J.D. Sweeney, 49, of San Diego, submitted the winning bid this week of $11,200 for a trip the Breeders’ Cup World Championships and a visit with retired Breeders’ Cup champion Zenyatta this November.
Sweeney’s winning bid was in support of the “Don’t Give Up ESPY’S V Foundation Auction” on ESPN Radio and on ESPN2’s “Mike and Mike in the Morning” program. The V Foundation for Cancer Research is the primary non-profit beneficiary of the 2011 Breeders’ Cup World Championships.
Sweeney will be receiving a three-night stay and two tickets in the Trophy Lounge at the Breeders’ Cup World Championships on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 4-5 at Churchill Downs in Louisville. He will also be attending the major entertainment events at the Championships, and will also be taken on a “meet and greet” with 2010 Horse of the Year Zenyatta at Lane’s End Farm near Versailles.
Sweeney, who said he began attending Santa Anita Park’s opening day when he was five years old, has been following the horses regularly since he was 12. He attended the first Breeders’ Cup in 1984 and has been to every Breeders’ Cup held in California and saw most of Zenyatta’s races during her career.
While recovering from injuries sustained in a car accident about 10 years ago, Sweeney said used words of the late Jim Valvano to inspire him during the healing process.
“This is a dream of a lifetime,” said Sweeney. “I only did this because it was the Breeders’ Cup and Jim Valvano. Jim Valvano was one of my heroes growing up. I taped his “Don’t Give Up” speech in 1993 and I must have listened to that tape thousands of times. It‘s a great inspiration.”
The V Foundation has been the primary non-profit beneficiary of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships since 2009. During the past two years, the Breeders’ Cup has raised more than $350,000 through donations to The V Foundation, an organization founded by ESPN and the late Jim Valvano in 1993.
A limited edition glassware set featuring Zenyatta’s record achievements over the past years is also being sold to support the The V Foundation. Each set, which contains three glasses, may be purchased through www.breederscup.com/charities.