Breeders’ Cup officials touted this year’s pre-entries for the Nov. 5-6 World Championships at Churchill Downs the deepest in the history of the event.
“We’re very excited about the pre-entries,” Breeders’ Cup president and chief executive officer Greg Avioli said Oct. 27. “I think we’re in for some record-setting days across the board.”
The Cup returns to Churchill in Kentucky for an unprecedented seventh time but for the first time as a two-day event. The four highest attendances in Breeders’ Cup history were recorded by Churchill.
Churchill president Kevin Flanery said the region “has embraced the Breeders’ Cup like no other place in the country. We’re ready to go from a facility standpoint.”
The number of European horses set for this year’s World Championships is down from last year, but that was expected. The 2009 (and 2008) events were held at Santa Anita Park, which at the time had a synthetic surface popular with some European horsemen.
Still, Alastair Donald, director of the International Racing Bureau, said the response has been good.
“I think the level of European participation is extremely encouraging,” Donald said. “Racing on a traditional dirt surface at Churchill Downs impacted slightly on the numbers, but we’re massively represented in the turf races and with juveniles on the dirt as well.”
In 2009 total pari-mutuel handle topped the $150-million mark for the first time in the history of Breeders’ Cup, which began in 1984. International handle last year exceeded $23 million and is expected to grow this year.
Hong Kong will import six Breeders’ Cup races this year, the most ever for the country. Delegates from about 10 overseas countries will attend the World Championships this year, officials said.