The Breeders' Cup Classic | Race Profile

Major Racing Events > Breeders' Cup > Classic

Breeders' Cup World Championships

Breeders’ Cup Classic

The 2018 Breeders’ Cup Classic will be held at Churchill Downs on Saturday, November 3rd.

Key summer and fall “Win and You’re In” Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series races to the Classic:

July: Haskell Invitational at Saratoga
August: Whitney Stakes at Saratoga
August: Pacific Classic at Del Mar
September: Awesome Again Stakes
September: Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes

BC Classic Competition

Accelerate: The 5-year-old has won three times and placed 2nd in four starts this year winning the San Pasqual (G2), Santa Anita Handicap (G1) and Gold Cup at Santa Anita Stakes (G1). Recall Accelerate also won the TVG San Diego Handicap (G2) by more than 8 lengths last summer when 1-20 favorite Arrogate finished fourth.

Mendelssohn: The 2017 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) winner and 2018 UAE Derby (G2) winner by 18 lengths flopped in the Kentucky Derby, finishing last after a troubled start.

Mubtaahij: Trainer Bob Baffert’s likely third entry in the Classic. Mubtaahij finished 3rd in the Dubai World Cup this year and 2nd in his other three starts including the Santa Anita Handicap (G1) when he was more than 5 lengths behind the winner Accelerate.

Pavel: Won his first Grade 1 race in 10 starts by taking the Stephen Foster Handicap (G1) at Churchill Downs June 16. Earned his invite to the Classic in that race through the “Win and You’re In” Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series.

Thunder Snow: The 4-year-old Irish-bred won the Dubai World Cup (G1) and Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 (G2) this year and finished 2nd in his other two starts.

West Coast: This was the other Bob Baffert late-blooming 3-year-old last year that won 5 straight races including the Travers (G1) and Pennsylvania Derby (G1). His two races in 2018 were both runner-up finishes in the Pegasus World Cup (G1) and Dubai World Cup (G1). West Coast finished 3rd in the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic.


The Classic History

Though the Breeders’ Cup Classic does not have the history of its counterparts in the Triple Crown, it is well renowned as one of the biggest horse races of the year. With a debut in 1984, the Classic is the marquee main event of the Breeders’ Cup World Championship program and typically takes place the first weekend in November.

The venue for the Breeders’ Cup changes about every year as a goal to highlight various racing markets around the USA. Santa Anita and Churchill Downs have been two of the most frequent hosts.

To further acknowledge the prestige of the Breeders’ Cup Classic, the race was lumped in with the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes to form the coveted Grand Slam. This holy grail of American racing was thought to be unattainable, largely because a 38-year drought existed since Affirmed won the last Triple Crown in 1978 before the Breeders’ Cup even existed.

American Pharoah shattered that line of thinking in 2015 with one of the most impressive, single-year campaigns of any horse in the history of the sport. By winning the Triple Crown that season and the Breeders’ Cup Classic later in the year, American Pharoah became the first and only Grand Slam Champion in history.

The only other horse who came close was Sunday Silence who won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and the Breeders’ Cup Classic in 1989. Sunday Silence would come up short as the runner-up in that year’s Belmont Stakes, but was recognized for his achievement with a “Small Slam” which is attained by winning three of the four major races.

Beginning in 1984, the purse for the Breeders’ Cup Classic was $3,000,000. This was raised to $4,000,000 in 1996 and again to $5,000,000 in 2005. As of 2016, the purse was raised to $6,000,000 making it the second largest purse in American Thoroughbred racing behind the new Pegasus World Cup which will boast a $12 million purse.


BREEDERS’ CUP CLASSIC WINNERS & RECORDS

The Breeders’ Cup is open to any horse aged three years or more and is run over a distance of 1 ¼ miles, which is the same distance as the Kentucky Derby. Despite the uncapped age limit, the horse is typically won by horses aged three-years-old to five-years old.

Three horses have set track records in the Classic. Ghostzapper clocked in at 1:59.02 at Lone Star Park and recorded the fastest ever time at both the track and the Breeders’ Cup Classic. American Pharoah’s winning time of 2:00.17 in 2015 set a track record at Keeneland as well. Finally, Alphabet Soup’s time of 2:01.00 set a record at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto, Canada.

Tiznow is the only horse to have won the race twice, doing is in 2000 and 2001.

Zenyatta became the only female champion of the Breeders’ Cup Classic in 2009.

