A record 201 horses, including five returning 2013 winners, have been pre-entered for this year’s Breeders’ Cup Championship weekend. The championships, featuring 13 Grade I events worth $26 million, will be held at Santa Anita for the third straight year 31 October and 1 November.

The weekend's crowning event, the $5-million GI Breeders' Cup Classic, was oversubscribed with 15 pre-entries. While the Classic has been won by older horses in 10 of the past 12 years, this year's renewal has attracted a powerful sophomore contingent, led by GI Kentucky Derby and GI Preakness Stakes winner California Chrome (Lucky Pulpit), last year's unbeaten juvenile champion Shared Belief (Candy Ride), GI Belmont Stakes winner Tonalist (Tapit) and GI Haskell Invitiational winner Bayern (Offlee Wild). The last sophomores to win the Classic were Curlin (Smart Strike) in 2007 and Raven's Pass (Elusive Quality) in 2008. Big Cazanova (Giant's Causeway) was not selected into the Classic field and will need a defection to draw into the race. The European invaders are led by a pair of defending in champions.

Coolmore's Magician (Ire) (Galileo) was pre-entered in defense of his title in last year's GI Breeders' Cup Turf, while Dank (GB) (Dansili) will be looking for a second straight victory in the GI Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf. From the California-based home team, Goldencents (Into Mischief) will be looking to add a second win in the GI Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile and Secret Circle (Eddington) will be trying for another win in the GI Xpressbet Breeders' Cup Sprint. Ria Antonia (Rockport Harbor), who won the 2013 GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies via disqualification, will be seeking her first victory since in the GI Longines Breeders' Cup Distaff.

The Distaff is the jewel of Friday's card and will feature a generational match-up between divisional leaders Close Hatches (First Defence) and Untapable (Tapit). The $2-million race will be without defending champion Beholder (Henny Hughes), who was withdrawn from consideration after spiking a temperature Sunday. A total of 28 horses have been cross-entered in multiple races.

Extracts from Thoroughbred Daily News