Officials with Breeders' Cup announced Friday they would reinstate the entry fee benefits to the connections of Silver Max and Poker Player, winners of Challenge races that lost that designation when the races were taken off the turf at Keeneland last weekend.
Both the Grade I Shadwell Turf Mile and Grade III Bourbon Stakes were scheduled as "Win and You're In" Breeders' Cup races, meaning its respective winners would be awarded an automatic berth and free entry into the Breeders' Cup races they were designed as preps for.
The Shadwell Turf Mile, originally scheduled as a qualifier for the Breeders' Cup Mile, was switched to the main track last Saturday because of heavy rains and was won by 4-year-old Silver Max. On Sunday, the Bourbon Stakes for 2-year-olds, scheduled as a qualifier for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf, was also switched to the main track and won by Poker Player.
Under Breeders' Cup Challenge rules, an automatic berth cannot be awarded to the winner of a race that is taken off the turf. However, since no horses were scratched from either race, and the American Graded Stakes Committee subsequently reinstated the original grades for the races, Breeders' Cup officials elected to reinstate entry fee awards of $40,000 to the connections of Silver Max and $20,000 to the connections of Poker Player.
"The bottom line was the races stayed intact and we want to do the right thing," said Bob Elliston, chief operating officer of Breeders' Cup. "What we are doing is giving them the financial benefit and they will have to qualify for the field based on the body of work they've done this year."
Each horse will be required to qualify on the basis of Breeders' Cup qualifying points or through the Racing Directors/Secretaries Panel selection as the automatic Challenge starting position was not reinstated.
In addition to entry fees, the foal nominators of both horses will each receive a $10,000 nominator award as a part of the Breeders' Cup Challenge series.