The Breeders’ Cup World Championships started in 1984 and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) was part of the inaugural schedule. The race is held annually near the first week of November at major U.S. tracks selected in advance by the Breeders’ Cup committee.
The Juvenile is a 1 1⁄16 mile race for two-year-old colts or geldings and brings together the best colts from the various racing circuits across North American to compete in the most valuable race for two-year-olds. The current purse is $2 million.
The winner of the BC Juvenile is often crowned Champion Two-year-old Colt, and often becomes a leading favorite for the Kentucky Derby. However, the winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile has only gone on to win two Kentucky Derby’s and one other leg of the Triple Crown series races: Timber Country (1994 Preakness) and two Kentucky Derby winners Street Sense (2006) and Nyquist (2015).
Four European juveniles have captured the race, Vale of York (2009), Wilko (2004), Johannesburg (2001) and Arazi (1991).
Other notable wins and accomplishments in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile include 1997 winner Favorite Trick, who won by five lengths and became the first 2-year-old since Secretariat in 1972 to be named Horse of the Year.
Jockey’s Laffit Pincay (1985-1988) and Jerry Bailey (1986-1990) each won the Juvenile three times, and trainer D. Wayne Lukas has won the Juvenile a record five times (1986-1996).
The speed record was set in 2008 at Santa Anita Park by Midshipman (1:40.94).
Beginning in 2007, the Breeders’ Cup developed the Breeders’ Cup Challenge, a series of races for specific distance and surface divisions that allots automatic qualifying bids and fee paid entries to division Challenge race winners. These “Win and You’re In” qualifying races have become popular races throughout the Thoroughbred season and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile has four races in which allow for qualifying for automatic entry.
Currently there are four BC Juvenile “Win and You’re In” qualifying races:
- The Iroquois Stakes, a Grade 3 race run in September at Churchill Downs in Kentucky
- The American Pharoah Stakes (FronRunner), a Grade 1 race run in October at Santa Anita Park in California
- The Champagne Stakes, a Grade I race run in October at Belmont Park in New York
- The Breeders’ Futurity, a Grade I race run in October at Keeneland in Kentucky