What to know about the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series

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The Breeders’ Cup World Championships brings top Thoroughbreds from around the world together for two days of racing with tens of millions of dollars on the line. The 2019 Breeders’ Cup will take place on Friday, Nov. 1 and Saturday, Nov. 2, only on NBC, NBCSN, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app. The Breeders’ Cup changes locations every year, and the 2019 edition will remain at Santa Anita Park in California, despite 30 horse deaths during its last racing season.

Over the weekend, pre-qualified horses will run 14 races (on both the dirt and turf), culminating in the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 2. The Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series offers a direct path to one of the most exciting weekends in horse racing. Claiming victory in any of the BCCS’ “Win and You’re In” races equals an automatic entry into that division’s corresponding race, all entry fees paid. With a maximum of 14 horses in each race, the rest are chosen via a points system and a panel of judges.

“Win and You’re In” races are held around the world, including in the U.S., England, Brazil and Japan, contributing to the global reach of the Breeders’ Cup.

NBC Sports broadcast schedule:

  • Jaipur Invitational Stakes (Turf Sprint)
    • June 8, 2:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN), Belmont Park
    • Winner: World of Trouble | Replay
  • Runhappy Met Mile (Dirt Mile)
    • June 8, 4 p.m. ET (NBC), Belmont Park
    • Winner: Mitole | Replay
  • Stephen Foster (Classic)
    • June 15, 8:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN), Churchill Downs
    • Winner: Seeking the Soul | Replay
  • Fleur de Lis (Longines Distaff)
    • June 15, 8:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN), Churchill Downs
    • Winner: Elate | Replay
  • Queen Anne Stakes (TVG Mile)
    • June 18, 8:30 a.m. ET (NBCSN), Royal Ascot
    • Winner: Lord Glitters | Replay
  • Prince of Wales’s Stakes (Longines Turf) ⁠
    • June 19, 8:30 a.m. ET (NBCSN), Royal Ascot
    • Winner: Crystal Ocean | Replay
  • Norfolk Stakes (Juvenile Turf Sprint) ⁠
    • June 20, 8:30 a.m. ET (NBCSN), Royal Ascot
    • Winner: A’Ali | Replay
  • Diamond Jubilee Stakes (Turf Sprint) ⁠
    • June 22, 9 a.m. ET (NBC), Royal Ascot
    • Winner: Blue Point | Replay
  • John A. Nerud (Sprint)
    • July 6, 4 p.m. ET (NBCSN), Belmont Park
    • Winner: Promises Fulfilled | Replay
  • Haskell Invitational (Classic) ⁠
    • July 20, 5 p.m. ET (NBC), Monmouth Park
    • Winner: Maximum Security | Replay
  • Qatar Sussex Stakes (TVG Mile)
    • July 31, 9 a.m. ET (NBCSN), Goodwood Racecourse
    • Winner: Too Darn Hot | Replay
  • Whitney Stakes (Classic) ⁠
    • Aug. 3, 5 p.m. ET (NBCSN), Saratoga Race Course
    • Winner: McKinzie | Replay
  • Fourstardave Handicap (TVG Mile) ⁠
    • Aug. 10, 5 p.m. ET (NBC), Saratoga Race Course
    • Winner: Got Stormy | Replay
  • Juddmonte International Stakes (Classic)
    • Aug. 21, 9 a.m. ET (NBCSN), York Racecourse
    • Winner: Japan | Replay
  • Jockey Club Derby (Longines Turf) ⁠
    • Sept. 7, 4:30 p.m. ET (NBC), Belmont Park
    • Winner: Spanish Mission | Replay
  • Runhappy Turf Sprint (Turf Sprint)
    • Sept. 7, 4:30 p.m. ET (NBC), Kentucky Downs
    • Winner: Totally Boss | Replay
  • Cotillion Stakes (Longines Distaff) ⁠
    • Sept. 21, 5 p.m. ET (NBC), Parx Racing
    • Winner: Street Band | Replay
  • Rodeo Drive Stakes (Filly & Mare Turf)
    • Sept. 28, 6:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN), Santa Anita Park
    • Winner: Mirth | Replay
  • Awesome Again Stakes (Classic) ⁠
    • Sept. 28, 6:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN), Santa Anita Park
    • Winner: Mongolian Groom | Replay
  • Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (TVG Juvenile) ⁠
    • Oct. 5, 5:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN), Keeneland Race Course
    • Winner: Maxfield | Replay
  • Shadwell Turf Mile Stakes (TVG Mile) ⁠
    • Oct. 5, 5:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN), Keeneland Race Course
    • Winner: Bowies Hero | Replay
  • Juddmonte Spinster Stakes (Longines Distaff) ⁠
    • Oct. 6, 4:30 p.m. ET (NBC), Keeneland Race Course
    • Winner: Blue Prize | Replay
  • Dixiana Bourbon Stakes (Juvenile Turf) ⁠
    • Oct. 6, 4:30 p.m. ET (NBC), Keeneland Race Course
    • Winner: Peace Achieved | Replay

Taiba wins $1 million Pennsylvania Derby for Baffert

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BENSALEM, Pa. – Taiba won the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby by three lengths for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert.

Ridden by Mike Smith, Taiba ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.67 and paid $4.80, $3 and $2.60.

It was Baffert’s fourth win in the Grade 1 event at Parx Racing. He also won in 2014, 2017 and 2018. Smith won the race for the third time, all aboard Baffert horses.

Zandon returned $3.80 and $2.60. Cyberknife was another 3 3/4 lengths back in third and paid $3 to show.

Taiba was coming off a second-place finish in the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth in July. The colt was 12th in the Kentucky Derby under Tim Yakteen, who took over training him while Baffert was serving a 90-day suspension.

“He had a little bit of a rough trip in the Haskell, but we had some time to get him ready for this one,” Baffert said from his base in California. “He proved today he is a good horse. He is getting better and better.”

Baffert Taiba will be pointed toward the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic in November. The colt has three wins in five starts this year.

Kentucky Derby modifies qualifying, elevates prep races

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Churchill Downs has modified paths to the Kentucky Derby and Oaks, awarding points to the top five finishers in qualifying races and increasing significance for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and late prep season events.

Most Derby prep races during the qualifying series for 3-year-olds will award points on a 10-4-3-2-1 sliding scale after using a 10-4-2-1 system since 2013. The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, run during the season-ending championships on Nov. 4 at Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky, will increase points from 20-8-4-2 to 30-12-9-6-3 to differentiate the Grade I event from others during prep season.

Select prep races for the 20-horse Derby field have elevated points from a 10-4-2-1 scale to 20-8-6-4-2 to increase their importance and motivate hopefuls to begin their 3-year-old campaigns earlier in the season, track officials stated in a release.

“We believe these modifications adhere to and amplify our goal of assembling the finest group of 3-year-olds in the starting gate for a race at the classic distance of 1\ miles on the first Saturday in May,” Churchill Downs vice president/general manager Mike Ziegler said.

The 149th Kentucky Derby and Oaks for fillies will be held on May 5-6, 2023. Derby qualifying season begins with Saturday’s $300,000, Grade III Iroquois for 2-year-olds at Churchill Downs.

The point changes apply to Oaks qualifiers.

Elevated Derby preps include the Lecomte at Fair Grounds in Louisiana; Southwest at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas; Withers at Aqueduct in New York; Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park in Florida; Robert B. Lewis at Santa Anita in California; Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs; and John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway Park in Kentucky.