Keeneland

Breeders' Cup history: How we got from there to here

Hansen, 5, with Ramon Dominguez  up won the Breeders juvenile  by a nose over Union Rags with Javier Castellano up, left,  during the 2011 Breeders Cup at Churchill Downs on Saturday November 5,2011. Photo by Mark Cornelison | Staff
Hansen, 5, with Ramon Dominguez up won the Breeders juvenile by a nose over Union Rags with Javier Castellano up, left, during the 2011 Breeders Cup at Churchill Downs on Saturday November 5,2011. Photo by Mark Cornelison | Staff

April 23, 1982

Leading owner and breeder John R. Gaines announces during the annual Kentucky Derby Festival awards luncheon the idea for the Breeders' Cup, a year-end championship in Thoroughbred racing that would also attract international competitors. "I have personally spoken to virtually all the prominent breeders in this country and several in Europe, and to a man they have endorsed the program as a means of our industry helping itself," Gaines said at the time.

July 27, 1982

The Breeders' Cup stakes race program is outlined as a one-day, seven-race series with purses totaling $13 million.

Feb. 24, 1983

Hollywood Park in Inglewood, Calif., is selected as the site for the inaugural Breeders' Cup to be held Nov. 10, 1984.

Sept. 13, 1983

NBC Sports and Breeders' Cup Limited announce an exclusive, multiyear contract to broadcast all seven Breeders' Cup races live to a worldwide audience in a four-hour television special

Jan. 17, 1984

The graded stakes panel of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association announces the decision to assign Grade I status to all seven Breeders' Cup races.

May 8, 1984

Breeders' Cup Limited announced the official names for the seven Breeders' Cup races — the $3 million Classic, $2 million Turf, $1 million Distaff, $1 million Juvenile, $1 million Juvenile Fillies, $1 million Mile, and $1 million Sprint.

Oct. 22, 1984

Breeders' Cup unveils its permanent trophy, a 1,850-pound bronze and marble reproduction of the Torrie horse, a flayed horse designed by the 16th century sculptor Giambologna.

Oct. 30, 1984

Seventy-seven horses are pre-entered for the seven Breeders' Cup races.

Nov. 10, 1984

The inaugural Breeders' Cup is contested before 64,254 at Hollywood Park. Chief's Crown wins the first Breeders' Cup race, the Juvenile and long shot Wild Again takes the Classic in a thrilling stretch duel with Slew o' Gold and Gate Dancer.

Feb. 8, 1985

Gaines receives the Eclipse Award of Merit during the Eclipse Awards ceremony. Seven of the 10 horses honored with Eclipse Awards for 1984 participated in Breeders' Cup races.

Nov. 2, 1985

The second Breeders' Cup is run before 42,568 at Aqueduct. Total wagering of over $28 million establishes a single-day North American record.

Nov. 1, 1986

A crowd of 69,155 attend the third running of the Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita Park.

July 16, 1987

Churchill Downs is named host track for the 1988 Breeders' Cup.

Nov. 21, 1987

A crowd of 57,734 watches as 1986 Kentucky Derby winner Ferdinand holds off 1987 Derby victor Alysheba by a nose to win the fourth Breeders' Cup Classic at Hollywood Park.

Feb. 11, 1988

The distance of the Distaff is shortened from 1¼ miles to 11⁄8 miles.

Nov. 5, 1988

With darkness setting in and Horse of the Year honors on the line, Alysheba defeats Seeking the Gold by half a length in the Breeders' Cup Classic at Churchill Downs. The victory increases Alysheba's career earnings to $6,679,242, pushing him past John Henry as the richest racehorse in North American history.

Sept. 20, 1989

Churchill Downs is chosen as the site of the 1991 Breeders' Cup.

March 7, 1996

It is announced that the purse for the Breeders' Cup Classic will be increased by $1 million, making the race worth $4 million.

Oct. 26, 1996

For the first time ever, the Breeders' Cup travels outside the United States to be run before 42,243 fans at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto.Sept. 5, 1997

Churchill Downs is selected to host the 1998 Breeders' Cup for a then-record fourth time.

Feb. 25, 1998

The total purse for the Distaff increases to $2 million. Total purses and awards for the Championship are now at $12 million.

July 16, 1998

A motion to add the $1 million Filly & Mare Turf to the Breeders' Cup race program is approved. The new race would be incorporated at Gulfstream Park in 1999 at the distance of 1 3⁄8 miles.

Feb. 2, 2005

Breeders' Cup founder John R. Gaines dies in Lexington at the age of 76.

May 2, 2006

Total purses for the Breeders' Cup are increased to $20 million, up $6 million from 2005. Each race will have a purse value of $2 million with the exception of the Turf at $3 million and the Classic, which is raised to $5 million.

Oct. 30, 2006

It is announced that Breeders' Cup Limited and six of the nation's tracks will launch a set of officially sanctioned Breeders' Cup qualifying races in 2007. The new "Breeders' Cup Challenge" will be highlighted by its "Win and You're In" provision with the winner of each of the Challenge races automatically qualifying for the corresponding divisional race in the Breeders' Cup.

Jan. 8, 2007

Plans to expand the Breeders' Cup to a two-day event are announced, effective for the 2007 event at Monmouth Park. The new races are the Dirt Mile, the Filly & Mare Sprint and the Juvenile Turf.

Dec. 10, 2007

Plans for three more new Breeders' Cup races to be established in 2008 are announced, increasing the event to 14 races and raising total purses to $25.5 million. The new races are the $1 million Turf Sprint, the $1 million Juvenile Fillies Turf and $500,000 Dirt Marathon.

Feb. 7, 2008

For the first time in its history, the Breeders' Cup will be held at the same site in consecutive years as Santa Anita Park, host for the event's 25th anniversary season in 2008, is selected as the host site for 2009.

Feb. 27, 2008

The 2008 Breeders' Cup plans to card all five of its races for female horses together on the first day of the two-day event. The Breeders' Cup Distaff is renamed the Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic and will be the headline race on the card.

June 11, 2010

Breeders' Cup announces that Churchill Downs will host the event for a record eighth time in 2011. It also will mark the first time the Louisville track, host site for 2010, will hold the Breeders' Cup in consecutive years.

June 14, 2011

The Juvenile Sprint is announced as the 15th Breeders' Cup race. The new race will be run on the main track at a distance of 6 furlongs.

March 1, 2013

Breeders' Cup Board votes to retain its no race-day medication policy for the four Juvenile races in 2013, similar to 2012, and deferred a decision on extending the policy to all its Championship races, a move which would have eliminated the use of the anti-bleeder medication Salix, also known as Lasix. Also votes to discontinue the Juvenile Sprint, contested in 2011 and 2012. The 2013 Breeders' Cup consists of 14 races.

June 7, 2013

Santa Anita Park is announced as the host of the 30th Breeders' Cup in 2014, making the Southern California track the first venue to host the event three consecutive years.

Aug. 8, 2013

Breeders' Cup announces that the Ladies' Classic will be returned to its original name of the Distaff.

April 25, 2014

Breeders' Cup eliminates the 1¾ miles Marathon race from the World Championships program after six runnings. The 2014 event consists of 13 races and $26 million in purses and awards.

June 24, 2014

Breeders' Cup announces Keeneland (2015), Santa Anita (2016) and Del Mar (2017) as host sites for future events. Keeneland and Del Mar will be first time hosts.

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