Breeders’ Cup World Thoroughbred Championships

A History of International Thoroughbred

Horse racing Since 1984

Breeder's CupThe Breeders’ Cup World Thoroughbred Championships held the first series of its seven races before a crowd of 64,254 horse racing, horse betting, horse wagering, and handicapping fans at Hollywood Park in 1984. Today, purses for the eight races of the Breeders’ Cup amount to $14 million. The most important race in the series, the Breeders' Cup Classic, has a total purse of $5 million, with a winner's share of more than $2.5 million.

The Breeders’ Cup traces its roots back to 1982, with a group of Horse racing leaders frontlined by John R. Gaines, founding father of the Breeders’ Cup and former owner of Gainesway Farm near Lexington, Kentucky. The group had envisioned a vehicle to promote the sport, which would not only be a showcase of the sport’s finest elements but also a grand finale to the racing season, with a multimillion dollar total purse. Every one of those visions came true.

The Breeders’ Cup inaugural event was held on November 10, 1984 at glitzy Hollywood Park in Inglewood, California. It was an instant hit. The championship races have since become the cornerstone of a year-round program that has allocated over $380 million to owners and breeders alike. Most divisional champions crowned since 1984 have participated in a Breeders' Cup racing event.

In 1986, a separate $250,000 Breeders' Cup Steeplechase, run two weeks earlier than the series at a different track, was added to the program. That race was discontinued after 1993. A turf race for fillies and mares was added in 1999.

After Hollywood Park, the Breeders’ Cup would change venues yearly. Each fall, a different North American track plays host to the prestigious thoroughbred racing event, which have included the richly historical Churchill Downs, the stately Belmont Park, and the panoramic Santa Anita in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. The Breeders’ Cup comes to Texas for the first time when it holds the 2004 season ender at Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie near Dallas.

Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, holds the records for both Breeders' Cup attendance and total wagering. The renowned racecourse attracted 80,452 spectators in 1998, and when the races came back to Louisville in 2000, over $108 million was wagered.

D.G. Van Clief, Jr., current president of The Breeders’ Cup Limited, had been responsible for the racing event's early development and funding, overseeing the 1984 inaugural running. He recently served as the interim Chief Executive Officer of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) until April 1998, and currently serves on the boards of The Blood-Horse Magazine, Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, and The Jockey Club Foundation, among others.

Since 1984, the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships has continued to grow in popularity owing to its prestige and keen level of competition. Contending horses have not only come from the US but all the way from England, Ireland, France, Japan, and Germany. The races are televised on both NBC and ESPN (pre-championships), and simulcast in 25 countries, with horserace wagering at more than $108 million.

But beyond the foreign players and media sponsors, thoroughbred owners and breeders have served as the Breeders’ Cup’s backbone since the very beginning. They not only supply the race horses competing in the Breeders' Cup events but also pay the nominations from which the organization, Breeder’s Cup Limited, derives its major source of funding.

As an international program, the Breeders’ Cup has instituted a nomination process to breeders around the world. Stallion owners annually pay a nomination fee that is the equivalent of a stallion's advertised stud fee, or a minimum of $1,000. Breeders pay a nomination fee of $500 for each foal. Nominated horses are eligible to compete for millions in both the Breeders’ Cup Stakes program and the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships events. Annual nominations from all over the world have made the Breeders’ Cup a truly global institution.

The Breeders’ Cup has no doubt accomplished what its founders set out to do, and more. Today, after 26 years and running, the Breeders’ Cup remains the definitive test of Horse racing champions, and has become thoroughbred racing’s most recognizable and successful showpiece worldwide.

Breeders' Cup Races


Online Horse Betting

Breeders' Cup, Breeders' Cup World Championship and Breeders' Cup logo are registered trademarks or subsidiaries of Breeders' Cup Limited and/or its affiliates (collectively Breeders' Cup). Breeders' Cup does not sponsor or endorse, and is not associated or affiliated with this website or its products, services or promotions. This website provides free information, odds, facts and commentary about the Breeders' Cup and horse racing and betting, in general. Third party marks may be referenced in a transformative, editorial, informational, nominative, critical, analytical or comparative context. As such, this website may reference marks belonging to third parties pursuant to our right to engage in fair use, fair comment, statutory fair use or trade mark fair use doctrine. As such, this this website does not contribute to any dilution of any trade or service marks. This website provides this information in an effort to educate and grow the sport of thoroughbred racing in North America with an emphasis on attracting new fans of the sport. Horse Betting | Online Horse Racing | Kentucky Derby Betting | Breeders' Cup Betting | Kentucky Derby Odds | Breeders' Cup Odds | Kentucky Derby Contenders | Breeders' Cup Contenders | Online Horse Betting | Bet Kentucky Derby | Bet on the Breeders' Cup | OTB Results |