by Contributing Author
The Breeders’ Cup races are American Thoroughbred racing’s year-end championship races. Inaugurated in 1984, the races are meant to solidify the top horse in any given racing division. The races move from track to track each year, both to combat horses and trainers claiming a home track advantage and to give exposure to a number of tracks over the decades.
When and where will the 2022 Breeders’ Cup be held? Let’s look a little bit closer at the racing schedule.
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You can find all of your Breeders’ Cup information at TwinSpires website.
The lower levels of racing continue year-round, but there are definite “seasons” of racing for the highest echelon.
This was even more prominent in 1984. International racing still happened, but it was not nearly as frequent. A few horses traveled to Europe for the Arc, and a few traveled to the US for our richest turf races, but the Japan Cup was brand new, and the Dubai World Cup would not be conceived for more than a decade.
That meant that there was a lull in racing from mid-October, when most of the major fall meets concluded, until spring, when racing came alive again with major handicaps and Triple Crown hopes. Winter racing did occur in California and Florida, but there were few prestigious targets for championship caliber horses.
There were also no races that were explicitly designed to be year-end-championship targets. That meant that top level horses often targeted different races, and the heavyweights of a division could go an entire season without a matchup.
The Breeders’ Cup races were scheduled specifically to address those concerns. They were scheduled at the end of the North American racing calendar to extend the racing season and confirm Eclipse Award champions. Having the races in the autumn also meant that European horses could travel and compete several weeks after their most prestigious races.
Originally, the Breeders’ Cup races took place on a single Saturday. As the number of races grew, a second night was needed to accommodate the schedule. Currently, all of the races for horses three years old and up are on Saturday, while the races for two-year-olds are held the Friday before. This day is known as Future Stars Friday, and it helps shine a light on the up-and-comers of the sport.
Mark your calendars: this year’s Breeders’ Cup races will be held Friday, November 4th and Saturday, November 5th.
The Breeders’ Cup races were never meant to have a permanent home.
Each year, a different track was meant to host the races. The intention was to be able to display a number of different tracks to television audiences worldwide. This helps spread the economic boost and burden of responsibility that comes with hosting the best of the best of racing.
For the first few decades of the series’ existence, they traveled all over the United States. Seven different states (California, New York, Kentucky, Florida, Illinois, Texas, and New Jersey) have hosted the series, and in 1996 the races occurred at Woodbine in Ontario, Canada.
In recent years, the series mainly rotates between California and Kentucky, though there has never been an official statement that the series will be restricted to those two states. Even so, these parts of the country provide a beautiful contrast to each other; the glitz and glamour of Hollywood alternating with Southern hospitality.
This year’s Breeders’ Cup races will be held at Keeneland Racetrack in Lexington, Kentucky. Keeneland has hosted the races on two other occasions, most notably including Triple Crown winner American Pharoah’s glorious victory in the Classic to seal the first- and to date, only- Grand Slam of Thoroughbred Racing.