There are few racing events on the calendar that gain as much as excitement as the Breeders’ Cup. The two-day racing spectacle takes place annually at a different track in North America, with Keeneland boasting hosting responsibilities for the 2022 edition.
This year’s event will once again offer more than $30 million in prize money across the Grade 1 races that will be staged, but how does the Breeders’ Cup Classic rank in terms of importance compared to other major races on the international calendar?
Huge Stars, Huge Rewards
In truth, there isn’t a single horse racing event in the world that gains as much respectability as the Breeders’ Cup when it comes to horse racing on the flat.
There is more prize money on offer during the two-day meet than at any other event on the calendar, while the caliber of racing that takes place also ranks highly with the International Federation of Horse Racing Authorities.
That is highlighted by the fact that three races that are staged during the meet feature in the top 12 of the most prestigious races on the calendar. The most prestigious race that is competed at the Breeders’ Cup is the Classic, which is ranked fourth on the IFHA list.
The Turf and Mile also rank highly, as they sit tenth and 12th, respectively. Furthermore, the Distaff is ranked as the second most prestigious race for fillies and mares in the world.
What makes the Breeders’ Cup so special is the fact that it is one of the few occasions in the year that we get to see European and American horses clash for top prizes. Meetings between runners from the two areas are sparse throughout the year, with only Royal Ascot in recent years being able to claim that the very best are in direct competition.
Kentucky Derby Ranks Higher In Attendance
Despite the Breeders’ Cup featuring 14 Grade 1s across the two days of action, it is still only the third-most attended horse racing event in the United States. However, for many die hard racing fans, it is seen as the purists’ favourite event of the year. Regardless, the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes both regularly attract larger crowds, with the Belmont Stakes also attracting higher attendances in recent years.
That being said, the attendances seen at the Breeders’ Cup is often among the highest in the world.
That was evident in 2016 when Santa Anita attracted more than 118,000 people to attend the Breeders’ Cup across the two days of action.
While the Kentucky Derby and other Triple Crown races attract a mainstream audience to the sport, the Breeders’ Cup is all about crowing the very best of the best, which immediately resonates with racing fans that follow the action religiously throughout the season.
Biggest International Events
The Breeders’ Cup attracts an audience of international visitors, which is rare on the American calendar. However, there are other huge racing events that garner the same crowds. One of the most popular in the United Kingdom is the Cheltenham Festival, which takes place annually in March.
It is the biggest jumps race meeting in the world, and attendances over the four-day meet regularly surpass 300,000. When it comes to the flat in the UK, no meeting is more internationally attended than Royal Ascot, which regularly sees runners from the United States, Japan and Australia compete.
Another of the most popular international events is the Melbourne Cup. This race prides itself on being able to stop the nation, as Australian audiences watch one of the most historic races on the calendar. Other notable international meetings include the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, Dubai World Cup and the Grand National.