The Win And You’re In System for the Breeders’ Cup

Each year the Breeders’ Cup World Thoroughbred Championships determine the best horses in many different classes. Of the thousands of race horses that compete each year at tracks all over the world, just a little over 100 will make it into the starting gates of the Breeders’ Cup. How are these horses chosen?

The Win and You’re In system was developed to create something similar to a playoff system for horses. Rather than earning points as horses do to qualify for the Kentucky Derby, some races offer a Breeders’ Cup entry to the winner. This system is designed to produce more competitive races on the lower racing circuits.

About Win and You’re In Horse Races

The Breeders’ Cup is held each year in late October or November. In the months leading up to the main event, horse racing tracks around the country will begin offering the Win and You’re In events. Most of these races are still reserved for turf events.


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These races can include sprints, routes, races for males and females, and even races for older horses. To qualify for a spot in the Breeders’ Cup, a horse only needs to win one of these races. Each race is tied to a specific Breeders’ Cup race. Winning one is not the same as winning a Golden Ticket which would allow the horse to enter whichever race they choose. They must enter the race for which the Win and You’re In Event was created.

The horse racing tracks that are chosen to host these races benefit from the attention that each race gets from the media and the public. The races are also apt to attract prominent horses and trainers from all over the world. They can also give horses on a local racing circuit a chance to step up and compete with the big boys.

A Chance for Local Horsemen and Horses

Hosting a Win and You’re In Breeders’ Cup event comes with certain perks for the host track. One of these can be purse money that is added to the event. The value of the races can be high, and some local horsemen and the horses that they train may have a shot at winning some of that money.

There may even be stipulations included that a certain number of the horses that are entered in the event must come from the local circuit. This makes it even more likely that a local track will embrace the effort.

Is This System Efficient in Selecting Horses?

One of the things that people expect from the Breeders’ Cup is competitive racing. They believe that each race will showcase the best horses in the world, and they have a right to this expectation. There would be little difference between a Breeders’ Cup program and a regular race day if there were no way to guarantee the quality of horses chosen to compete.

The Breeders’ Cup learned many years ago that there had to be measures in place to restrict the Breeders’ Cup events to the most talented horses. One need look no farther than the 1996 Breeders’ Cup Turf and Rick’s Natural Star to see why there must be a system of selection.

At the time of the event, a horse owner or trainer only needed to pay the $40,000 entry fee to enter the race. The owner and trainer of Rick’s Natural Star, Dr. William Livingston, did just that. He also drove the horse to the race in a one-horse trailer. It was quite a debacle, but worse was the horse being eased in the race by its jockey and officially described as distanced.

The Win and You’re In system for the Breeders’ Cup is a more efficient way of choosing horses that will compete in the biggest event in horse racing. It serves as a type of playoff or elimination system. With many races available, it also opens up opportunities for people like Dr. Livingston who think they have a great horse. All they need to do is enter one of these special events and prove it.

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