Eight celebrity racing fans and owners are being honored as Breeders' Cup ambassadors in the inaugural year of a program launched by the organization.
The honor comes with rewards that allow the "ambassadors" to enjoy horse racing all over the world, including concierge service, tickets, and more. Additionally, they will serve as spokespersons for the 2012 Breeders' Cup World Championships and help promote this prestigious international event.
The participants are: renowned chef Bobby Flay (a Breeders' Cup board member), iconic actress Bo Derek (California Horse Racing Board commissioner), actress Elizabeth Banks, singer/songwriter Toby Keith, sports radio talk show host Jim Rome, former Major League Baseball manager and player Joe Torre, actress and singer Laura Bell Bundy, University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino, professional skateboarder and actor Rob Dyrdek, and New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker.
"We are so excited to have such talented and diverse participants for our inaugural ambassadors program. Many of our ambassadors have grown up around horses, and even own Thoroughbred horses that have run in past Breeders' Cup races," said Breeders' Cup president Craig Fravel. "They have proven that they love horse racing, love the Breeders' Cup, and are happy to share their enthusiasm about this event, and racing in general, with others around the world."
The list includes a part-owner of the pre-race favorite in Breeders' Cup weekend's marquee event, Joe Torre, who is part-owner of Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) entrant Game On Dude. Jim Rome and Rick Pitino also own entrants in this year's Breeders' Cup. The list also includes someone who has tasted Breeders' Cup success first-hand, Bobby Flay.
"Two years ago, I had the thrill of a lifetime when I won a Breeders' Cup race with my filly (More Than Real), and have relived that moment in my mind hundreds of times," Flay said. "The Breeders' Cup is the pinnacle of Thoroughbred horse racing competitions, and it's an honor to serve with all of these fantastic Ambassadors in sharing our passion and long history with the sport."
Others are lifelong fans, such as Banks and Derek.
"Breeders' Cup weekend is marked on my calendar ever year. I grew up going to the races with my dad, and my love of the sport has only grown. The racing, the fashion, the beautiful tracks, and the parties...the Breeders' Cup has it all," said Banks.
"The fastest horses in the world will be coming to Santa Anita to compete at the Breeders' Cup in November," said Derek, a longtime equine advocate turned racing commissioner. "It's the richest, most exciting sporting event each year, as proven by the amazing support from my fellow Ambassadors."