Only one ownership has won the race multiple times. That honor belongs to the Stronach Group who run Awesome Again in 1998 and Ghostzapper in 2004.

Chris McCarron and Jerry Bailey are the most successful riders at the Breeders’ Cup Classic with 5 wins each.

Bob Baffert is the reigning king of the Breeders’ Cup Classic having won the last three renewals with Arrogate (2016), American Pharoah (2015) and Bayern (2014) all capturing victory as three-year-olds.

American Pharoah also owns the largest margin of victory, beating Effinex by 6 ½ lengths at Santa Anita in 2015.

Click on a year to read a historical recap of the Breeders' Cup Classic race!

YEAR

HORSE

AGE

JOCKEY

TRAINER

TIME

VENUE

2017 Gun Runner 4 Florent Geroux Steve Asmussen 2:01:29 Del Mar

2016

Arrogate

3

Mike E. Smith

Bob Baffert

2:00.11

Santa Anita

2015

American Pharoah

3

Victor Espinoza

Bob Baffert

2:00.07

Keeneland

2014

Bayern

3

Martin Garcia

Bob Baffert

1:59.88

Santa Anita

2013

Mucho Macho Man

5

Gary Stevens

Katherine Ritvo

2:00.72

Santa Anita

2012

Fort Larned

4

Brian Hernandez

Ian Wilkes

2:00.11

Santa Anita

2011

Drosselmeyer

4

Mike E. Smith

William I. Mott

2:04.27

Churchill Downs

2010

Blame

4

Garrett Gomez

Albert M. Stall, Jr.

2:02.28

Churchill Downs

2009

Zenyatta†

5

Mike E. Smith

John Shirreffs

2:00.32

Santa Anita

2008

Raven's Pass

3

Frankie Dettori

John Gosden

1:59.27

Santa Anita

2007

Curlin

3

Robby Albarado

Steve Asmussen

2:00.59

Monmouth Park

2006

Invasor (ARG)

4

Fernando Jara

Kiaran McLaughlin

2:02.18

Churchill Downs

2005

Saint Liam

5

Jerry Bailey

Richard Dutrow

2:01.49

Belmont Park

2004

Ghostzapper

4

Javier Castellano

Robert J. Frankel

1:59.02

Lone Star Park

2003

Pleasantly Perfect

5

Alex Solis

Richard Mandella

1:59.88

Santa Anita

2002

Volponi

4

Jose Santos

Phillip G. Johnson

2:01.39

Arlington Park

2001

Tiznow

4

Chris McCarron

Jay M. Robbins

2:00.62

Belmont Park

2000

Tiznow

3

Chris McCarron

Jay M. Robbins

2:00.75

Churchill Downs

1999

Cat Thief

3

Pat Day

D. Wayne Lukas

1:59.52

Gulfstream Park

1998

Awesome Again

4

Pat Day

Patrick B. Byrne

2:02.16

Churchill Downs

1997

Skip Away

4

Mike E. Smith

Sonny Hine

1:59.16

Hollywood Park

1996

Alphabet Soup

5

Chris McCarron

David Hofmans

2:01.00

Woodbine

1995

Cigar

5

Jerry Bailey

William I. Mott

1:59.58

Belmont Park

1994

Concern

3

Jerry Bailey

Richard W. Small

2:02.41

Churchill Downs

1993

Arcangues (FR)

5

Jerry Bailey

Andre Fabre

2:00.83

Santa Anita

1992

A.P. Indy

3

Ed Delahoussaye

Neil Drysdale

2:00.20

Gulfstream Park

1991

Black Tie Affair

5

Jerry Bailey

Ernie T. Poulos

2:02.95

Churchill Downs

1990

Unbridled

3

Pat Day

Carl Nafzger

2:02.20

Belmont Park

1989

Sunday Silence

3

Chris McCarron

Charlie Whittingham

2:00.20

Gulfstream Park

1988

Alysheba

4

Chris McCarron

Jack Van Berg

2:04.80

Churchill Downs

1987

Ferdinand

4

Bill Shoemaker

Charlie Whittingham

2:01.40

Hollywood Park

1986

Skywalker

4

Laffit Pincay, Jr.

Michael Whittingham

2:00.40

Santa Anita

1985

Proud Truth

3

Jorge Velasquez

John M. Veitch

2:00.80

Aqueduct

1984

Wild Again

4

Pat Day

Vincent Timphony

2:03.40

Hollywood Park