Anne M. Eberhardt

Oak Tree Still Crunching 'Cup Numbers

Too early to tell if two-day event ran at a deficit this year, executive says.

It's too early to tell if the Oak Tree Racing Association will owe the Breeders' