08/31/2008 11:00PM

Hayward: 2010 Cup to Churchill


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – It appears as though the Breeders’ Cup will be headed back to Churchill Downs in 2010, if comments Monday by New York Racing Association president and chief executive officer Charles Hayward prove accurate.

At his annual end-of-meet press conference held in the Saratoga press box, Hayward was asked if NYRA was pursuing the Breeders’ Cup for Belmont Park in 2010. Hayward said that in April the Breeders’ Cup told him that Belmont would be getting the 2010 Breeders’ Cup, only to be told by Breeders’ Cup president Greg Avioli in early July that the Breeders’ Cup would be going to Churchill Downs that year. Churchill Downs last hosted the Breeders’ Cup in 2006, the year after Belmont last hosted the event.

“We pursued the Breeders’ Cup in 2010; we were told by the Breeders Cup that we got the Breeders’ Cup in 2010,” Hayward said. “Breeders’ Cup informed their board informally in April that Belmont was getting the Breeders’ Cup in 2010, which in turn I informed our board [in May] we had a handshake deal for 2010. And then in July I get a phone call from Avioli that Churchill Downs . . . had made a proposal in the dark of night that got submitted to their selection committee. They convened some kind of emergency meeting of the board, and without telling us or offering us the ability to respond, they awarded the 2010 Breeders’ Cup to Churchill Downs.”

Breeders’ Cup spokesman Jim Gluckson declined to comment on Hayward’s assertion, except to say, “We’re considering multiple options for the 2010 Breeders’ Cup. When we’re ready to make an announcement, we’ll do so at that time.”

Churchill Downs spokesman John Asher said: “We’re anxious to bring the Breeders’ Cup back to Churchill Downs as soon as possible. Regarding 2010, until there’s a formal announcement from Breeders’ Cup, we don’t have any further comment.”

The Breeders’ Cup is scheduled to be run over the newly installed synthetic surface at Santa Anita this year and next. Before the Breeders’ Cup apparently awarded the 2010 edition to Churchill Downs, Hayward said Belmont could be used as a back-up site this year and next year in case something went wrong at Santa Anita. Hayward has withdrawn that offer.

“When they awarded Churchill Downs the 2010 Breeders’ Cup, we suggested they might use Churchill as back-up site [in 2008-2009],’’ Hayward said. “If we weren’t going to get it in 2010, I don’t think we wanted to do all the work it might take to do it in 2008 or 2009. The earliest you’ll see the Breeders’ Cup at Belmont is 2011.”

The Breeders’ Cup, first run in 1984, has been conducted most often at Churchill Downs (six times) and Belmont (four).