Breeders’ Cup Classic: How to Qualify

By Darragh Farrelly June 24, 2016

This weekend sees the third race in the Breeders Cup Challenge Series, the Gold Cup at Santa Anita. The winner of the race will receive automatic entry to the Breeders’ Cup Classic, horse racing’s blue riband event on November 5.

How It Works

Simple, win and you’re in. A field of 14 will go to post for the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park at the beginning of November. How those entrants are determined can be sometimes tricky.


Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series

This weekend we will see horses go to post in the third race (of seven) of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series, the Gold Cup at Santa Anita. Winners of each of the seven Challenge Series gain automatic entry to the Classic. Thus far, Moanin, winner of the February Stakes in Tokyo, and Bradester in the Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill are confirmed. After this weekend, just four races remain in the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series for the Classic:

July 31: Haskell Invitational at Monmouth

August 6: The Whitney at Saratoga

October 1: Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita Park.


October 8: Jockey Club Gold Cup Invitational at Belmont Park.

Of course, like all Breeders’ Cup Championship races, there are 14 entries to each race. After the seven “Win and You’re In” entries, the remaining seven participants can qualify in one of two ways.

Points System

Specific point values are assigned to first, second and third-place finishes in stakes throughout the United States and Canada from January 1 up until the pre-entry deadline of October 24, that have been granted Graded status by the American Graded Stakes Committee of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association or the Jockey Club of Canada.  

Based on this system, win, place and show horses in Grade I stakes earn ten, six and four points, respectively. The top three finishers in Grade II stakes earn six, four and two points respectively, and in Grade III races the points earned are four, two and one, respectively. Except for the four two-year old Championships races, Graded Stakes Points for dirt races will be the only points considered for horses pre-entered in dirt Championships Races and Graded Stakes Points for turf races will be the only points considered for horses pre-entered in Turf Championships races. All Graded Stakes Points will be considered for the four two-year old Championship Races.





Grade 1




Grade 2




Grade 3




Field Selection

The field selection system will be implemented as necessary following the taking of pre-entries on October 24, 2016, to officially rank the oversubscribed fields. The Racing Directors/Secretaries Panel will rank all the horses pre-entered in the oversubscribed races. After pre-entry, any vacancies in the fields will be filled by horses in order of panel preference.  

At this present time, California Chrome is regarded as favorite for the race, at 4/1, followed by Beholder and Frosted at 6/1 respectively.

Get Your VIP Package Today!

Don’t miss your chance to witness The Breeders’ Cup World Championships® from November 4 – 5. Feel the thrill of victory when the grand spectacle of the ultimate showcasing of Thoroughbred racing hits the highest level of international competition.

Make sure you don’t miss your chance to witness this showpiece event by getting one of our ticket packages!  Our unique packages include private secure entrances, access to exclusive in-track hospitality party venues on race days, celebrity meet-and-greets, and more.


Take Me to The 2016 Breeders’ Cup!