Breeders’ Cup Classic

 The 2017 Breeder’s Cup Classic, is a grade one race, run over 1  1/4 miles and suitable for horses three years and older. It’s run on a dirt surface and is held on a different course each year as part of the Breeder’s Cup Championship. The changes in venue have not hindered the race, or Championship itself one bit, speaking to its popularity both casual punters and professional gamblers alike.

Last year the Breeders’ Cup Classic was won by Gun Runner at the Del Mar racetrack which was the first time the venue had held the race in the history of the event. TheTriple Crown (Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes) and Breeders’ Cup Classic combined, are known to many as the Grand Slam of Thoroughbred racing, due to the gravitas of the races involved.  The Classic is deemed by some to be the top thoroughbred race of the year, though the aforementioned Triple Crown races also have a claim to that. In monetary terms though it’s close to the top of the pile.

The Breeders’ Cup World Championships as a whole, established in 1982, attracts race fans worldwide to  tune in on their tv screens, or attend on course, for this racing extravaganza. The course for this race stretches and shifts from one side to the other adding to a unique and often spellbinding occasion. Initially starting as a single day event from 1984, the event has been extended to two days from 2007. One of the two days is dedicated to fillies.

The Breeders’ Cup was the brainchild of John R. Gaines in a moment that took place at the awards lunchon for the Kentucky Derby Festival in 1982. Being a leading thoroughbred owner and breeder, he wanted to change the perception of the sport. Although the event faced mistrust initially from the racing community, it did manage to garner the support of acclaimed trainer John Nerud and others, and looked to have an audience on a domestic and global level.

A total increase of about 25 million dollars in the overall purse was also injected making it the richest turf festival in the world. $6 million of that is for the Breeder’s Cup Classic alone. Thoroughbred Tiznow is the only horse to have won the Breeders’ Cup Classic twice, back to back in 2000 and 2001.

Kentucky Derby

 Popularly known as ‘the run for the roses’ due to the blanket of roses spread over the winner, the Kentucky Derby is a race that is held in Louisville, Kentucky, United States every year. It is a stakes race for three year olds and above run over a distance of 10 furlong . The Kentucky Derby festival itself stretches over a time period of two weeks. The commencement of the race was in 1875, making it the oldest sports event run in the United States.

Having visited and explored the leading horse racing sites in England and France in 1872, William Clark , the grandson of Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr of Lewis and Clark expedition fame, was inspired to start an event with the same kind of excitement and prestige attached. He was first and foremost inspired by the Epsom Downs racecourse in England. The Louisville Jockey Club was founded by Clark after returning back to Kentucky with a substantial amount of money raised for the construction of a racetrack on the land bestowed upon him by his Uncles, Henry and John Churchill. Initially, the racetrack was visualised as a gathering place for the families and people of the city.

During the inceptive years, the race was mostly dominated by black riders which were successfully proven by the fact that black riders won more than half of the first 25 Kentucky Derby runs. This pattern continued for decades unless backward thinking Jim Crow laws resulted in many of these individuals  losing their jonbs. The running distance was cut from 12 furlong to 10 furlong after complaints from the racing community in 1896.

In 1919, Sir Barton was the first one to win the prestigious Triple Crown which conists of winning the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes. Since that time 12 more horses have won all three triple crown races, most recently Justify in 2018.