Breeders' Cup Expected To Return To Keeneland Race Course In '15
The Breeders' Cup is "returning to Kentucky after what will be a four-year absence," as the '15 event will "be at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington," according to Gregory Hall of the Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL. Sources said that next year's Breeders' Cup would "be at Keeneland, followed by a return to Santa Anita in Arcadia in 2016 and then Del Mar Thoroughbred Club in San Diego in 2017." It would be the "first time the fall thoroughbred championships would be held at Keeneland or Del Mar -- both of which are viewed as among the most picturesque racetracks in the country." The schedule means Santa Anita would "become the most frequent host of the two-day event; it already will tie Churchill Downs for that distinction this year at eight times." The schedule also would "ensure the longest absence of the Breeders' Cup at Churchill -- at least seven years -- despite the fact that the track has recorded the event's largest crowds and biggest betting totals." A Keeneland Breeders' Cup is "expected to involve temporary seating because the event typically has more than 50,000 people on its biggest day." Keeneland's record is 40,617. The track has "almost 8,800 permanent seats, including several hundred in dining areas that don't have track views." Temporary seating of "up to 15,000 for the Breeders' Cup would provide about 23,800 seats besides standing-room only general admission" (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 6/18). In Lexington, Wincze Hughes & Patton note Keeneland "routinely attracts crowds of 30,000 or more on its biggest days." However, "logistical obstacles would need to be conquered in order for the event to be deemed a success." In addition to "limited capacity, there is concern over Lexington not having the amount of high-end hotels and restaurants found in larger markets like Louisville and Santa Anita" (LEXINGTON HERALD-LADER, 6/18).
BIGGER ISN'T ALWAYS BETTER: DAILY RACING FORM's Matt Hegarty noted Keeneland this year decided 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 BOD members several years ago decided 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 '14 meet. The track also is "currently widening its turf course to accommodate 14 runners, considered a necessity for holding the Breeders’ Cup" (DRF.com, 6/17). In Lexington, John Clay writes picking Keeneland and Del Mar is "a bit of a departure for the Breeders' Cup, which with a few exceptions has relied on big city/big track venues" for the grand event. Yet choosing "smaller, more intimate tracks is a welcome change." Racing is "desperately trying to attract young people." Clay: "All you have to do is walk around Keeneland on a racing weekend to know the track has accomplished that" (LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER, 6/18).