What to know about the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series


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

Newgate wins Robert B. Lewis Stakes; Baffert runs 1-2-3-4


ARCADIA, Calif. — Newgate won the $200,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes by a neck, with Bob Baffert as the trainer of all four horses in the Kentucky Derby prep race at Santa Anita.

Ridden by Frankie Dettori, Newgate ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.11 and paid $4 and $2.60 as the even-money favorite. There was no show wagering because of the field size.

Hard to Figure returned $5.20 at 12-1 odds. Worcester was another 1 3/4 lengths back in third. Arabian Lion was fourth.

“So much improvement in all these horses,” Baffert said. “I was actually nervous before the race, worried that something weird might happen, but I can relax now.”

The Lewis was a Kentucky Derby prep race, but no points were awarded because Baffert has been banned for two years by Churchill Downs Inc. The Hall of Fame trainer was in Louisville to testify in federal court as he seeks a temporary injunction to end the suspension, which runs through the end of the upcoming spring meet. It was meted out following a failed drug test by Medina Spirit after the colt finished first in the 2021 Kentucky Derby.

Newgate earned his first graded stakes victory. The colt was second, beaten by a neck in the Sham Stakes last month in his previous start.

“Frankie Dettori has been teaching him how to just sit back, relax and come with a punch and that’s what he did today,” Baffert said.

The victory, worth $120,000, increased Newgate’s career earnings to $241,975, with two wins in six starts.

Baffert: 2-year Churchill Downs suspension hurt reputation

bob baffert

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Churchill Downs never gave advance notice nor reached out to explain its two-year suspension, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert said in federal court, and reiterated that the penalty has caused irreparable harm to his business and reputation.

Baffert has sued the historic track and is seeking a temporary injunction to stop his suspension following a failed drug test by the now-deceased Medina Spirit after the colt came in first in the 2021 Kentucky Derby.

The suspension for a series of failed tests by his horses runs through the end of the upcoming spring meet and could exclude Baffert from the Derby for a second consecutive spring.

Almost a year ago, Kentucky racing officials disqualified Medina Spirit and suspended Baffert for 90 days for those failed tests. Churchill Downs elevated Derby runner-up Mandaloun to winner.

“They’ve hurt my reputation,” Baffert said during nearly two hours of testimony in U.S. District Court. “My horses should’ve made much more money. I didn’t run for 90 days, and I had to let people go.”

Churchill Downs wants the case dismissed, citing nine failed tests by Baffert-trained horses as justification for disciplining horse racing’s most visible figure. The list of violators includes 2020 Kentucky Oaks third-place finisher Gamine, who was ultimately disqualified.

Medina Spirit failed his test for having in his system the corticosteroid betamethasone, which Baffert and attorney Clark Brewster have argued came from an ointment rather than an injection.

Track president Mike Anderson said the decision by Churchill Downs CEO Bill Carstanjen stemmed from Baffert’s “refusal to take responsibility for repeat violations” during a news conference at his backside barn after Medina Spirit’s failed test was revealed.

“We wanted to make a statement that this was a consequence of not doing the right thing,” Anderson said.

Attorneys Matt Benjamin and Christine Demana, who are representing Churchill Downs, also disputed Baffert’s contention that business has suffered by noting his latest crop of promising 3-year-old colts on this year’s Derby trail.

One of them, Arabian Knight, won last week’s Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn by 5+ lengths to give Baffert his record sixth win in the race. The horse is ineligible to earn Kentucky Derby qualifying points as the winner because of Baffert’s suspension.

A slide presented also showed that Baffert horses made 477 starts from May 10, 2021, through December 2022 and won marquee races such as the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (Corniche, the Eclipse winner) along with Grade 1 wins in the Pennsylvania Derby and Malibu Stakes (Taiba).

Friday’s 3 1/2-hour hearing followed four hours of testimony on Thursday. District Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings gave no indication when she would rule. But Brewster said he expects a decision “within several days.”

Baffert testified that he had had a good relationship with Churchill Downs, though he noted that he was paying for his seats at the track and having to “grovel” to get them. He also insisted that he tried to be a good ambassador for horse racing, especially after American Pharoah and Justify won the Triple Crown in 2015 and 2018, respectively.

“I think today was great because I finally got to tell my story in a nonbiased atmosphere,” he said. “I hope for the best, and hopefully we’ll be here.”