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Ten Facts About 2024 Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series

Dating back two decades, this is the 17th year of the Breeders' Cup Challenge Series.

Chad B. Harmon

Every year, the road to the Breeders' Cup World Championships starts months before with a series of qualifying races that are known as the Breeders' Cup Challenge Series. The series has expanded over the years and it has consistently given fans and bettors a preview of some of the runners who'll vie for Breeders' Cup glory in the fall. Each winner of a Challenge Series race will receive an automatic qualifying berth, with fees paid, into a corresponding Breeders' Cup Race—as described in the series' popular tag line, "Win and You're In."

Below are some facts to know about the Breeders' Cup Challenge Series that leads all the way up to the 41st Breeders' Cup World Championships on Friday, Nov. 1, and Saturday, Nov. 2, at Del Mar in Southern California.

1. This year marks the 17th year of the Breeders' Cup Challenge Series. The Breeders' Cup World Championships date back more than two decades earlier, having been first run in 1984. 

2. The 2024 Challenge Series actually began in 2023 with the first race of the series being the Gran Premio International Carlos Pellegrini run at San Isidro Racecourse in Argentina. That race is a "Win and You're In" qualifier for the Breeders' Cup Turf (G1T) and it was won by a horse named El Encinal.

3. The first three domestic "Win and You're In" races were held on the June 8 Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets undercard at Saratoga Race Course. National Treasure, Randomized, and Cogburn won the Metropolitan Handicap (G1), Ogden Phipps Stakes (G1), and Jaipur Stakes (G1T) and earned automatic berths to the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (G1), Breeders' Cup Distaff (G1), and Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (G1T), respectively.

4. Television coverage of Challenge Series races can be found on a total of five live broadcasts across NBC, CNBC, and FOX throughout the year. The first is set for Saturday, July 20 on NBC starting at 5 p.m. ET featuring the Haskell Invitational Stakes, which is a "Win and You're In" race for the Breeders' Cup Classic (G1). Coverage on NBC and CNBC will be simul-streamed on Peacock and and the NBC Sports app. Many of the other Challenge Series races this summer and fall will air on FanDuel TV, including international races from England's prestigious Royal Ascot meet in June and from Longchamp Racecourse in France in October.

5. The Challenge Series began in 2007 with 24 "Win and You're In" races from two countries. By 2014, it consisted of 71 races across 13 countries. For 2024, there are 82 races in the series that will take place in 12 countries.

6. After a successful restructuring in 2022, the 2024 series in the U.S. will again feature a regional qualifying program to balance divisional competition across the country. In 10 of the 14 race divisions, there will be one Breeders' Cup Challenge Series race per region, identified as East, Midwest, and West. Breeders' Cup will promote these regional rivalries on the road to the World Championships. All North American Challenge races must be graded or group stakes to be included in the series.

7. A new country will be represented in the Challenge Series for 2024: South Korea. Two races held at Seoul Racecourse on Sept. 8 will offer reserved positions in the World Championships at Del Mar: the Korea Cup (Dirt Mile) and the Korea Sprint (Breeders' Cup Sprint [G1]). Both of these are recognized as group 3 stakes by the International Cataloguing Standards, which sets criteria for quality in races held around the world. Korea's addition follows on the heels of Japan's recent success in the Breeders' Cup, represented by two winners in 2021 and the runner-up in last year's Breeders' Cup Classic, Derma Sotogake.

8. In 2023, there were 42 Challenge Series winners who ended up participating in the Breeders' Cup World Championships at Santa Anita Park | Track Profile">Santa Anita Park. Eight of them ended up winning their respective divisional Breeders' Cup races.

9. Breeders' Cup Classic 2023 winner White Abarrio led the octet of Challenge Series winners that won Breeders' Cup races last year. 

10. Six "Win and You're In" races for Breeders' Cup 2024 will be held at Del Mar, the site of this year's World Championships and also the 42nd Breeders' Cup in 2025.