Breeders’ Cup® Challenge Series: Noble Bird Wins Stephen Foster

By Victoria Barnett June 18, 2015

Last Saturday, the Breeders’ Cup Challenge series continued at Churchill Downs with the Stephen Foster Handicap.

Triple Crown™ winner American Pharoah paraded before the crowd of 28,968 in front of the grandstand and paddock. Owner Ahmed Zayat, trainer Bob Baffert and jockey Victor Espinoza were also there for the official engraving of the
2015 Kentucky Derby trophy.

Seven horses lined up for the
Stephen Foster Handicap, the first Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Noble Bird prevailed against the 9-5 favorite, Lea, to earn an automatic berth into the
Breeders’ Cup Classic in October. The 4-year-old colt tracked early leader Paganol while Lea temporarily sat back in fourth. As Paganol began to tire, Noble Bird drove to the finish line and won by a neck at the wire with Lea.

Hoppertunity finished third another 5 ½ lengths back followed by Majestic Harbor, Cat Burglar, Commissioner and Paganol, respectively.

Stephen Foster Handicap Noble Bird Breeders Cup Challenge Series

*Image courtesy of Churchill Downs

How Breeders’ Cup® Qualifying Works

There are a few different ways to qualify for the Breeders’ Cup. The first is by winning a Breeders’ Cup Challenge race. The
Breeders’ Cup Challenge
“Win and You’re In” series consists of 78 stakes races. Winning one of these races automatically earns you entry into the corresponding Breeders’ Cup Championship race and also waives entry and starting fees.

There is a total of six challenge races for the Breeders’ Cup Classic, the first of which was the Stephen Foster Handicap. The next
Breeders’ Cup Challenge for the Breeders’ Cup Classic will be The Gold Cup at Santa Anita on June 27. The Gold Cup is a Grade 1 stakes race run over 1 ¼ miles and is open to horses age three and up.

Santa Anita Breeders Cup

The second way to qualify for the Breeders’ Cup is based on a points system, where horses are ranked based on their performance in major races during the year. Points are awarded based on the race quality and then by win, place and show (first, second and third place finishes). Take a look at the scale below:





Grade 1




Grade 2




Grade 3




The third way to gain entry to the Breeders’ Cup is to be selected by a panel of experts. For each Breeders’ Cup Championship race, there are a maximum of 14 horses selected. Seven of those horses qualify through Challenge races or the points system. Seven are selected by experts. The reasoning for this method of qualifying is to ensure the highest quality of competition for each of the races.

Santa Anita Race Track Breeders Cup

Attend the 2015 Breeders’ Cup®

With high hopes that American Pharoah will race in the Breeders’ Cup, it’s no surprise that people are lining up to secure their spot! We already know Noble Bird will be one of the horses to race in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Who else will join alongside?

With an Official Ticket Package direct from Breeders’ Cup and QuintEvents, you can be there to witness the action! Get an unbeatable experience that includes tickets, hospitality, exclusive insider extras and much more. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to head to the heart of the Bluegrass State in October and see some of the best horses compete at the 2015 Breeders’ Cup!

Secure Your Spot at the 2015 Breeders' Cup!