11/04/2010 12:37PM

Zenyatta provides attendance bump for Breeders' Cup


David Sweazy has worked behind the scenes at Churchill since 1968 and has been the vice president of operations since 1991, so he has a pretty good feel for what to expect on big days. Sweazy said the presence of Zenyatta is helping “considerably” to boost the prospective attendance for Saturday, when cold weather might otherwise limit the crowd.

“We’re geared up for 60,000 and up,” Sweazy said. “If not for Zenyatta, I’m sure we wouldn’t have that many.”

Sweazy said his projection for the Friday crowd was between 30,000 and 35,000.

Last year at Santa Anita, the respective crowds Friday and Saturday were 37,651 and 58,845. The all-time, one-day record in Breeders’ Cup history was 80,452 at Churchill in 1998. The attendance in 2006, the last year the event was held at Churchill and the last time the Breeders’ Cup was a one-day event, was 75,132.

The infield was open to the public the first year Churchill held the Breeders’ Cup in 1988, but except for two subsequent years when seating in a limited number of portable suites was sold, the infield has been closed.

“There’s just no demand for it,” Sweazy said.

◗ The $2 pick six on Saturday (races 6-11) carries a guaranteed pool of $2 million. Also, there are guarantees of $1 million on the early pick four (races 4-7) and $1.5 million on the late pick four (races 8-11).

For both the pick six and the $1 super high five on the BC Classic, there is a mandatory payout Saturday, even in the case of no perfect tickets.

Superfectas are available on all races and in 10-cent increments, while trifectas, pick threes, and pick fours are available in 50-cent increments.

◗ Horsemen, journalists, and others in attendance Wednesday night at the National Turf Writers’ Association 51st Annual Awards Dinner were treated to moving and heartfelt speeches by the honorees. They were retired jockey Richard Migliore, winner of the Mr. Fitz Award for typifying the spirit of racing; Michael Blowen of Old Friends Equine, winner of the Joe Palmer Award for meritorious service to racing; and Neil Milbert of the Chicago Tribune, winner of the Walter Haight Award for excellence in turf writing.