15 fun facts about the 2022 Breeders' Cup

October 27th, 2022

The 2022 Breeders’ Cup is taking place on Nov. 4-5 at Keeneland. Elite racehorses from around the world are gathering for two days of prestigious and competitive racing.

Here are 15 fun facts you should know about the Breeders’ Cup:

1. The Breeders’ Cup is nearly 40 years old

The inaugural Breeders’ Cup was contested in 1984. The 2022 edition marks the 39th running of North America’s premier autumn racing event.

2. Many different racetracks host the Breeders’ Cup

The Breeders’ Cup isn’t tied down to any one racetrack. It travels around North America and has been contested at a dozen different tracks. In 2022, Keeneland is hosting the Breeders’ Cup for the third time, having previously held the event in 2015 and 2020.

3. There are 14 Breeders’ Cup races

The Breeders’ Cup isn’t just one championship-defining race. The two-day extravaganza is comprised of 14 races over a wide variety of distances and surfaces. In 2022, the shortest race is 5 1/2 furlongs and the longest is 1 1/2 miles.

4. The Breeders’ Cup is worth $29 million

Each Breeders’ Cup race is worth a minimum of $1 million, with the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) ranking as the richest race in North America with a $6 million purse. Combined, the 14 Breeders’ Cup races are worth $29 million.

5. The Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series awards qualifying berths

Qualifying to compete in the Breeders’ Cup is a complicated process involving points earned in graded stakes and selection by committee. However, any horse who wins a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series qualifying race receives an automatic fees-paid berth to a specific Breeders’ Cup race. The 2022 series featured 82 qualifying races in 11 different countries.

6. The 2022 Breeders’ Cup has drawn 205 pre-entries

Final entries for the 2022 Breeders’ Cup won’t be drawn until Monday, but the pre-entries released on Wednesday are impressive. A total of 205 horses (including 45 based outside of North America) have been pre-entered, 73 of which are Grade/Group 1 winners.

7. Eight Kentucky Derby winners have won at the Breeders’ Cup

Through the years, six Kentucky Derby (G1) winners have gone on to claim top honors in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, cementing their legacies as elite racehorses. In addition, two Kentucky Derby winners won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) six months before finding lasting fame in the Derby.

2022 Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike will seek to become the ninth Kentucky Derby/Breeders’ Cup winner when he challenges older rivals in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

8. Eight Kentucky Derby alumni have entered the 2022 Breeders’ Cup

Eight veterans of the Kentucky Derby have been pre-entered in the 2022 Breeders’ Cup. In addition to Rich Strike, the Derby alumni include Epicenter (second in 2022), Simplification (fourth in 2022), Taiba (12th in 2022), Cyberknife (18th in 2022), Hot Rod Charlie (second in 2021), O Besos (fifth in 2021), and Long Range Toddy (16th in 2019).

9. Five champions pre-entered the Breeders’ Cup

Five horses who have won Eclipse Awards as division champions are slated to contest the 2022 Breeders’ Cup. They are 2021 champion two-year-old filly Echo Zulu, 2021 champion male sprinter Jackie’s Warrior, 2021 champion female sprinter Ce Ce, 2021 champion three-year-old filly Malathaat, and 2020 champion turf male Channel Maker.

10. Golden Pal is aiming for a rare three-peat

Many horses have won two Breeders’ Cup races, but only Goldikova and Beholder can boast three Breeders’ Cup victories. Goldikova won the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) every year from 2008-10, while Beholder won the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) and the Breeders’ Cup Distaff in 2013 and 2016.

There’s a chance this exclusive club will grow in 2022. Golden Pal, winner of the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2) and 2021 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1), will seek a third Breeders’ Cup victory in the 2022 Turf Sprint.

11. Seven past Breeders’ Cup winners are returning

In addition to the above-mentioned Golden Pal, six other established Breeders’ Cup winners are back to defend (or reclaim) their titles. They include 2021 Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) winner Aloha West, 2021 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) heroine Ce Ce, 2021 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Echo Zulu, 2021 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) winner Life Is Good, 2021 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) hero Modern Games, and 2020 Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) winner Order of Australia.

12. Only eight horses are pre-entered in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff

The Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) has drawn a deep field of pre-entries with champion Malathaat and Grade 1 winners Blue Stripe, Clairiere, Nest, Search Results, Secret Oath, and Society among the notable names. But with only eight pre-entries in total (including one runner cross-entered in another race), the Distaff is expected to feature the smallest field of the Breeders’ Cup.

13. Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint draws an overflow of entries

A maximum of 12 horses are allowed to start in the 2022 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G1), but the always-popular race has drawn an abundant overflow of pre-entries. No fewer than 26 horses have been pre-entered in the 5 1/2-furlong grass dash.

14. Mike Smith has won more Breeders’ Cup races than any other jockey

Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith has outridden all other jockeys at the Breeders’ Cup. His 27 victories as of 2021 rank him nine wins ahead of runner-up John Velazquez (18 wins). Smith’s possible mounts for the 2022 Breeders’ Cup include Taiba in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

15. Wayne Lukas leads all trainers by Breeders’ Cup wins

Among trainers, D. Wayne Lukas has won more Breeders’ Cup races than any other. The Hall of Fame conditioner has saddled 20 Breeders’ Cup winners, two more than Bob Baffert (18). Lukas’s 2022 pre-entrants are Naughty Girl in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) and Secret Oath in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff.