The world’s leading horses will vie for fame and fortune when Keeneland Race Course hosts the 37th Breeders’ Cup World Championships this coming weekend. A total prize purse of $31 million is up for grabs, spread across 14 of the most prestigious races of the season. Read on for a detailed preview of this exciting two-day event.
What Is the Breeders’ Cup World Championships?
The Breeders’ Cup World Championships is an eagerly anticipated event that marks the denouement of the US thoroughbred racing season. The horses that have starred over the course of the year return for one last hurrah, and several international contenders also fly in to lock horns with them.
The meeting was inaugurated in 1984 and it takes place at a different racetrack each year. Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky, was chosen as the venue for 2020. There are 14 races in total, and 13 of them hold Grade 1 status.
The first seven races take place on Friday, and the World Championships will conclude with a seven-race card on Saturday. It culminates with the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
What Is the Biggest Race?
The $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic is the richest race of the year in the U.S., with a prize purse that leaves the Kentucky Derby firmly in the shade. The Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic will be the fourth richest race in the world this year, behind only the Saudi Cup, The Everest and the Japan Cup.
It takes place over 1 ¼ miles, with set weight conditions. The race is open to horses aged three and over, meaning the three-year-old runners that performed well in the Triple Crown races – the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes – can pit their wits against older rivals.
In 2015, Triple Crown winner American Pharaoh went on to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic, and it is now regarded as the unofficial fourth leg of the Triple Crown.
What Other Key Races Take Place at the Breeders’ Cup World Championship?
The second biggest race is the $4 million Breeders’ Cup Turf, which takes place over 1 ½ miles. It will be the penultimate race on Saturday.
All the other races are Grade 1 contests apart from the Juvenile Turf Sprint. The first day is known as Futures Stars Friday, as it unearths the horses that could dominate the big races in future years.
It includes the Juvenile Turf, Juvenile Fillies Turf, Juvenile Turf Sprint, Dirt Mile, Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, and the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. All have a $1 million prize purse, apart from the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint and the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.
The second day of action is called Championship Saturday. It features the Filly & Mare Sprint, Breeders’ Cup Mile, Breeders’ Cup Distaff, Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. They each carry prize money of $2 million, apart from the $1 million Filly & Mare Sprint. Then it is time for the Breeders’ Cup Turf and the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
What Will Be Different in 2020?
The main difference in 2020 will be the lack of fans in the stands. The Breeders’ Cup World Championship normally attracts a large crowd of bettors, but there will be a somewhat surreal atmosphere as it takes place behind closed doors this year.
The total prize money was supposed to increase by $4 million this year – it would have brought the Breeders’ Cup Classic to $7 million, the Turf to $6 million and the Dirt Mole to $2 million – but that increase has now been postponed to 2021 as a result of the financial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
It is the first time that Keeneland has hosted the Breeders’ Cup World Championship since 2015. American Pharaoh won the Classic that year by an impressive six-and-a-half lengths. Some industry insiders were skeptical of Keeneland’s ability to host the event, as they said the track and town were too small, but it proved to be a roaring success.
The track has a 1 1⁄16 miles dirt oval and a seven-and-a-half furlong (0.875 miles) turf oval. Each year it hosts famous races including the Breeders’ Futurity Stakes, Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes and Blue Grass Stakes.
Where Can I Watch the Breeders’ Cup World Championship?
NBC Sports has the exclusive broadcast rights to the 2020 Breeders’ Cup. Coverage begins on Friday, November 6, with the first race set to go off at 2.30pm. It ends with the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at 5.10pm.
The following day starts with the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint at 12.02pm. It concludes with the Breeders’ Cup Classic, which gets underway at 5.13pm.
What Horses Will Take Center Stage?
The highly-rated BetOnline racebook makes Tiz the Law the +300 favorite to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Tiz the Law romped to victory at the Belmont Stakes earlier this year. It was held before the Kentucky Derby due to the pandemic. Tiz the Law was then the clear favorite to win the Kentucky Derby, but finished second to Authentic.
