When Breeders' Cup in 2001 inked a deal with NBC Sports for coverage of the World Thoroughbred Championships through 2005, it was decided the event would be held the last Saturday of October during that period, with perhaps a switch to November in the final year of the contract.
Breeders' Cup has found out Oct. 29, 2005, works for NBC. Now, it must deal with a possible shortage of hotel rooms in Louisville, Ky., that weekend. The four-day Future Farmers of America convention is scheduled at that time, and attendees occupy a lot of the rooms in the area.
"We've found out the October date is available for the Breeders' Cup (at Churchill Downs)," Breeders' Cup president D.G. Van Clief Jr. said. "The problem for us is it involves a lot of hotel rooms. Logistically, this could create problems, if not nightmares. We're going to have to take a look at this and see what it means."
According to the Greater Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau, there are about 17,000 "reasonably-priced" hotel rooms in the Louisville metro area, which includes southern Indiana. The five Breeders' Cups held at Churchill Downs have been among the most successful, with an average attendance of 73,121.
Nov. 5, 2005, the first Saturday of the month, is out because NBC Sports has a commitment to televise a Notre Dame football game. The other option is Nov. 12, which Van Clief said is clearly a second choice to Oct. 29.
"Our preference is to keep the date as consistent as we can from year to year," Van Clief said.
Should the Oct. 29 date be selected, the Kentucky racing calendar would have to be altered. Keeneland traditionally wraps up its meet on the final Saturday of October, but in the past has expressed a willingness to accommodate a schedule change.
Churchill was tabbed as the host site for 2005 as part of a new long-range planning strategy for Breeders' Cup. Van Clief said the two parties "could go as long as the spring of 2004 in finalizing a contract, but we'd rather not. We'd like to get 2005 done, and begin thinking about 2006."
This year's World Thoroughbred Championships will be held Oct. 26 at Arlington Park. Santa Anita Park in California has been tabbed for 2003, and Lone Star Park for 2004.