06/17/2014 11:48AM

Report: Keeneland to host 2015 Breeders' Cup

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LEXINGTON, Ky. – The Breeders’ Cup will announce later this month that the two-day event will be held for the first time at Keeneland Race Course in 2015, according to a report in the Louisville Courier-Journal.

Officials for Keeneland and the Breeders’ Cup on Tuesday would not comment on the report, which also said the event will return to Santa Anita in Arcadia, Calif., in 2016 and then be moved in 2017 to another first-time venue, Del Mar racetrack in Del Mar, Calif. The report cited two unidentified sources “with knowledge of the plans.”

The decisions to hold the event at Keeneland and Del Mar would represent a marked departure by the Breeders’ Cup board in determining host sites. Although the tracks are among the most popular, aesthetically pleasing, and vibrant on the U.S. map, both also have small grandstands compared to the behemoths that have hosted the event over the past seven years, when the Breeders’ Cup has been held exclusively at either Santa Anita or Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.

Keeneland officials said earlier this year that they would bid on hosting the Breeders’ Cup as early as 2015, with plans to erect temporary seating for the event, including luxury tents and villas. The track’s existing facilities, which have permanent seating for approximately 9,000, can be uncomfortably crowded on any big Saturday of racing, when attendance typically reaches 30,000 and more. Record attendance at the track is 40,617, set at the spring meet in 2012.

Attendance for the Saturday Breeders’ Cup card has regularly exceeded 50,000 when held at Santa Anita and 70,000 when held at Churchill Downs.

The Breeders’ Cup board met June 11 to discuss the site plans. Its chief executive, Craig Fravel, is the former executive vice president of Del Mar, and its chairman, Will Farish Jr., is a Keeneland board member. Central Kentucky breeders have been aggressively promoting Keeneland’s bid, despite clear signals from some Breeders’ Cup board members that they prefer to host the event in Southern California because of its predictable fall weather and the gorgeous backdrop at Santa Anita of the San Gabriel Mountains.

Central Kentucky breeders believe that holding the Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland in early November will give a boost to the association’s November breeding stock sale, the largest of its kind in North America. The sale typically begins the Monday after the Breeders’ Cup.

Keeneland decided this year to rip out its artificial surface in favor of a return to a dirt track, with installation complete by the fall meet this year. The artificial surface was first installed at the track in 2006, and its fatality rate dropped sharply. Breeders’ Cup board members decided several years ago that they favored siting the event at tracks with dirt surfaces on the main track.

Del Mar plans to replace its artificial surface with a dirt track after the close of its 2014 meet. The track also is currently widening its turf course to accommodate 14 runners, considered a necessity for holding the Breeders’ Cup.

In previous years when the Breeders’ Cup was held in Kentucky, the state legislature granted a tax break to Churchill Downs worth approximately $1 million. Damon Thayer, the Kentucky Senate majority floor leader, said Tuesday that the legislature likely would not discuss a proposal to resurrect the expired tax break until the legislature meets for the 2015 session.

“Once a contract is signed between Breeders’ Cup and Keeneland, that would be something that we could start to consider,” Thayer said. “That tax break has been authorized and reauthorized several times, but it’s going to take some thought and consideration since it has expired.”

Thayer added that he believed “Keeneland has the ability to be an excellent host” for the event.

“I have a lot of faith in Keeneland and Central Kentucky, and this is a great day for the state,” he said.

Blaine MacMillan 11 months ago
Belmont on big event days any day and any time....but I'll be at Keeneland.
Lefty 11 months ago
Ohhh, I might be tempted to head on down there! Sounds Groovy!
Dee R. Eff 11 months ago
good luck getting a ticket.
russell 11 months ago
Ask Wayne Lukas and Todd Pletcher and they will both tell you Belmont is the fairest track in America. There is rarely a bias.
Frank Reach 11 months ago
Belmont is great. But, one problem it has involving the BC is the fact that because of it's 1 1/2 size, it's takes away that the 1 mile races are only run on one turn at Belmont....which inherently turns them into an elongated sprint at Belmont rather than a two turn race. Other than that Belmont is beautiful.
Dee R. Eff 11 months ago
Not to the horse and rider, only visually.
Howard Marks 10 months ago
so what?
Irene Davis 10 months ago
Agree. Sad that Belmont is not in the running, last hosted BY in 2005 and it was my first BC live experience and it was awesome! Hit my very first Pick 4 that day!
Con MacCarthy 11 months ago
I attend every year,temporary stands will not work,ask Arlington Park. As beautiful of a track and its surroundings the venue is just to small. Churchill,Santa Anita and Belmont are the only places that can handle the crowds.
Frank Reach 11 months ago
Keeneland is a beautiful racetrack ....that's for sure...BUT, It's been my opinion for years now, that the BC should be held EVERY year at Churchill Downs. First off, they do a great job. But, mostly racing biggest fans race of the year is the Kentucky Derby. If they kept the BC at Churchill, then East horses would go, West horses would go, Europe horses would go, AND the then the Breeding Industry would have a constant standard for what track surface the elite races are run on...and breed accordingly. As we all know Churchill's Dirt and Turf surfaces play pretty fair on most days, without the bias that some of the other tracks get...ex: SA speed favoring...as Kee will surely be when it goes back to dirt. Anyway, it would allow fans of horse racing from the gambling to the breeders to have consistency in where the championships are won or lost. Anyway...food for thought.
FESTUS ELROY 11 months ago
Lets see have the Breeders Cup in great weather in a safe upscale environment or Louisville ghetto.Sooner or later they'll do the smart thing and make Santa Anita aka The Great Race Place the permanent home.Churchill has the Derby,Pimlico the Preakness,Belmont the Belmont Stakes.I go every year wherever it's held and none of the other venues come close to Santa Anita .
Frank Reach 11 months ago
Santa Anita is beautiful , I agree. I've enjoyed the BC there too. On thing you and I can agree on...is that I'd like to see the BC have a permanent home.
Edward Nelson 11 months ago
Hopefully Santa Anita won't destroy this years breeders cup like they did last year. Biggest speed bias in the history of racing last year on friday. What a joke
sjm80s . 11 months ago
THATS why they are transitioning to dirt.......
Walter 11 months ago
Who cares how many people Kee can hold? Most of us watch & bet on the BC from a simulcast location anyway. Kee can put some temp seats & raise the capacity to 25,000 and all is fine. Problem solved
Dee R. Eff 11 months ago
The problem is not solved and many will care. The temporary seating and tents won't cut it and capacity will be well below a larger venue. Tickets are a tough get at the larger venues and for this event tickets will be scalped for at least 5 times their value if you can even find them. When the tickets become available for regular fans, there will be very few available if at all. I love Keeneland, but this will be similar to Arlington. Logistics are also involved. Many will be shut out of hotels and flights and from Louisville they will have another hours drive to Keeneland. Keeneland is great, but this will be a problem you will never hear about unless you're one of the thousand trying to get there.
scott maly 11 months ago
if you're one of the people that'll just be at a simulcast location than you have no say in the matter....the problem will be for those of us that would like to be there in person...just like the fact that it being at santa anita all the time excludes fans from the east and midwest from going
Mike 10 months ago
I live in Virginia and will be going to the Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita this year for the third year in a row. LA has plentiful air traffic and hotels (hotels near the track raise their prices for that week-end, but a bit farther away they do not) so it's not really that much more expensive to go even traveling from the east coast. I haven't priced options for Keeneland, but when I looked at airfare and hotel prices a couple of years ago for Kentucky Derby week-end, it seemed a lot pricier than going to the Breeders' cup in LA. I'd highly recommend going in person; there's nothing like it.
FESTUS ELROY 11 months ago
This will be a quagmire and an important lesson learned.I attend this beautiful facility every year ,but it cannot deal with the crowds.Many will suffer bad experiences if they don't limit the capacity and SRO tickets.
D 11 months ago
You can't get out that place on a Thursday during the regular meet unless you leave right before the feature and now they will host a BC, lol... I live in Louisville and love Keeneland but no way would I fight that mess. There are only 3 and I mean 3 places that are equipped to properly handle a Breeders Cup. Churchill Downs, Belmont Park, and Santa Anita simple as that. I mean my god before they try Keeneland, why not go to Pimlico at least that place can handle the crowds and traffic since they do it every year in May. Its all about the money like everything in America.. Keeneland wanted it and even took out there own polytrack to get it. Get ready for nothing but wire to wire winners on the dirt and deep closers from other countries on the turf. But lets be totally honest does it really matter anymore? I mean BC messed up the entire situation when they went to a two day format, the Breeders Cup was the ABSOLUTE best day in racing when it was all on one day. Greed messed up the BC in the first place and now more greed will hurt the day by having Keeneland host an event they can't possibly handle. I wish them well but I have a feeling people in the stands and in the LONG LONG lines to bet, to eat and to use the bathrooms will be saying why didn't they do this thing at Churchill as the day gets long.
Dee R. Eff 11 months ago
You are 100% correct sir.
Ron Solberg 10 months ago
I do not care for the 2 day spread at all
Steven Elief 10 months ago
Excellent points made D. The Breeders' Cup meet was perfect with 8 races (even 7), but once again the suits will KILL the goose that laid the golden egg. Two days is one too many. The product is being diluted to death. Race day medications are playing an important part as well. What a pity.
1971 Whippet 11 months ago
Keeneland is quite full with 30,000 fans. Where are they gonna put the others (without ruining the setting)? Otherwise, they are the best in North America. Del Mar should follow soon after.