Manikato Stakes winner qualifies for US Breeders’ Cup Sprint

The Manikato Stakes (G1) at Moonee Valley on September 25 has been included in an expanded schedule of 62 races offering automatic qualification to the US Breeders’ Cup World Championships.

The 2009 Breeders’ Cup events will be run at Santa Anita Park on November 6 and 7.  The Manikato winner will be invited to run in the corresponding Breeders’ Cup Sprint.

The Breeders’ Cup Challenge series will also include races from France and Ireland for the first time in 2009.  In France, winners of the Prix Maurice de Gheest (G1) at Deauville on August 9 and Prix de l’Abbaye (G1) at Longchamp on October 4 will be invited.

In Ireland, the winner of the Pretty Polly Stakes (G1) at the Curragh this Saturday and the Irish Champion Stakes (G1) at Leopardstown on September 9 will also receive automatic entries.

“We have expanded this year’s Breeders’ Cup Challenge series to maximize the global popularity of the Breeders’ Cup,” spokesman Greg Avioli said.  “It will create increased international awareness on a weekly basis from July through October.”

Sight Winner became the first horse to receive a starting berth in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) when he won the Champions Mile at Sha Tin in April.