The Breeders' Cup World Championships is an annual series of Grade I Thoroughbred horse races, operated by Breeders' Cup Limited, a company formed in 1982. From its inception in 1984 through 2006, it was a single-day event; starting in 2007, it expanded to two days. All sites have been in the United States, except in 1996, when the races were at the Woodbine Racetrack in Canada.
The attendance at the Breeders' Cup varies, depending mainly on the capacity of the host track. Santa Anita Park set the highest two-day attendance figure of 118,484 in 2016. The lowest two-day attendance was 69,584 in 2007 at Monmouth Park. The attendance typically only trails the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Kentucky Oaks (and in some years, the Belmont Stakes); for more information see American Thoroughbred Racing top Attended Events.
With the addition of three races for 2008, a total of $25.5 million was awarded over the two days, up from $23 million in 2007. With the subsequent removal of two races, the purses for the remaining thirteen races totaled $24.5 million in 2014, plus awards for foal and stallion nominators. Prior to the 2016 running, the total purses were raised from $26 million to $28 million. The purse of the Classic was raised from $5 million to $6 million, and the purse of the Longines Turf was increased from $3 million to $4 million. In 2018, total prizes and awards were increased to over $30 million after another race, the Juvenile Turf Sprint, was added and the purse for the Sprint was increased to $2 million.
Each Breeders' Cup race presents four Breeders' Cup trophies to the connections of the winner and a garland of flowers draped over the withers of the winning horse. Many Breeders' Cup winners will go on to win the Eclipse Award in their respective division. For example, of the eleven flat racehorse categories, seven of the Eclipse winners in 2015 had also won a Breeders' Cup race, while three others were in the money.
In the 2015 listing of the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA), three Breeders' Cup races are ranked among the top Grade 1 races in the world: the Classic (4th), the Turf (10th) and the Mile (12th). The Distaff is ranked second among the top Grade 1 races for fillies and mares.
The track condition was fast on the main track and good on the turf. Essential Quality established himself up as the early favorite for the 2021 Kentucky Derby by winning the Juvenile with a late run. Horses trained in Europe were winless in the three turf races, though European-bred Aunt Pearl did win the Juvenile Fillies Turf.
|Juvenile Turf Sprint||2:30 PM||5 1⁄2 furlongs (Turf)||2-year-olds||$1 million||Golden Pal (FL)||0.80*||3⁄4 lengths|
|Juvenile Turf||3:10 PM||presented by Coolmore America||1 mile (Turf)||2-year-old colts and geldings||$1 million||Fire at Will (FL)||30.20||3 lengths|
|Juvenile Fillies||3:50 PM||1 1⁄16 miles||2-year-old fillies||$2 million||Vequist(KY)||6.60||2 lengths|
|Juvenile Fillies Turf||4:30 PM||1 mile (Turf)||2-year-old fillies||$1 million||Aunt Pearl (IRE)||2.60*||2 1⁄2 lengths|
|Juvenile||5:10 PM||TVG presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare||1 1⁄16 miles||2-year-old colts and geldings||$2 million||Essential Quality (KY)||3.70||3⁄4 lengths|
The main track was again fast, and Gamine set a new track record for seven furlongs while winning the Filly & Mare Sprint, the first Breeders' Cup race on the card, and Knicks Go set another track record in the Dirt Mile. In his fourth try, Whitmore finally won the Sprint at age seven with a come-from-behind win. Monomoy Girl, who had won the Distaff in 2018 but missed all of her 2019 season due to illness and injury, came back to win again in 2020. And Authentic capped off the program by winning the Classic, almost certainly locking up American Horse of the Year honors.
On the turf course, Glass Slippers became the first horse shipped from Europe to win at the 2020 event and the first European to ever win the Turf Sprint. European-based horses swept the remainder of the turf races with Audarya, longshot Order of Australia and Tarnawa winning the Filly & Mare Turf, Mile and Turf respectively. Order of Australia's win was the biggest upset of the weekend, at 73-1, and led an Aidan O'Brien sweep of the Mile.
|Filly & Mare Sprint||12:02 PM||7 furlongs||3 yrs+ fillies & mares||$1 million||Gamine (KY)||1.05*||6 1⁄4 lengths|
|Turf Sprint||12:39 PM||5 1⁄2 furlongs (Turf)||3 yrs+||$1 million||Glass Slippers (GB)||10.20||1⁄2 length|
|Dirt Mile||1:18 PM||Big Ass Fans||1 mile||3 yrs+||$2 million||Knicks Go (MD)||1.80*||3 1⁄2 lengths|
|Filly & Mare Turf||1:57 PM||Maker's Mark||1 3⁄16 miles (Turf)||3 yrs+ fillies & mares||$2 million||Audarya (FR)||17.80||neck|
|Sprint||2:36 PM||6 furlongs||3 yrs+||$2 million||Whitmore (KY)||18.40||3 1⁄4 lengths|
|Mile||3:15 PM||Fanduel presented by the PDJF||1 mile (Turf)||3 yrs+||$2 million||Order of Australia (IRE)||73.20||1⁄2 lengths|
|Distaff||3:54 PM||Longines||1 1⁄8 miles||3 yrs+ fillies & mares||$2 million||Monomoy Girl||1.00*||1 3⁄4 lengths|
|Turf||4:33 PM||Longines||1 1⁄2 miles (Turf)||3 yrs+||$4 million||Tarnawa (IRE)||4.70||1 length|
|Classic||5:13 PM||Longines||1 1⁄4 miles||3 yrs+||$6 million||Authentic (KY)||4.20||2 1⁄4 lengths|