Let the Championship Races Begin! 2021 Breeders’ Cup Pre-Entries Released

Led by star stablemates Knicks Go and Essential Quality in the $6 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic, a total of 196 horses – including a record 56 from overseas – have been pre-entered for the 2021 Breeders’ Cup World Championships Nov. 5-6 at Del Mar.

The 38th Breeders’ Cup will offer 14 races with purses and awards totaling more than $31 million. On “Future Stars Friday,” there will be five World Championships races exclusively for 2-year-olds. There will be nine Breeders’ Cup races on the Saturday program.

Breeders’ Cup pre-entries by year





Del Mar






Santa Anita Park



Churchill Downs



Del Mar



Santa Anita Park





The 56 international horses span seven countries: Great Britain (26), Ireland (17), Japan (8), France (2), Argentina (1), Peru (1), and South Africa (1).

Breeders’ Cup saw eight returning winners pre-entered this year in Knicks Go, Essential Quality, Tarnawa, Audarya, Order of Australia, Gamine, Glass Slippers, and Golden Pal. Shortly after pre-entries were announced, trainer Aidan O’Brien said a setback would prevent last year’s FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile Presented by PDJF winner Order of Australia from making the trip.

The number of horses pre-entered this year, 196, is comparable with the 201 pre-entered in last year’s event at Keeneland. The number is up from 187 pre-entered for the 2017 event, which also was contested at Del Mar. That marked the first year Del Mar hosted Breeders’ Cup and this year will be the second time the Southern California track hosts the event.

Click here for a listing off all the horses pre-entered in the 2021 Breeders’ Cup

From this year’s group, 46 pre-entered horses earned automatic starting positions into the World Championships races through the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series.

“We are very proud of the magnificent array of talent of group and graded stakes winners from around the world who have been pre-entered for this year’s World Championships,” said Breeders’ Cup president and CEO Drew Fleming. “International competition at its highest level is the hallmark of the Breeders’ Cup, and we thank the horsemen and women who prepare these outstanding equine athletes for the biggest races in their careers for their participation.

“We also thank our breeders and nominators, whose support of our $31 million in purses and awards is a true testament to their commitment to the Championships.”

The World Championships will be televised live on NBC, NBCSN, and TVG. Coverage is scheduled from 5-9 p.m. ET Nov. 5 on NBCSN and TVG and continues Nov. 6 on NBCSN and TVG from 2:30- 8 p.m. The World Championships conclude live and in prime time on NBC from 8-9 p.m.

Korea Racing Authority’s Knicks Go won last year’s Big Ass Fans Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile in record time at Keeneland. He will now try to add the event’s biggest prize, the Longines Classic.

“It would be an amazing achievement,” trainer Brad Cox said, if Knicks Go could follow with a win in the Classic after his dominating Dirt Mile win in 2020. “It would definitely go down as one of the better accomplishments since the inception of the Breeders’ Cup.”

In the Classic Cox also will send out Godolphin homebred Essential Quality, who won last year’s TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance and this year added a classic score in the Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets.

The Aga Khan’s Tarnawa will try to defend her 2020 victory in the 1 1/2-mile Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf as trainer Dermot Weld has made that race first preference for the 5-year-old daughter of Shamardal. Tarnawa, who finished second against males in the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe Oct. 3 at Longchamp, also is pre-entered in the 1 3/8-mile Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly and  Mare Turf.

Weld said Oct. 27 that Tarnawa has put together another top season and will be retired at year’s end. He said since he had the option to pre-enter both races he took advantage of the opportunity but thought the Turf would be the better fit.

The most popular race on the card is the FanDuel Mile, which saw 24 horses entered. The field is limited to 14 starters.

The field with the fewest pre-entries is the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint, where just seven horses are entered topped by Gamine, who will try to defend her 2020 victory in this race. The champion daughter of Into Mischief has won her four starts this year, all graded stakes, including the Ketel One Ballerina Handicap Aug. 28 at Saratoga Race Course.

The other returning winners include Audarya, who will try to defend her 2020 win in the Filly and Mare Turf; Glass Slippers, looking to repeat in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, and Golden Pal, who will try this year’s Turf Sprint after winning last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint.