Updated on 03/28/2014 6:29PM

Keeneland will bid on Breeders' Cup


LEXINGTON, Ky. – Keeneland Racecourse in Lexington is reviewing site plans that would allow the iconic racetrack to accommodate the crowds that attend the two-day Breeders’ Cup event in anticipation of making a bid for the event later this year, the chief executive of Keeneland said Friday.

The potential bid, which was first reported by the Lexington Herald-Leader, could be submitted this summer with an eye on hosting the 2015 event, Keeneland president Bill Thomason said Friday. Keeneland has informed the Breeders’ Cup that it is interested in hosting the event but has not yet prepared a formal application because of an ongoing evaluation of how the grounds would be prepared to host the event’s large crowds.

“This place is special, and we want the event to be successful, so we want it to be done in a way that people expect from Keeneland,” Thomason said.

Keeneland has never hosted a Breeders’ Cup, in part because its grandstand has been considered too small to accommodate Breeders’ Cup crowds. Keeneland’s record attendance is 40,617 for Blue Grass Stakes Day in the spring of 2012, but any crowd in excess of 30,000 at the track can make for an uncomfortable day at the races, and the Saturday Breeders’ Cup card routinely attracts in excess of 50,000 spectators.

When the Breeders’ Cup is held at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., also in the heart of horse-racing country, attendance on Saturday is usually around 70,000.

Thomason said Keeneland would erect temporary structures to accommodate a larger number of spectators for the event, including luxury suites and villas.

The last two Breeders’ Cup events have been held at Santa Anita Park in Southern California, which is also the host for this year’s event. The Breeders’ Cup has not been held anywhere other than Santa Anita or Churchill since 2007.

Keeneland’s bid may be negatively affected by its artificial main track because many Breeders’ Cup board members prefer the event to be held at a track with a dirt surface. Thomason said Keeneland continues to be engaged in an “ongoing evaluation” of the artificial surface, but he declined to comment on whether Keeneland planned to replace the track.

“We’re very proud of our surface, but it’s an ongoing process,” he said.

The impetus to consider a bid to host the Breeders’ Cup may have come from the association’s board, which is comprised of many central Kentucky breeders. Thomason said one of the benefits of hosting the event would be to showcase the company’s November breeding stock sale, which typically starts two days after the Breeders’ Cup.

“We think it could be an incredible boost for the November sale,” he said.

Edward Nelson More than 1 year ago
After the last 2 years at santa anita and the ridiculous speed bias that we had to deal with, id be open to anywhere else. Poly or not, as long as the track plays fair without a bias.
John Kernell More than 1 year ago
I have been to every Breeders Cup with the exceptions being Inaugural at Hollywood and Hurricane Sandy year due to flight cancellations. As a New Yorker, I do not want a Breeders Cup at Belmont until Belmont is resurrected to resemble Meydan in Dubai! I welcome a Keeneland Breeders Cup. I am sure it will be tight but so was Woodbine,Lone Star and Arlington. At least in Lexington and Louisville we have a chance for not freezing to death as we did in Arlington and almost every Belmont year. Woodbine lucked out but I would not roll the dice on that again. I think Gulfstream and Hialeah should get back in the game as well! I love Santa Anita for the weather but the fields have no doubt suffered by having there every year. With that said the reason I go every year is because the payoff values have always been inflated. Last two years at Santa Anita those values have reduced considerably. Time for a change!
Mark D More than 1 year ago
How about we have the Superbowl in Alaska or somewhere it is guaranteed to snow. That's about a stupid idea of the BC on the Poly.
Edward Nelson More than 1 year ago
We've already had a BC on poly genius
John Stevelberg More than 1 year ago
Wish them the best - been to 3 BC's and it really matters little if there are 30 or 50k at the track. Its the kind of place where racing should be conducted !
Paul Tuel Jr More than 1 year ago
Weather plays a big part in it being at SA every year. No way Keeneland will get it as long as they have polytrack. I did enjoy the BC when it was at Belmont years ago and would be all for it moving back there!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
in the same way SA held the BC with Poly? you never know...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Keeneland has never bid to host the event. Polytrack would not prevent the BC committee fron considering them as much as the seating being inadequate.
Dee R. Eff More than 1 year ago
Love Keeneland but they can't handle the Cup, and it's too far away from the mainstream that people will want. Just let Churchill handle it. Love that facility though.
Judy Maass Gadwood More than 1 year ago
I would love to see the BC at Keenland. I love that track, plus I have friend who live in Lexington :-) I've enjoyed the BC at Santa Anita because it's close to me. We have the great weather year round AND lodging, etc. is easy access. One than one friend has told me that they would never go back to Churchill Downs for a BC. Derby is one thing, but the BC was a horrible experience according to them. I haven't been so I can't speak first hand.
bleck1022 More than 1 year ago
And I feel the exact opposite way. BC's there have been amazing for me. But Derbies have been rainy and too chaotic at the betting windows.
Matthew Ellis More than 1 year ago
Rosie, I have been screaming the most equipped to handle the Breeders Cup is BELMONT PARK. Why do they keep avoiding the Big Apple NY. Its the grandest facility revered by most fans. Everyone loves the PARK and features a very even track and true TURF course. Start spreading the news !
Trent More than 1 year ago
New York in November? Do you remember this past BC? East coast trainers almost couldn't even ship their horses out the weather was so bad. I like Belmont but sincerely hope we never see a BC on the East coast. Keep it out west, or move it to Gulfstream if they can expand their facilities enough.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
SA weather in November is consistent but not a guarantee. I remember Jon Vietch complaining from his booth in NY that he was not looking forward to going to Toronto for the Breeders Cup. He thought nit would be snowy...what a dumb A. I had the pleasure of sitting a few rows up from him in Toronto as he did the commentating that day. He went from jacket / hat/ turtle neck to no hat and no jacket and finally a golf shirt. The sun beat his bald head like John Bonham does on a snare drum. The end of the day his head was crimsom red. It was high 75-80 that day. Anyhting is possible.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
NYRA has not put in a bid to host in the last five years due to all of the restructuring and turmoil with the NYRA operation. Last statement by NYRA concerning hosting the BC, was they will be looking at a bid in the next few years.
Mark Evangelisti More than 1 year ago
Belmont is awful in the fall. It is not revered by all. It's a monstrosity of a place. Minus the speed bias. SA is the place to have. That is all because of the weather,
Jeff Gasior More than 1 year ago
rosie, Belmont is in New York, first weekend in November, been there, done that, enough said!
Rosie More than 1 year ago
i think it is totally one sided andan outrage that santa anita got it 3 years running,,, WTF is wrong with belmont??????????
Derek More than 1 year ago
Belmont is tired and the last time it was held there the catering offer was appalling!