SBD/March 28, 2014/Events and Attractions

Keeneland Planning Bid For Breeders' Cup; Will Polytrack Surface Be An Issue?

Keeneland wants to host the two-day fall championships as soon as next year
Keeneland Race Course is "in the running to host the Breeders' Cup World Championships," according to Janet Patton of the LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER. Keeneland President & CEO Bill Thomason on Thursday confirmed that the track "has asked to be considered for the two-day fall championships as soon as next year." He said, "We're going to do it in a scale and a scope that would provide the patron experience that Breeders' Cup people expect for a world championship event to come to Lexington. And if we can do it in a way that will provide that experience with our existing facility and some temporary facilities that would have to be built, and if we can do it in a way that would enhance our sale -- the November Breeding Stock sale, the biggest breeding stock sale in the world that happens right after the Breeders' Cup's completed -- then we'll be interested in hosting." Patton notes a decision for the '15 event "is expected within a few months." The Breeders' Cup since '08 has rotated between Santa Anita Park in California and Churchill Downs in Louisville, with the '14 races "scheduled to return to Santa Anita for the third year in a row." Thomason said, "It should be in Kentucky; our breeding industry wants it. It would be a homecoming." Keeneland VP & COO Vince Gabbert said that the Lexington track had "hosted as many as 40,000 patrons on its largest days and could accommodate an extra 25,000 or so with temporary facilities" (LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER, 3/28). BLOODHORSE.com's Claire Novak noted Thomason declined to comment on "whether a deal to host the Breeders' Cup would mean the removal of Keeneland's Polytrack surface." The Breeders' Cup in '08 and '09 "was run on a synthetic track at Santa Anita, but woes with the artificial material led to its removal" in '10. Keeneland would "need permission from the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission to likely extend racing dates into the traditional late October or early November period during which the Breeders' Cup is held" (BLOODHORSE.com, 3/27).
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