Three Breeders' Cup Challenge G1 races for automatic starting positions in the Breeders' Cup World Championships will be contested this weekend beginning in Ireland on Saturday with the Stobart Pretty Polly Stakes (G1) at The Curragh, and followed on Sunday in Japan by the Takarazuka Kinen (G1) and in France with the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud (G1).
The Breeders' Cup Challenge is a global series of 68 stakes races whose winners earn automatic starting positions into a corresponding race into the Breeders' Cup, which will be held November 4-5 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.
This year, Breeders' Cup Ltd., has created new incentives for Breeders' Cup Challenge winners. If an international Breeders' Cup Challenge winner is nominated to the Breeders' Cup program:
· The winning stable will receive a US$20,000 travel allowance to Louisville for the Championships.
· The nominator of the Challenge winner will receive a US$10,000 nominator award from Breeders' Cup Ltd.
Non-nominated Breeders' Cup Challenge winners have until October 24 to nominate and still receive paid entry fees and the designated travel allowance.
On Saturday at the Curragh, Midday (GB), Snow Fairy (IRE) and Misty For Me (IRE) headline the Stobart Ireland Pretty Polly Stakes (G1) at 1 π miles for fillies and mares, 3-years-old and-up, on turf for a “Win and You're In” berth into the US$2 million Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. I). The 5-year-old Midday, trained by Henry Cecil, won the 2009 Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf and was second to Shared Account in last year's Filly & Mare Turf at Churchill Downs. Midday began 2011 with a victory in the Middleton Stakes (G2) at York and then suffered a one-length defeat to St. Nicholas Abbey in the Coronation Stakes (G1) at Epsom on June 3. The 4-year-old Snow Fairy (IRE), trained by Ed Dunlop, will be making her first start of the year. Snow Fairy closed out 2010 in impressive fashion in the Far East, winning the Queen Elizabeth II Commemorative Cup (G1) at Kyoto in Japan and then defeated male rivals in the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Gold Cup (G1) at Sha Tin last December. The 3-year-old Misty For Me won this year's Irish 1000 Guineas for trainer Aidan O'Brien.
Sunday's Takarazuka Kinen, for 3-year-olds and up at 1 3/8 miles, the first-ever Breeders' Cup Challenge race to be held in Japan, drew 16 starters. The race, which guarantees the winner a “Win and You're In” berth into the US$3 million Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. I), is led by the 5-year-old mare Buena Vista (JPN), the 2010 Japanese Horse of the Year and a winner of five career Group 1 stakes races. Disqualified from first in last year's Japan Cup, Buena Vista was 8th in the Dubai World Cup in March. She recently finished second in the Victoria Mile (G1) at Tokyo Race Course on May 15. Other contenders include the 4-year-old Rulership (JPN), winner of the Kinko Sho Stakes on May 28 at Kyoto, and last year's Japanese Derby winner, the 4-year-old Eishin Flash (JPN).
H.H. Aga Khan's Sarafina (FR) leads the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud on Sunday for an automatic qualifying position into the Breeders' Cup Turf. The 4-year-old filly won last time out in the Prix Corrida (G2) on May 23 at Saint-Cloud for trainer Alain de Royer-Dupre, among her four career victories, which includes last year's Prix de Diane (G1). Among the challengers is expected to be the 4-year-old Silver Pond (FR), winner of the Grand Prix de Chantilly.
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