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Breeders’ Futurity Stakes History

The Breeders’ Futurity (G1) was inaugurated in 1910 and is held at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Kentucky; the host course since 1938. The race takes place in early October and is open to two-year-olds contested at a distance of 1 116 miles with a purse of $500,000.

The race was upgraded to Grade II status in 1976 and became a Grade I event in 2004. It has been run at various distances but has remained at 1 116 miles since 1981.

The Breeders’ Futurity is a ‘Road to the Kentucky Derby’ prep race and the winner is awarded 10 points towards qualifying for the Derby and the top four finishers receive a points spread of 10-4-2-1.   

Whirlaway won the 1940 Breeders’ Futurity on his way towards a Champion two-year-old season. He parlayed that into a Kentucky Derby victory and Triple Crown glory in 1941.

In the Breeders’ Futurity debut at Keeneland in 1938, Johnstown prevailed by a nose in a special stretch duel with Allegro. The next year Johnstown won the Kentucky Derby by a record 8 lengths and also went on to capture the Belmont Stakes. Swale is the third horse to win both the Breeders’ Futurity and Kentucky Derby.  

Polar Expedition set the race record time of 1:42.20 in 1993. Trainer D. Wayne Lukas is the leading trainer with six wins from 1991-2004. Jockey Brumfield won the race a record five times from 1969-1979.

Since 2007, the starting field of the race has averaged 12.2 juveniles. The 2018 Breeders’ Futurity was the 105th running, and 17 different jockeys have won the race in the last 20 years.

The biggest $2 win payout was in 2005 when Dawn of War went wire-to-wire to pull the major upset at 38-1 odds and returned $74.20.   
The Breeders’ Futurity is also a “Win and You’re In” Breeders’ Cup Challenge race and the winner earns an automatic entry and fees paid berth to the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.   

Four horses have won both the Breeders’ Futurity and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile: Classic Empire (2016), Favorite Trick (1997), Boston Harbor (1996) and Tasso (1985). All four were named Champion Two-year-old that year. Hall of Fame horses Round Table and Devil Diver also won the Breeders’ Futurity.

Other notable Futurity runners include 3rd place finisher Street Sense (2006) who went on to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and 2nd place finisher Answer Lively (1998), who won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.