On October 31st, the horse racing world will watch with excitement as Triple Crown champion American Pharoah and the remarkable mare Beholder face off in prestigious Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland racetrack, a showdown that could very well be one of the greatest horse races of all time. But while the Classic is a must-see event for any horse lover, it’s not the only highlight of the Breeders’ Cup. To help fill you in on the details of the championship event, here are four things to know about the Breeders’ Cup!
1. The Breeders’ Cup isn’t Just One Race
2. The Breeders’ Cup is for Horses of All Ages
Unlike the Triple Crown races, in which only three-year-old horses can compete, the majority of the Breeders’ Cup races are open to any Thoroughbred aged three or older, meaning that the winners in a given year can come back to defend their titles in future years. This year’s Breeders’ Cup will feature four 2014 champions back in action again, those being Turf Sprint winner Bobby’s Kitten, Filly & Mare Sprint winner Judy the Beauty, Mile winner Karakontie, and Distaff winner Untapable. In addition, 2011 Juvenile Fillies Turf winner Stephanie’s Kitten will try to win the Filly & Mare Turf, while 2012 Juvenile Fillies and 2013 Distaff champion Beholder will seek an unprecedented three-peat when she runs in the Classic against the best male horses in the country.
3. The Breeders’ Cup is an Early Proving Ground for Future Kentucky Derby Contenders
One of the highlights of every Breeders’ Cup is the Juvenile, the richest and most prestigious race in the country for two-year-old colts and geldings. It’s also an early test for potential Kentucky Derby contenders—in fact, 2015 Triple Crown champion American Pharoah was favored to win the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile until he was withdrawn before the race with a slight injury. The leading contenders for this year’s renewal of the Juvenile include Brody’s Cause and Exaggerator, the 1-2 finishers in the important Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland earlier this month, and the unbeaten California-based colt Nyquist.
4. The Breeders’ Cup is an International Event
Although it’s considered to be the championship event of U.S. horse racing, the Breeders’ Cup isn’t limited to American-based runners, and usually attracts a strong group of foreign-based horses as well. Horses from England, Ireland, France, Canada, Argentina, Chile, and Peru will all be competing this year, with Ireland’s talented Gleneagles among the entries for the Classic.
The Breeders’ Cup will be broadcast live on NBC Sports and the NBC Sports Network starting at 3:00 pm ET on October 30th—click here to view the full broadcast schedule. Be sure to tune in and watch as American Pharoah, Beholder, and the rest of the champion runners aim for glory at Keeneland!
J. Keeler Johnson is a writer, blogger, videographer, and racing enthusiast who considers Zenyatta to be his all-time favorite racehorse. He is the founder of the horse racing website TheTurfBoard.com and writes for the Bloodhorse.com blog Unlocking Winners.