03/03/2010 12:00AM

Breeders' Cup considering changes


The board of trustees of the Breeders' Cup met on Wednesday to receive a briefing on the discussion over whether to name a permanent host site or establish a regular rotation for its 14-race year-end event, but no decision is expected for several months, according to officials of the organization.

The trustees meeting followed a meeting one week ago of the organization's board of directors to discuss the subject of future sites for the Breeders' Cup. Last year, a committee set up by the Breeders' Cup to examine its future had recommended that the organization consider a permanent host site or rotation.

The 2010 Breeders' Cup is scheduled for Churchill Downs in Louisville on Nov. 5-6. The previous two events were held at Santa Anita Park in Southern California, but many horseplayers, trainers, and owners have been critical of the selection because of Santa Anita's synthetic surface. However, the events drew record numbers of European entries, the weather was perfect, and handle and attendance for the two events was relatively strong given the current economic climate.

According to officials, Santa Anita, Churchill, and Belmont Park remain the most logical contenders for a permanent site or as part of an established rotation. One official said that Santa Anita has expressed the most enthusiasm to serve as a permanent host site, and is favored by many directors. A 2011 site for the event has not yet been named, in part because of the current discussion.

"The idea is to not have to discuss where the Breeders' Cup is going to be every 18 months," said one official. "Let's set it straight for the next five or 10 years and try to build up some momentum."

Also on Wednesday, Breeders' Cup chairman Bill Farish disavowed recent comments made by board member Satish Sanan on a horseracing satellite-radio show, "At The Races," which claimed that Churchill Downs was the "worst organization" to host a Breeders' Cup, and that Santa Anita was the "best site" to hold the event.

"Those views in no way reflect the official position of Breeders' Cup Ltd.," Farish said, calling the comments "extremely disappointing." He also apologized to Churchill Downs and the state of Kentucky for the comments.

In a statement released with Farish, Sanan said, "I regret my poor choice of words."

Negotiations over host sites have become extremely sensitive over the past five years because of the worsening economic climate in the racing industry and raw feelings over previous negotiations. The talks also have political overtones because Breeders' Cup typically receives tax breaks from the legislature in the state where the event is held.