The Breeders' Cup World Championships
is an annual series of Grade I Thoroughbred horse races, operated by Breeders' Cup Limited, a company formed in 1982.
Leading Thorougbred owner and breeder John Gaines, and other industry members like trainer John Nerud, came up with the idea during the 1982 Kentucky Derby Festival. The plan was to have a North American championship to close the racing year.
A maximum of 14 contenders are allowed in each of the races, except for the Dirt Mile which has 12 horses. The Breeders’ Cup selects contenders based upon a series of criteria such as, Breeders’ Cup Challenge Races (Win and You’re In), a point system and the judgement from a panel of racing experts. This helps ensure quality competition and gives clear guidance if races are oversubscribed.