The Breeders’ Cup is the pinnacle of the season for many flat horses, as the world’s best travel to Del Mar to compete in their respective races. However, the race itself is hard enough to reach, as all horses involved in the lucrative races will first need to qualify for the Breeders’ Cup.
Not all races at tracks such as Arlington Park and Monmouth Park are ‘Win, and You’re In’, but below, we will go through some of the most exciting in the second half of the season, and examine which horses could be heading to Del Mar later in the season.
Juddmonte International Stakes
There is just one Breeders’ Cup Classic route for British and Irish trained horses throughout the season, and this is staged at York in August as the Juddmonte International Stakes takes place. The International Stakes has been a race on the British calendar since 1972, and is an integral part of the Ebor Festival at York every season.
Horses compete over the one mile and two furlong distance in the richest race of the season at York. The betting for the race is already open, with St Mark’s Basilica for Aidan O’Brien at the top of the betting. St Mark’s Basilica is three from three this season, and was a very impressive winner at Sandown at the beginning of July when he won the G1 Coral-Eclipse. Love and Palace Pier have already qualified for the Breeders’ Cup, but could also enter into the International Stakes next month.
Del Mar Handicap
Del Mar plays host to the Breeders’ Cup later in the year, but there will still be a number of ‘Win and You’re In’ races taking place at the track before then. One of the qualifying races will take place towards the end of August at the Del Mar Handicap takes place. The winning runner in this race will automatically be entered into the Breeders’ Cup Turf.
This race is a Grade 2, which has been a date on the American calendar since 1937. There have been a number of famous horses to have achieved multiple victories in the Del Mar Handicap, including Big John B, Spring House, and Arrogate.
Red King will be looking to add his name to that roll of honour this year, as the Phillip D’Amato-trained horse won the Del Mar Handicap in 2020. Since then, he hasn’t won in four starts, but has finished third on two occasions in the G2 Charles Whittingham and G3 San Juan Capistrano Stakes.
The Pacific Classic is also a Grade 1, and takes place on the same day at Del Mar. However, this race is a ‘Win and You’re In’ for the Breeders’ Cup Classic, which is the most prestigious race to be run at Del Mar later in the year. The Pacific Classic was introduced in 1991, and currently carries a purse of $750,000. Accelerate and Maximum Security are among the most recent winners of this race.
It looks set to be an excellent renewal of this race in 2021, with Hot Rod Charlie likely to line-up and take on older horses in the form of Royal Ship and Idol. Express Train could be the horse to beat in the field, as the four-year-old has already won two graded races this season.
His first victory came in the G2 San Pasqual Stakes in January, before he added another Grade 2 success to his collection in July by winning the San Diego Handicap. A case could be made for all the horses that are set to line-up in the Pacific Classic.