saturday night, when the top action takes place. There are currently 14 Breeders Cup Championship races that take place across the two days, with a handful of small supporting races before the card really kicks off.
Each of the 14 championship races has a prize pot of million or more, with the two biggest being the Breeders Cup Turf which is worth million and the feature Breeders Cup Classic which is worth million. These two are the two races that are the most talked about all season, and they are usually scheduled to be the final two races on the card on the Saturday fixture, ending the entire meeting with a bang as we see some of the best horses in the world going head to head for huge prize money.
Breeders Cup Betting Guide
It can be very tough to work out the different form lines between horses from the UK, Europe and America as well as the odd horse travelling from Asia and Australia. However, as far as general tips go there is one thing to look out for and this is to do with the dirt races that take place. This is a surface that UK punters are not used to working out and dealing with, but it can make a huge difference to the result. From being very fast and quick to being descriped as 'sloppy' after a lot of rain, there are many ways in which the dirt surface can be described and it is vitally important to take this into account. The differences between the dirt surface are bigger than those we see on turf in the UK, meaning they affect the result even more than we are used to.
When this is the case, it is important to ensure you know that your horse will go on the ground. When looking to narrow the field down, you can use the surface to work out who to take a closer look at and who to rule out. In the days leading up to any Breeders Cup meeting you will see plenty of talk about the going on both the turf and dirt surfaces. This will be even more the case if we are having extreme weather of any kind, and if this happens then it can pay for punters to keep a close eye on conditions and bet accordingly.
if you are comparing horses that have not ran on dirt before then look for how they have fared on the turf on both fast and easy surfaces, although this is by no means a proven method. This is also where the complication of having runners from many countries comes into it too, as many other countries don't have a dirt surface. Betting at the Breeders Cup meeting is certainly not easy, and a great test for the punters who decide to give it a go.
The Breeders Cup Classic
Usually the final race of the entire meeting, the Breeders Cup Classic offers million in prize money. This is a race that is ran on the dirt and over a distance of 1m2f (2000m) and this race is now seen as the fourth leg of horse racing in America, with the Triple Crown proceeding it, which involves:
- The Kentucky Derby
- Preakness Stakes
- Belmont Stakes.
We have only ever seen one horse complete the feat and win all four and that was back in 2015 when American Pharoah won all four and cemented himself as one of the greatest American horses we have ever seen. The only horses that usually try and win this are the American runners as no one else travels to the country for all four so if we get to the Breeders Cup and one American horse has dominated things so far, they are likely to come here to try and win the lot.
The race is generally seen as the fourth best in terms of prize money when compared to others around the world. The Pegasus World Cup (USA), Dubai World Cup (Dubai) and Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe (France) all offer higher pruses but the Breeders Cup Classic sits behind those as the fourth highest purse in the world, and the second highest in the USA behind the Pegasus. Three of those races including this one, with the exception being the Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe, are run on the dirt surface which is something that is used on a regular basis in America. However, it isn't seen as much in Europe, and when you couple that with the fact we have the Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe just a month before means that runners from the UK in this race are usually very low on numbers, with other races at the meeting seeing more.
Just one horse has won this race twice in the history of the race, and that was Tiznow. This horse won back to back Breeders Cup Classic's in the years 2000 & 2001 to make history, a feat that has not been repeated since.
Last 10 Winners
2018 - Accelerate
2017 - Gun Runner
2016 - Arrogate
2015 - American Pharoah
2014 - Bayern
2013 - Mucho Macho Man
2012 - Fort Larned
2011 - Drosselmeyer
2010 - Blame
2009 - Zenyatta
The Breeders Cup Turf
If you are looking at the big two races and wondering where you will see UK runners then this is the race you need to be looking at. The obvious reason for this is that this is the biggest turf race at the meeting, and European horses are used to running on the turf in their native countries, including the UK. This race has a prize purse of million, so a considerable amount even though it is less than the Breeders Cup Classic. It is run over slightly further, 1m4f (2200m) which also helps to split the runners between the two races.
The way that this race attracts a worldwide field is partly down to the 'win and you're in' races that are held in the build up to this race. We have 11 of those spread all over the world, and the winner of these races is automatically given an invitation to the Breeders Cup Turf. Of these 11 qualifying races, just four are ran in the US, so if we have seven different winners in the other seven around the world, this will give us a guaranteed minimum of 50% of the field being worldwide challengers. It also means that potentially 11 of the 14 runners are the qualifying winners, leaving just three positions for other entrants, which has increased the quality of these qualifying races as everyone wants to be in them.
Two horses have been lucky enough to win the Breeders Cup Turf on two separate occasions, and both horses were trained in the UK & Ireland which is great for racing in the area. These two are Conduit, who was trained by Sir Michael Stoute and won back to back turf races in 2008 and 2009 and also High Chaparral, trained by Aidan O'Brien and he won his titles in 2002 & 2003. The second of his victories was a dead heat in 2003, a race that went down as a thrilling renewal. You will notice many UK and Irish trainers on the roll of honour, especially over the past decade when more of our horses have made the trip across to the States, and none more so than Aidan O'Brien, who has won this race a remarkable six times.
Last 10 Winners
2018 - Enable
2017 - Talismanic
2016 - Highland Reel
2015 - Found
2014 - Main Sequence
2013 - Magician
2012 - Little Mike
2011 - St Nicholas Abbey
2010 - Dangerous Midge
2009 - Conduit
Supporting Races at the Breeders Cup Meeting
This meeting is not all about the main two races, we have two fantastic cards to look forward to, full of top grade races and top quality horses. With 14 top grade races across two days and some huge prize money, it should be no surprise to see a lot of UK runners heading over to the meeting. There are also now five big juvenile races, which is something else that attracts UK runners as we have a number of top two year olds who cannot run for this kind of prize money anywhere else in the world. We have seen in recent years that even smaller UK trainers have been sending over their best two year olds to race in these, especially the turf races that take place.
There will always be a split between the races taking place on turf and those that take place on dirt. The runners from the UK and the rest of Europe will always be more inclined to run on the turf races as this is what they are proven on, so if you are looking for homegrown horses to follow then you are likely to have a lot more interest in the turf races. the dirt races are still worth looking at though, even if you don't know the horses taking part. The Breeders Cup meeting is in someways the Royal Ascot of USA horse racing, a place for the very best horses to get together and take each other on so the US horses you are watching are the best they have on offer, even if you don't know of their names before the race takes place.
Another improvement over the past few seasons has been the creation of more races for fillies and mares, which is another big move and something that opens doors for other horses who are not quite top class. These fillies and mares get the chance to win a huge pot, enhance their stud value and win on the big stage all thanks to these races being created.