01/26/2018 3:36PM

Breeders' Cup mum on possible changes, site selection


The board of the Breeders’ Cup met as scheduled on Friday in south Florida to discuss a number of potential changes to the organization’s event, but a spokesman for the group said after the meeting that there was “no news” to report.

Jim Gluckson issued the brief statement Friday in response to an inquiry about the meeting and whether the board had approved any of the various proposals that were said to be items of discussion.

“There is no news to discuss today,” Gluckson said.

Prior to the meeting, board members and officials close to the board had said that items up for discussion included a number of proposals that could have significant impacts on not just the two-day Breeders’ Cup event but the larger North American racing calendar. However, many of the proposals were considered longshots for approval.

The board was also expected to discuss potential host sites for the 2019 event and beyond from a roster of approximately six tracks. An official close to the board said the company was not expected to finalize any host sites at the board meeting, though it could choose to authorize negotiations with a potential host site for next year. Host-site negotiations usually take months to complete, and the Breeders’ Cup doesn’t typically announce a host site until the agreements are signed.

The 2018 host site will be Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. Last year, the event was held at Del Mar Thoroughbred Club for the first time.

Among the proposals that were expected to be discussed at the meeting was the addition of a new race to the Breeders’ Cup lineup, possibly a race restricted to 3-year-olds. The Breeders’ Cup has not added a race to its lineup since 2011, and that race, the Juvenile Sprint, was dropped after only two runnings.

Another proposal was to add the 3-year-old race, the Breeders’ Cup Derby, to the two-day lineup in its traditional slot at the beginning of November but move the Breeders’ Cup Classic, the event’s richest, most prestigious race, to a date one month later. That proposal was being pushed by board member Bobby Flay, the celebrity chef and horse owner, according to board members and officials close to the board, despite deep misgivings from members of the Breeders’ Cup staff.

Several news outlets, including Daily Racing Form, reported on the Flay proposal this week, and the idea was met with broad pushback from racing fans on social-media websites. A similar proposal to move the entire two-day event to mid-December was also heavily criticized.

Some members of the Breeders’ Cup board have been pressing for significant changes under a belief that handle and television ratings for the event should be rising at far higher rates.