The Breeders' Cup World Championships is an annual series of thoroughbred horse races, most but not all Grade I, operated by Breeders' Cup Limited, a company formed in 1982. From its inception in 1984 through 2006, it was a single-day event; starting in 2007, it expanded to two days. The location changes each year. All sites have been in the United States, except in 1996, when the races were at the Woodbine Racetrack in Canada.
The event was created as a year-end championship for North American thoroughbred racing, and also attracts top horses from other parts of the world, especially Europe. The Breeders' Cup was founded in 1982 by pet food heir John R. Gaines (1928–2005), a leading thoroughbred owner and breeder who wanted to clean up the sport's image. Before the Breeders' Cup expanded to two days, it was generally considered to be the richest day in sports. As of 2008, the second day of the Breeders' Cup is the second-richest. In 2008, a total of $17 million was awarded on that day, down from $20 million in 2007 (two races were moved from Day 2 to Day 1). The richest single day in sports is now another Thoroughbred racing event, Dubai World Cup Night. It features six races with a combined purse of $21 million in 2008.
The attendance at the Breeders's Cup ranks fourth or fifth in North America and usually surpasses the attendance of all other stakes races. The attendance of the Breeders' Cup typically only trails the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Kentucky Oaks (and in some years, the Belmont Stakes); for more information see American Thoroughbred Racing top Attended Events.
With the addition of three new races for 2008, a total of $25.5 million was awarded over the two days, up from $23 million in 2007. Each Breeders' Cup race awards to the winner a garland of flowers draped over the withers of the winning horse and four Breeders' Cup Trophy presented to the connections of the winners.
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