10/07/2008 11:00PM

It's official: Churchill gets 2010 Breeders' Cup

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - As widely anticipated, Breeders' Cup officials announced Wednesday that the 2010 Breeders' Cup World Championships will be held at Churchill Downs for a record seventh time.

The announcement comes more than a month after New York Racing Association president Charles Hayward said Breeders' Cup officials had informed him that Churchill Downs, not Belmont Park, would be the 2010 host site. News of the Breeders' Cup announcement also had been reported earlier this week.

"As we all know, this has been the best kept secret in racing," joked Breeders' Cup chairman Bill Farish in his opening remarks.

Breeders' Cup and track officials said they were pleased to return the event to Churchill Downs, where six of the seven largest crowds in Breeders' Cup history have come. The track holds the Breeders' Cup attendance record at 80,452, set in 1998, and the BC record single-day ontrack and total handle when it last hosted the Breeders' Cup in 2006. "There is no community that supports the Breeders' Cup like Louisville, Kentucky, and southern Indiana," Churchill Downs Inc. president and chief executive officer Robert Evans said.

Although the 2006 Breeders' Cup was successful in terms of handle and attendance, Churchill Downs officials noted afterward that the event is not a financial boon for the host track.

When asked if the financial agreement between the Breeders' Cup and Churchill Downs had been altered for 2010, Breeders' Cup president Greg Avioli said that as a matter of policy his organization does not publicly discuss such terms, but added, "The proof is in the pudding; this is economically viable for Churchill Downs and the Breeders' Cup."

Avioli discounted Hayward's assertion, relayed to reporters at Saratoga on Sept. 1, that there had been an informal agreement between NYRA and the Breeders' Cup for Belmont Park to host the 2010 event.

"We had a discussion," Avioli said. "There was never a deal."

The Breeders' Cup, now a two-day event with 14 races and purses totaling $25.5 million, will be run in 2010 on Friday, Nov. 5, and Saturday, Nov. 6. It will be televised live on ESPN and ABC.

The Breeders' Cup coming to Churchill Downs in 2010 adds to what should be a landmark year for the equine industry in Kentucky, which also is hosting the World Equestrian Games in Lexington during September and early October of that year.

Churchill Downs spokesman John Asher said ticket prices and distribution information for the 2010 Breeders' Cup have not been established, but that fans could e-mail the track at Breederscup@kyderby.com to be placed on a notification list when ticket information becomes available.

The 2008 and 2009 runnings of the Breeders' Cup are set for Santa Anita.

Avioli said he would ultimately favor a rotation among a set number of tracks to host the Breeders' Cup, but determining "which tracks and how often" remains a challenging task.