Following the 129 grade I races run during the first 18 years of the Breeders' Cup, 75 times the horse led into the winner's circle was bred in Kentucky. That 58% strike rate leads all states or countries in that category.
There were 64 Kentucky-breds pre-entered this year, fully 62% of those who would like to run Oct. 26 at Arlington Park. What's more, in the four races with a heavy favorite at pre-entry time -- Azeri in the Distaff, Storm Flag Flying in the Juvenile Fillies, Rock of Gibralter if he goes in the Mile, and Orientate in the Sprint -- all four favorites were bred in Kentucky.
Following Kentucky's 75 wins, only one other breeding location has been the birthplace of a double-digit number of races -- Florida, with 18. Next comes Ireland with nine and England with seven. The remaining locations of past Breeders' Cup winner are: Maryland, Pennsylvania, Argentina, Canada, and France, three each; California, two; and Illinois, New Jersey, and Oklahoma, one apiece.
Not surprisingly, nearly all the English- and Irish-bred winners were in Breeders' Cup grass races, though Classic winner Black Tie Affair was bred in Ireland and England had a Sprint winner, Sheikh Albadou.
"If you look at the number of winners, it shakes out pretty much in proportion to the size of the foal crops," Dick Hancock, executive director of the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association, said. "We're very proud of what the Florida Thoroughbreds have accomplished in the short time we've been in existence.
"We're really proud of the Classic and Turf winners because we're known mostly for 2-year-olds and speed," he added.
Hancock was speaking of Florida's two Classic winners, Unbridled (1990) and Skip Away (1997, as well as Turf winner Prized (1989) and Mile winner Cozzene (1985).
Chuckling, Hancock noted this year's Florida nine pre-entrants are all 2-year-olds and sprinters.
Even with 18 Florida-bred Breeders' Cup race winners, "What's been disappointing," Hancock said, "is that we don't have more (Florida-bred) foals nominated.
"We've worked very hard at convincing people to nominate, but we've got an awful lot of horses that the market is $15,000 to $25,000. If you have 10 of those, then $500 a piece to nominate to the Breeders' Cup is a lot of money."
Three states that have never been represented by a Breeders' Cup winner (Texas, Ohio, and New York) are hoping this will be their year. Texas will be represented by Most Feared in the Juvenile, New York has Carson Hollow in the Sprint, and Ohio's representative is Harlan's Holiday in the Classic. Also, a foreign country that has never had a winner, Germany, has an entrant this year in Kazzia in the Filly & Mare Turf.
"It would be a huge shot in the arm for us," Dave Hooper, executive director of the Texas Thoroughbred Associaton, said. "Anything that happens positive that reflects back on your state and calls attention to it is a huge plus. For Texas, an emerging state, a Breeders' Cup winner would be huge"
Besides Breeders' Cup pre-entrants this year bred in Kentucky, Florida, Ireland, England, Germany, Texas, New York, and Ohio, there also are pre-entrants bred in California, Illinois, Pennsylvania, France, and Canada.