SBD/Issue 33/Events & Attractions

Monmouth Readies To Host 24th Breeders' Cup World Championship

 
Rain is predicted for both days of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, which today begins its new two-day format at Monmouth Park, according to Tom Luicci of the Newark STAR-LEDGER.  There have been three injury or illness-related scratches for the 11-race event so far, “but the ongoing rain could result in more defections.” Trainer Todd Pletcher: “I think a soft turf is going to compromise most of my horses.” Luicci notes Monmouth Park “has a no-umbrella policy,” meaning fans may have to watch the races in the rain (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 10/26).  In New Jersey, John Rowe wrote if Monmouth "reaches its estimates" of 25,000-30,000 fans Friday and a sellout of 45,000 Saturday, "Breeders Cup Ltd. will be satisfied." Monmouth is the smallest track to hold the event, and the "odds are this is Monmouth's only chance to host the world championships," as Breeders’ Cup President & CEO Greg Avioli "admits the Cup probably will go back to bigger tracks in the future" (Bergen RECORD, 10/25). In Newark, Matthew Futterman noted the NJSEA spent $30M renovating Monmouth, including “sprucing up the clubhouse, installing additional grandstands, a new turf track and 28,000 temporary seats.” The Breeders’ Cup took 10,000 tickets for various commitments, leaving 35,000 for the public. Avioli said that he “would be disappointed if the first-day crowd doesn’t reach 25,000” (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 10/21).  BLOODHORSE's Tom LaMarra noted HOK Sport has installed “spacious, sturdy and upscale” temporary facilities for the two days. Also, while fans have complained in recent years about being shutout at betting windows, there will be 800 pari-mutuel clerks on hand, up from the norm of 600, and 600-700 “self-service betting machines.”  Breeders' Cup consultant Damon Thayer said, “This year’s event is going to surprise people. Monmouth Park has some built-in advantages" (BLOODHORSE.com, 10/24).

FRIDAY AFTERNOON LIGHTS: In N.Y., Sherry Ross wrote the event's three new races being held Friday will "help create the feeling of a racing ‘festival’ as opposed to a one-day event” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/25). The ’08 Breeders’ Cup will be held at Santa Anita Park, and Avioli said the two-day format of the event will again be utilized, and that a Turf Sprint race “is expected to be added.” Avioli: “It’s not an experiment. These races are here to stay, and the only thing you’re going to see is more races added to Friday to go with them in the future.” He added, “We really feel that having a two-day event really gives us an opportunity to expand our marketing and our television (exposure) efforts" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 10/22).

Study Estimates Breeders' Cup
Economic Impact Between $55-60M
ECONOMIC IMPACT ON REGION: A Rutgers Univ. study found that the event “would have a [$55-60M] economic impact on the area.” Monmouth VP & GM Bob Kulina said that the Breeders’ Cup is “expected to generate [$120-130M] of wagering." State officials “will be thrilled if Monmouth can duplicate the numbers from last year’s Breeders’ Cup at Churchill Downs when the one-day, eight-race event ... had a total handle of more than $134[M]” (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 10/21). NJSEA Senior Exec VP/Racing Dennis Dowd said, "We knew the numbers would be big, but I don't think anyone thought they would be that big" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 10/26).

OVERSEAS EVENT NOT LIKELY: The DAILY NEWS’ Ross wrote an overseas Breeders’ Cup "is not likely to occur in the near future,” as the time change “would cost millions in lost revenue from American bettors.” However, Avioli said that expanding the Breeders’ Cup Challenge series “from Hong Kong to England, France, Ireland, Australia and/or Dubai is likely to happen next year” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/25).

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