2021 Breeders’ Cup Classic Horses

The only British winner of the Breeders’ Cup Classic came in 2008 with the triumph of the John Gosden-trained Raven’s Pass at Santa Anita, while France got on the scoresheet when Arcangues landed the biggest shock in the meeting’s history with a 133-1 success for Andre Fabre in 1993.

Other than that, the Americans have dominated the race – and it looks likely to be the same story this year.

Brad Cox has never won the Classic but that could be about to change if the market is any guide. The Kentucky trainer is responsible for the top two favourites among the Breeders’ Cup Classic entries – Knicks Go and Essential Quality.

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert has saddled more Breeders’ Cup Classic winners than anyone, with four of the last seven winners on his CV, and he has Medina Spirit among the leading contenders this time. However, that same horse failed a drug test after winning this year’s Kentucky Derby, a violation that may yet rule Baffert out of competing at the Breeders’ Cup 2021.

Mishriff would have been considered a serious Classic contender for Britain but is set to tackle the Turf instead if he makes the trip to Del Mar. In his absence, the visitors appear to lack a major Classic player this time round.

Breeders’ Cup Classic Final Entries For 2021

The final Breeders’ Cup entries for all 14 races will be revealed after the second entry stage on November 1.

Before that, there are two entry fees to be paid by the owners of Breeders’ Cup horses. Both the first and second entry fee equate to one per cent of the total prize-money for the race. So, to enter a horse in the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, two fees of $60,000 – totalling $120,000 – are required. 

The Breeders’ Cup pre-entries must be made this year by October 25, when the first entry fee is paid. The second entry fee has to be paid by November 1, the final entry stage.

A maximum of 14 starters are allowed to run in the Classic. If the final Breeders’ Cup entries for any race are greater than this, a ranking system based on races won and the judgement of a panel of experts is used to eliminate runners.

As soon as the final field of 14 is established at the second entry stage, the draw for the Breeders’ Cup Classic starting positions, along with the 13 other races, takes place.

2021 Breeders Cup Classic Favourites

There are two clear favourites among the Breeders’ Cup Classic entries – and both will be saddled by the same trainer.

Brad Cox won the prestigious Eclipse Award for Outstanding Trainer last year after a superb season that culminated with four winners at the Breeders’ Cup and will be keen to add a first Classic to his growing list of achievements.

The five-year-old Knicks Go is the older of his pair of greys. His glittering CV includes wins in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile and the £3 million Pegasus World Cup, and he has been as good as ever this year, winning his last two starts by clear-cut margins.

His younger stablemate Essential Quality is less experienced but was champion two-year-old last season after winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and has landed his last three starts in great style. He is the best three-year-old in America but has yet to race against older horses – as he will in the Breeders’ Cup Classic 2021.

Breeders’ Cup Classic Contenders For 2021

Each of the Breeders’ Cup entries will have qualified for the meeting via one of three routes.

The first, and simplest, is to win one of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge races which are staged around the world in the months leading up to the big meeting. An added benefit of this method of qualification is that there are no entry fees to pay.

The second route in for Breeders’ Cup contenders is via a points system, which ranks horses according to their performances in major races during the season. The system awards ten points for a win, six for second and four points for third in a Grade 1, with lesser points available for Grade 2s and 3s. 

The third way into the Breeders’ Cup lineup is through selection by a panel of experts. Seven of the 14 runners in each of the Breeders’ Cup races come from the Challenge series and points system, with the other half of the line-up left to the discretion of the panel.

2021 Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Del Mar, California

Del Mar is one of the worlds’ most attractive racecourses, nestled on the Pacific coastline, but the Californian track is not without its quirks.

It was founded in 1937 by a consortium led by legendary crooner Bing Crosby and quickly established itself as a playground for the West Coast’s rich and famous.

But it wasn’t until 2017 that Del Mar made its debut as a Breeders’ Cup host track – after which the idiosyncrasies of the course were blamed for a number of shock results. Only one favourite won on each of the Friday and Saturday, while Filly & Mare Sprint winner Bar Of Gold was the second-biggest priced winner in Breeders’ Cup history at 66-1.

It’s worth bearing this in mind if you are thinking of backing a favourite as Del Mar hosts its second Breeders’ Cup.

The main feature of the tight, turning one-mile Del Mar circuit is its short home straight, which can make it difficult for horses to make up ground from far back. The last Breeders’ Cup here was also afflicted by a track bias that favoured outside closers over horses finishing on the inside.

The unusually short straight has already ruled one of the European stars out of the Classic, with John Gosden citing it as a reason for aiming Mishriff at the easier Turf option – and the Newmarket trainer knows Del Mar more than most in Britain, having spent ten summers at the track in his early training days and claiming the leading trainer title there in 1985.

What are the Breeders’ Cup nomination fees

All runners at the Breeders’ Cup must be the offspring a stallion who has been nominated to the Breeders’ Cup programme. To do this, American studs pay an annual fee equivalent to the amount they charge for their stallion to breed with a mare. For European stallions, the fee is the equivalent of half of their stud fee. In addition, individual foals born in the US must be nominated by October 15 in the year of their birth at a one-off cost of £400. This foal fee for Breeders’ Cup nominations is waived for horses born outside of the US.