2023 Breeders' Cup trainer and jockey trends

November 4th, 2023

The 40th Breeders' Cup World Championships will return to Santa Anita for a record-extending 11th time in the history of the event, where a number of legendary trainers and jockeys will look to further their mark on the prestigious two-day festival.

Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas will not be represented at Santa Anita on Nov. 3 and 4, but currently he's the record holder for most Breeders' Cup victories by a trainer, with 20.

Baffert closing in on Lukas' Breeders' Cup record

Lukas' post at No. 1 may be in danger, however, with Bob Baffert nearing Lukas' total, and he's pre-entered into seven different Breeders' Cup races, with multiple entries in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, as well. Heading into this year's Breeders' Cup, Baffert owns 18 wins, and his more than $39 million in earnings is another Breeders' Cup record for a trainer. He's also the leader in victories in the Breeders' Cup Classic, with four, and is tied with Lukas, with five titles apiece, in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. At Santa Anita, Baffert has won two of the last three Classics held at the track.

Third in total Breeders' Cup victories is Chad Brown and Aidan O'Brien, with 16 each. Brown's barn will be well-represented at the 2023 Breeders' Cup, particularly in the Filly & Mare Turf, where he pre-entered three runners — multiple graded stakes winner Gina Romantica, last year's second-place finisher in the race In Italian, and recent Waya (G3) hero McKulick.

Brown, O'Brien own the turf

Brown has already won the Filly & Mare Turf a record four times, while O'Brien has been particularly dominant in the Turf and Juvenile Turf with a record six victories in each.

O'Brien, who visited the winner's circle three times at last year's Breeders' Cup, pre-entered 13 horses this year, the most by any trainer.

Mike Smith looks for 28th Breeders' Cup win

When it comes to the leading riders at the Breeders' Cup, Mike Smith is in a class of his own. The 2018 Triple Crown-winning jockey has earned 27 Breeders' Cup victories throughout his career, eight more than the next-leading rider, John Velazquez. Smith has also collected more than $38 million in earnings, another Breeders’ Cup record. If he can win with Geaux Rocket Ride in this year's Classic, he'll tie Jerry Bailey and Chris McCarron for most wins (five) in the race.

Four-time Eclipse Award winner Irad Ortiz Jr. is next in line with 17 total Breeders' Cup victories. Ortiz won three Breeders' Cup races in 2022 aboard Forte (Juvenile), Goodnight Olive (Filly & Mare Sprint), and Elite Power (Sprint) and was runner-up with Pleasant Passage in the Juvenile Fillies Turf, but failed to secure the Bill Shoemaker Award for the first time since 2017.

Given annually to the top jockey at the Breeders' Cup, four-time winner Ortiz was unseated by Ryan Moore in 2022, after Moore won with Tuesday in the Filly & Mare Turf, Victoria Road in the Juvenile Turf, Meditate in the Juvenile Fillies Turf, and he finished second with Stone Age (Turf), Emaraaty Ana (Turf Sprint), and Dramatised (Juvenile Turf Sprint).

Women in the Breeders' Cup

The Breeders' Cup Classic could produce a unique piece of history at Santa Anita in 2023, as Jena Antonucci looks to become the second female trainer to win the marquee Breeders' Cup race. Antonucci already etched her name in history in 2023 when she became the first female trainer to win a Triple Crown race with Belmont (G1) winner Arcangelo, the likely favorite in the Classic. The first female to win the Breeders' Cup Classic was Kathy Ritvo in 2013 with Mucho Macho Man. Overall, six female trainers have won Breeders' Cup races.

There has been a short list of women who have won Breeders' Cup races as a jockey. In 2003, Julie Krone was the first woman to achieve Breeders' Cup glory in the 2003 Juvenile Fillies aboard Halfbridled.

Later in 2012, Rosie Napravnik became the second female rider to win at the Breeders' Cup with Shanghai Bobby in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. She won again in 2014 with Untapable in the Distaff.