With the end of summer, the focus of Thoroughbred horse racing turns to the Breeders' Cup, billed as the World Championship of Horse Racing. This year the venue for the Breeders' Cup is Churchill Downs, Louisville KY, with racing on Friday, November 5 and Saturday, November 6.
The Breeders' Cup is returning east after a two year stint at California's Santa Anita Park. Horses from across the globe will convene to determine the preeminent athlete in each of the fourteen divisions. A total of $25.5 million will be disbursed as winnings, earning the Breeders' Cup (BC) the distinction of being the world's richest prize money event. A purse of $5 million goes to the the BC Classic (G1) run over 1 ¼ miles on the dirt.
It appears that the great undefeated mare Zenyatta, will travel east from her southern California base to have the opportunity to once again vanquish those who challenge her. Having won the 2009 BC Classic (G1) and the 2008 BC Distaff (G1), both on Santa Anita's synthetic surface, a third BC win would further enshrine Zenyatta in the pantheon of racing legend.
First, however, she must defeat her peers. Quality Road had a meltdown being loaded in the starting gate at the 2009 Classic and was withdrawn from the race. He has since become a model of pre-race deportment and will face Zenyatta for the first time in the 2010 Classic.
This has been a good year for Quality Road. In February he broke his own record, set in 2009, winning the Donn Handicap (G1) at Gulfstream Park, FL. On Memorial Day, he was the convincing winner of the Metropolitan Handicap (G1) at Belmont Park, NY.
There was a slight hiccup in early August at the Saratoga Race Course, NY when Blame nosed Quality Road into the two spot in the final strides of the Whitney Handicap (G1). Redemption was found when Quality Road bested all in the late summer Woodward Stakes (G1) at Saratoga.
By winning the Whitney, Blame won a berth in the BC Classic as part of the BC Challenge's "Win and You're In" series. With earnings of close to $1 million for 2010, you can be assured when Blame shows up he will be a contender. Tentative plans have Blame running in the October 2 Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1), at Belmont, as a prep for Louisville.
Plans for 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra are unclear. She would fit well in three BC races - the Classic, the Mile (dirt) and the Ladies Classic.