Breeders Cup History

When it comes to top horse racing events, the Breeders Cup is no doubt one of the first names that surfaces. Spanning two days in early November, the Breeders Cup has grown to feature 15 races that involve many of the world's top horse owners and trainers. And it's no secret why horse racing's elite show up for this event when you consider the large amount of prize money available. In fact, each race at the 2012 Breeders Cup will feature purses ranging from $500,000 to $5 million.

But this event hasn't always been such a spectacle since its beginnings were fairly humble. That said, let's take a closer look at the history of the Breeders Cup along with some of its most notable records.

Breeders Cup Beginnings

In the early 1980s, pet food heir John R. Gaines felt that horse racing was declining due to corruption. So in addition to his many other efforts that were aimed at cleaning up the sport, Gaines started the Breeders Cup. The idea was to create a non-biased, end-of-season championship event for thoroughbred racing.

The first Breeders Cup took place in 1984 at the Hollywood Park race track in Inglewood California, and the following seven races ran: Classic, Distaff (now Ladies' Classic), Juvenile, Juvenile Fillies, Mile, Sprint and Turf. As discussed before, the event has grown quite a bit since 1984 because the schedule now includes 15 races. Furthermore, the prize money has definitely taken a step up from these initial days - especially with the Classic where a $5 million purse is offered!

Notable Achievements in Breeders Cup History

Back-to-Back - The horse Tiznow is the Classic's only back-to-back champion after winning this prestigious race in 2000 and 2001.

Money Man - Allen E. Paulson has earned more money than any owner in Breeders Cup history with $8,730,000.

Leading Lady - In 2009, Zenyatta became the first female to win the Classic. She has also earned more money than any other Breeders Cup horse with $4,680,000. Tiznow isn't far behind this mark since he earned $4,560,400 in career winnings.

Double Winner - Want more Breeders Cup history from Zenyatta? She's also the only horse to win two different races at this event in The Classic and Ladies' Classic (both 2009).

Best Jockey - Retired jockey Jerry D. Bailey has ridden the most horses to victory since he won 16 Breeders Cup races. It's possible that Mike D. Smith could someday pass Bailey though since he has 15 victories.

Top Trainer - D. Wayne Lukas dominated the Breeders Cup as a trainer since he trained 18 eventual champions. His record is all the more impressive when you consider that Claude R. McGaughey III is second among trainers with 9 wins.