SBD/May 1, 2014/Events and Attractions

No Horsing Around: Keeneland Appears To Be In The Lead To Land '15 Breeders' Cup

Keeneland Race Course has never hosted a Breeders' Cup

Keeneland Race Course has a "better-than-good chance" of landing the '15 Breeders' Cup, according to sources cited by Tom LaMarra of BLOODHORSE. Keeneland President & CEO Bill Thomason yesterday said the track is in the "due diligence phase" of its bid. Thomason: "We're in the final stages of identifying the relationship between Keeneland and Breeders' Cup, as well as the patron experience. We're still working through the details to make this a reality." LaMarra noted the Breeders' Cup BOD will announce a site for the '15 event next month. Keeneland has "never hosted a Breeders' Cup, though the event would fit in with the company's mission." The track has "great appeal as a host site," but the existing facility "couldn't comfortably accommodate the typical Saturday Breeders' Cup crowd." However, Thomason suggested that "temporary facilities and seating could be ready by the fall of 2015" should the track land the event. Thomason: "If 100% of the concerns aren't answered, Keeneland is not going to do it. ... If we're going to do it, we want to do it right. We don't have a 170,000-person facility, and we're not going to build to that. We're not going to mess with what you see (at Keeneland). We will have to do it in a way to utilize our existing facility" (BLOODHORSE, 4/30). In Louisville, Tim Sullivan noted while Keeneland would "expect to add 10,000-15,000 temporary seats for a Breeders' Cup, the three best-attended Kentucky Derbies quadrupled Keeneland's record turnout of 40,617." Despite the low capacity at Keeneland, the "rumblings of a nearly done deal (and of a 2016 Breeders' Cup at Del Mar) have been rising in volume among industry insiders, particularly since Keeneland announced its decision to return to a dirt track earlier this month" (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 4/30).

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