The +350 second favorite with BetOnline is Bob Baffert’s four-year-old, Improbable, who has become one of the top ranked horses of 2020 after winning the Hollywood Gold Cup, Whitney and Awesome Again Stakes.
Maximum Security, whose career has been tainted by controversy, is next in the betting at +450. He finished first in the Kentucky Derby last year, only to be disqualified for interference, sparking an outcry. He went on to win the $20 million Saudi Cup – the richest race of all time – earlier this year, but the Saudis have thus far refused to pay out after trainer Jason Servis was indicted on multiple federal charges related to the administration of performance-enhancing drugs to his stable.
Maximum Security was allegedly administered a designer drug that was considered undetectable. He has now been transferred to the stable of Baffert, who saddled American Pharaoh and 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify.
Kentucky Derby winner Authentic is priced at +600, along with Tom’s d’Etat. By My Standards, Global Campaign, Tacitus, Higher Power and Title Ready are longer shots.
Swiss Skydiver, who became the first filly to win the Preakness Stakes since 2009 earlier this year, will swerve the Breeders’ Cup Classic and go for the Distaff instead. She is the second favorite after Monomoy Girl, who has already won the Ruffian Handicap and La Troienne Stakes this year.
Mogul and Magical are currently +300 joint favorites for the Breeders’ Cup Turf. Both horses are trained by Irish maestro Aidan O’Brien, who has a habit of saddling winners in the world’s most famous races. He has a strong contingent in Australia for the Melbourne Cup on Tuesday, and then he will turn his attention to Keeneland.
Magical, a five-year-old daughter of the legendary Galileo, is an 11-time Stakes winner. She has 12 victories and seven second-placed finishes under her belt from 26 starts. Magical finished narrowly second to two-time Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Enable in the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Turf. Mogul is a three-year-old colt that recently won the Group 1 Grand Prix de Paris at Longchamp.
O’Brien’s filly, Found, got the better of heavy favorite Golden Horn in the Breeders’ Cup Turf when it was last held at Keeneland. He also has Lipizzaner, Battleground, Mother Earth, Snowfall, Peaceful, Circus Maximus, Lope Y Fernandez and Order of Australia running during the two-day event.
How Can I Bet on the Breeders’ Cup World Championships?
These are the key betting options at your disposal when watching the Breeders’ Cup World Championships.
- Win: A simple bet on a horse crossing the finish line before all of its rivals.
- Place: A bet on a horse finishing either first or second in a race. The payout will be smaller than a win, but your chances of success are naturally higher.
- Show: A bet on a horse finishing either first, second or third in a race. The payout will considerably less than you would receive from a win or place bet, but your chances of success are higher and it is a popular way to bet on long shots.
- Across the Board: This combination wager is actually three separate bets rolled into one. You select a horse and then bet on the win, place and show, meaning a $10 across the board wager would require a total stake of $30.
- Exacta: This bet requires you to predict the winner and the horse that will finish second, in that exact order. You can also go for an exacta box, or an exacta wheel, while some bettors like to key a horse.
- Trifecta: This bet requires picking the winner, the runner-up and the third placed horse in that exact order.
- Superfecta: This exotic bet requires you to pick the winner, runner-up, third placed horse and fourth placed horse, in that exact order.
- Daily Double: this involves picking the winner of two different races on the same day. Both must win for your bet to pay out, but if successful you will be rewarded with a far higher payout than you would have gained by betting on each horse individually. A Pick 3 requires you to pick the winner of three different races, and you can go up to a Pick 6 if you are feeling really bold.
What Are the Best Betting Sites for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships?
You should stick to safe, secure, reliable sportsbooks that boast great racebook sections when betting on the Breeders’ Cup World Championships. BetOnline makes a great choice, as it has a 7% racebook rebate if you incur any losses. New customers will also receive a $25 risk-free horse racing bet. There are also other great alternatives such as Bovada, Heritage Sports, Intertops and YouWager are also great options for betting on the Breeders’ Cup World Championships.