For an unprecedented three years in a row, the Breeders' Cup World Championships will be returning to Santa Anita Park in 2014, according to an announcement by Breeders' Cup officials June 10. The dates will be Oct. 31-Nov. 1, 2014.
The World Championships drew 89,742 to the Arcadia, Calif., track in 2012, with total wagering of $148 million, and the event is scheduled to be held at Santa Anita for the seventh time this Nov. 1-2.
"Santa Anita has proven to be an outstanding host for our championships, providing horsemen and fans around the world with a first-class facility and one of the greatest experiences in sports," Breeders' Cup president and chief executive officer Craig Fravel said in a release. "We are delighted to extend our partnership with Santa Anita for a third consecutive year.
"We also value our relationship with the Southern California business and entertainment community, which have demonstrated long-time dedication and support of the Breeders' Cup since our inception in 1984."
The 2014 Breeders' Cup World Championships will mark the 11th time the event will be held in Southern California. In the release, Breeders' Cup officials indicated no decisions have been made on host sites beyond 2014.
Churchill Downs was in the mix as a possible host site for 2014 and, according to Churchill vice president of communications John Asher, had "extensive discussions" with Breeders' Cup officials about it.
"We wish the Breeders' Cup World Championships and the team at Santa Anita the very best as they prepare for both this year's renewal and next year's third consecutive stop in Southern California," Asher said in a statement. "It's up to Breeders' Cup to explain the reasoning for the selection of its 2014 host site, but that decision should in no way be interpreted to be the result of any lack of willingness on the part of Churchill Downs to host the event, or as a negative reflection on the spectacular job that Metro Louisville and its hotels, restaurants, businesses and–most importantly–its racing fans have done in welcoming the Breeders' Cup during its eight record-shattering visits to our track.
"Churchill Downs had extensive discussions with the Breeders' Cup on the possibility of serving as its host track in 2014, and our parties had no financial disagreements. The Breeders' Cup and its board simply decided to go another way."
The decision also means a legislated tax incentive for a Kentucky track to host the World Championships will expire. A track has to host the event at least once every three years for Breeders' Cup to get the incentive; Churchill last hosted it in 2011.
California officials have said recently they expected the Cup to return in 2014, and they would also make a push for 2015.
"In addition to being the two greatest days in Thoroughbred racing, hosting the Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita for the next two years provides us with the opportunity to further develop the Breeders' Cup brand as a world-class entertainment and lifestyle platform," said Drew Sheinman, Breeders' Cup chief marketing officer. "We look forward to forging new sponsor and business relationships in the community."