Officials of the Breeders’ Cup and The Stronach Group Aug. 24 announced that the winner of the Oct. 3 Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico Race Course will earn an automatic starting position into the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1).
The announcement marks the first time that a Triple Crown race will be a part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge series.
The Breeders’ Cup Challenge is an international series of stakes races whose winners receive automatic starting positions and fees paid into corresponding races of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, scheduled to be held this year Nov. 6-7 at Keeneland. The $7 million, 1 1/4-mile Classic will be run Nov. 7.
“We are delighted to join The Stronach Group and the Maryland Jockey Club in welcoming the Preakness to this year’s Breeders’ Cup Challenge series, and that we will be able to provide the winning connections with an added incentive to run in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic,” said Drew Fleming, Breeders’ Cup president and CEO. “As a foundation race of the Triple Crown, and the premier event in the proud history of Maryland racing, we look forward to working together with The Stronach Group, and our partners at NBC Sports, to promote an exciting fall season for Thoroughbred racing.”
“The events of 2020 have for all of us been about responding to unforeseen challenges and making the best of them,” said Craig Fravel, CEO of The Stronach Group’s racing operations and 1/ST. “Many of those challenges including the changes to the Triple Crown have been unwelcome but becoming part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge series is most welcome and a fitting finale to the 3-year-old season as the horses and their connections make their way to Baltimore for the last leg of the Triple Crown. We look forward to hosting the best of America’s 3-year-old horses on Oct. 3 at the Preakness and to enjoying their success thereafter in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.”
Both the Preakness and the Classic will be broadcast live on NBC.
“With terrific racing ahead, we’re excited that the two biggest events of the fall months will be further connected with the Preakness Stakes winner earning a coveted berth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic,” said Jon Miller, president of programming for NBC and NBCSN.
Due to scheduling changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Preakness, normally the second race in the Triple Crown, will be the third jewel this year. The 1 3/16-mile race for 3-year-old was originally scheduled for May 16. The 2020 Triple Crown began June 20 with the Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets (G1), won by Tiz the Law at Belmont Park, and will be followed by the Sept. 5 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) at Churchill Downs.
Four Preakness winners have won the Breeders’ Cup Classic. In 2015, American Pharoah swept the Triple Crown and the Classic at Keeneland to become racing’s first “Grand Slam” winner. Preakness winners Sunday Silence (1989), Alysheba (1987), and Curlin (2007) also won the Classic. Alysheba captured the Classic in 1988 as a 4-year-old.
As part of the benefits of the Challenge series, the Breeders’ Cup will pay the $150,000 in entry fees for the Preakness winner to start in the Classic, which is limited to 14 starters. Breeders’ Cup will also provide a travel allowance of $10,000 for all North American starters based outside of Kentucky to compete in the World Championships. The Preakness winner must already be nominated to the Breeders’ Cup program or it must be nominated by the Championships’ pre-entry deadline of Oct. 26 to receive the rewards.
There are already six horses who have earned automatic starting positions into this year’s Classic through the Breeders’ Cup Challenge series: Mozu Ascot, winner of the Feb. 23 February Stakes (G1) at Tokyo Racecourse; Tom’s d’Etat, who took the June 27 Stephen Foster Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs; Authentic, winner of the July 18 TVG.com Haskell Stakes (G1) at Monmouth Park; Improbable, who won the Aug. 1 Whitney Stakes (G1) at Saratoga Race Course; Ghaiyyath, winner of the Aug. 19 Juddmonte International Stakes (G1) at York; and Maximum Security, who won the Aug. 22 TVG Pacific Classic (G1) at Del Mar.