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Edited Breeders’ Cup Staff Release — The countdown to the Breeders’ Cup World Championships continues this weekend as Keeneland Race Course hosts CNBC and Peacock’s presentation of the final automatic qualifying races in the United States.

A pair of two-hour programs from the Lexington, Kentucky oval are the final shows for this year’s “Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series: Win and You’re In” on NBC, CNBC, and Peacock from North America’s most iconic racetracks. The series leads to the Breeders’ Cup World Championships Nov. 3-4 at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California. The complete series viewing schedule can be accessed here.

The weekend coverage begins Saturday, Oct. 7, at 4:00 p.m. ET and features the $1 million Coolmore Turf Mile Stakes (G1) led by Master of the Seas (IRE) and Up to the Mark. The programming on Sunday, Oct. 8, also beginning at 4:00 p.m. ET, will be highlighted by champion filly Nest and fellow Grade 1 winner Idiomatic in the $600,000 Juddmonte Spinster Stakes (G1).

Saturday’s show will also include three additional Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series races: the $600,000 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (G1) for 2-year-olds going 1 1/16 miles; the $350,000 Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes (G2) for 3-year-old and up fillies and mares at 6 furlongs, and from Santa Anita Park, the $200,000 Chandelier Stakes (G2) for 2-year-old fillies going 1 1/16 miles.

NBC Sports’ coverage will feature commentary and discussion from reporter Britney Eurton, analysts Randy Moss and Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey, and handicappers Nick Luck and Michelle Yu.

The Coolmore Turf Mile, whose winner will receive an automatic starting position into the $2 million FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1), boasts five Grade 1 winners: Master of the Seas, Up to the Mark, defending champion Annapolis, Set Piece (GB),and Atone.

Godolphin’s Master of the Seas is the 2-1 morning line favorite in the nine-horse field following his dominating win in the Sept. 16 Ricoh Woodbine Mile (G1) in which he earned a free berth into the FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile. Trained by Charlie Appleby, Master of the Seas has won three of five starts this year.

Up to the Mark and Annapolis are trained by Todd Pletcher. Up to the Mark, owned by Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable, has excelled at longer distances this year, winning back-to-back Grade 1 races in the May 6 Old Forrester Bourbon Turf Classic Stakes going 1 1/8 miles at Churchill Downs and the June 10 Resorts World Casino Manhattan Stakes over 1 ¼ miles at Belmont Park. Up to the Mark has won four of five starts this year, with his only defeat being a third-place finish in the April 14 Maker’s Mark Mile Stakes (G1) at Keeneland. Bass Racing LLC’s homebred Annapolis drove clear in the final furlong to win last year’s Coolmore Turf Mile by 1 1/2 lengths. On May 4 at Churchill Downs, he won his sixth career race, taking the listed 1-mile Opening Verse Stakes.

Juddmonte’s 7-year-old homebred gelding Set Piece, trained by Brad Cox, stormed home from last in the 11-horse field of the Aug. 10 Arlington Million (G1) at Colonial Downs, earning his 13th career win. Three Diamonds Farm’s 6-year-old gelding Atone, trained by Mike Maker, won the Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational Stakes (G1) at Gulfstream Park in January, but has been off the board in his last four starts.

Pletcher has entered the 7-5 morning line favorite Locked in the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity, which gives the winner a free berth into the $2 million FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1). Owned by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Walmac Farm, Locked captured a 1-mile maiden special weight race at Saratoga by a widening 7 1/4 lengths on Sept. 1. Cox has two starters in this race with Albaugh Family Stables LLC and Donegal Racing’s Awesome Road, who won on debut in a 6-furlong race at Ellis Park on Aug. 27, and Siena Farm and WinStar Farm LLC’s Timberlake, who was second in the Sept. 4 Hopeful Stakes (G1) at Saratoga. 

The winner of the Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes gains an automatic starting position into the $1 million PNC Bank Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1). The Steve Asmussen-trained Wicked Halo, who was third in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint at Keeneland, faces 2-1 morning line favorite Yuugiri, who defeated Wicked Halo in the Sept. 16 listed Open Mind Stakes at Churchill Downs.

At Santa Anita, the Peter Eurton-trained Laurent, second in the Grade 1, Sept. 9 FanDuel Racing Del Mar Debutante Stakes, is among the 10 contenders entered in the Chandelier Stakes, with the winner receiving a free entry into the $2 million NetJets Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1).

Sunday’s 1 1/8-mile Juddmonte Spinster Stakes for fillies and mares, 3-years-old and up, could set up as a battle between two daughters of Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Curlin, as Nest tries to turn the tables on Idiomatic, who defeated her in the Aug. 25 Personal Ensign (G1) at Saratoga. The Spinster winner earns an automatic starting position in the $2 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1). Nest, owned by Repole Stable, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, and Michael House, and trained by Pletcher, finished fourth in last year’s Distaff at Keeneland. However, she still completed an outstanding season of five stakes victories and a second in the Belmont Stakes (G1) that propelled her to the 3-year-old filly championship. She won the July 23 Shuvee Stakes (G2) at Saratoga in her seasonal debut, but finished third over sloppy track in the Personal Ensign.

Juddmonte’s 4-year-old homebred Idiomatic, trained by Cox, won the Personal Ensign gate to-wire by 4 lengths, registering her sixth win in seven starts this year that also included a triumph in the July 8 Delaware Handicap (G2).

Sunday’s program will also include the $350,000 Castle & Key Bourbon Stakes (G2) for 2-year-olds going 1 1/16 miles on the turf, which gives the winner a free berth into the $1 million Prevagen Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1). Repole Stable’s Noted, the 3-1 morning line favorite,leads a wide-open field of 12 starters. Trained by Pletcher, Noted won the Aug. 26 listed Sampling Stakes at Monmouth Park in his most recent start. Godolphin’s Palm Tree, the 9-2 second choice, trained by Brendan Walsh, came on strongly in the stretch to win a 6 1/2-furlong maiden race Sept. 7 at Kentucky Downs.

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