The Breeders' Cup Challenge, a series of automatic qualifying races for the $25.5 million 2009 Breeders' Cup World Championships, will increase expansion this year with a record 62 races taking place in seven countries at the world’s greatest racing venues, it was announced today. Del Mar Race Track will host eight races during the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Challenge Season beginning on August 2 with the San Diego Handicap, a Dirt Mile qualifier. Additionally, the $1-million Pacific Classic is one of three Challenge races that will serve as a Breeders’ Cup Classic qualifier. Click here for complete 2009 schedule.

The expanded Challenge series, with its “Win and You’re In” provision, will include 12 overseas races from premier racetracks in England, Ireland, France, Australia and Hong Kong. The 2009 Breeders' Cup Challenge races will begin in the U.S. on July 4 with qualifying events from Monmouth Park: the United Nations (gr. I) on turf, and the Salvator Mile (gr. III).
This year’s Breeders' Cup World Championships will be held November 6-7, at the Oak Tree Racing Association meet at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif., and will be televised live on ABC and ESPN.

The Breeders’ Cup Challenge series will again include domestic racetracks Belmont Park in New York, Del Mar near San Diego, Calder Race Course in Miami, Arlington Park in Chicago, Emerald Downs in Seattle, Delaware Park, Monmouth Park and Philadelphia Park in the Middle Atlantic; Turfway Park and Keeneland in Kentucky; Santa Anita Park and Woodbine in Toronto.
The 2009 Challenge races will be televised on ESPN, TVG and HRTV, TSN in Canada and in more than 120 countries.

Del Mar Race Track will host the following Breeders’ Cup Challenge races:

DATE -- RACE -- BC QUALIFYING RACE
August 2, 2009 -- San Diego Handicap (gr. II) Dirt Mile
August 5, 2009 -- Cougar II Handicap Marathon
August 16, 2009 -- John C. Mabee Stakes (gr. I) Filly & Mare Turf
August 29, 2009 -- Del Mar Mile Handicap (gr. II) Mile
August 30, 2009 -- Del Mar Handicap (gr. II) Turf
September 4, 2009 -- Rancho Bernardo Handicap (gr. III) Filly & Mare Sprint
September 6, 2009 -- Pat O’Brien Stakes (gr. I) Sprint
September 6, 2009 -- Pacific Classic (gr. I) Classic

"Del Mar is delighted to be part of the Breeders' Cup Challenge once again," said Del Mar Thoroughbred Club executive vice president Craig Fravel. "The Challenge has shown itself to be something our horsemen and fans appreciate and enjoy and, simply put, it is good for us and good for racing. We're more than happy to share the excitement of the Breeders' Cup World Championships through our races in the series."

Other important features for the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Challenge include:
• 25 races will be enhanced by funds through the Breeders’ Cup Stakes program
• The series will feature 32 group or grade I races, including 10 group 1 races overseas.

"In our continuing efforts to maximize the global popularity and competition of the World Championships, we have expanded this year's Breeders' Cup Challenge series to more racing venues for our horsemen and fans," said Breeders' Cup President and CEO Greg Avioli. “The Breeders’ Cup Challenge creates increased international awareness on a weekly basis from July through October for the world’s great horse races and for the outstanding horses that will be competing in the Championships."

In the U.S., three races will be automatic qualifiers for starting positions in the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic beginning Labor Day weekend in the U.S. with the Washington Park Handicap at Arlington Park (Sept. 5) the Pacific Classic Stakes at Del Mar (Sept. 6), followed by the Goodwood Stakes at Santa Anita Park (Oct. 10). The Breeders’ Cup Classic field is limited to 14 starters.

The international Breeders' Cup Challenge began in April with the Champions Mile (G1) in Hong Kong, won by Sight Winner, who earned a starting berth into the $2 million Breeders' Cup Mile. The first European challenge race of 2009 will be the Audi Pretty Polly Stakes (G1) at The Curragh in Ireland on June 27 for an automatic berth in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf. Among the other new international Challenge races this year are the Tattersalls Million Irish Champion Stakes (G1) at Leopardstown (Sept. 9) and the Emirates Airline Champion Stakes (G1) from Newmarket on Oct. 17, both for starting positions in the $3 million Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Turf; the Moyglare Stud (G1) at The Curragh for a starting position in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf; the Diamond Stakes (G3) at Dundalk for a starting position in the $500,000 Breeders’ Cup Marathon and three automatic qualifiers for the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint:, the Prix ! Maurice de Gheest at Deauville (G1) on Aug. 9, the Cleanevent Manikato Stakes (G1) at Moonee Valley in Australia on Sept. 25 and the Qatar Prix de L’Abbaye at Longchamp (G1) on Oct. 4.

The Breeders’ Cup Challenge, which began in 2007 with 25 races at six U.S. racetracks and Sha Tin in Hong Kong, was increased to 57 races at 12 tracks last year. The 2008 series for the first time included races in Canada from Woodbine and in Great Britain at Ascot Racecourse. This year, the Breeders’ Cup Challenge will be brought to seven additional premier international tracks: Longchamp and Deauville in France, The Curragh, Leopardstown and Dundalk in Ireland, Newmarket in England and Moonee Valley in Australia.

In 2008, 34 of the 57 Challenge race winners completed in the Breeders’ Cup. Five of them won races at the Championships, led by Raven’s Pass. The other winners were Zenyatta, who won the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic on Championship Friday; Forever Together, Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf; Stardom Bound, Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and Maram, Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.

The first European Breeders’ Cup Challenge races debuted at Ascot last year. The Queen Elizabeth II Stakes presented by Sony (G1) a qualifier for the Breeders’ Cup Mile, the Meon Valley Stud Fillies’ Mile (G1) for an automatic spot in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf and the Juddmonte Royal Lodge (G2) for a position in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf are all back in this year’s series, and will be run on Sept. 26.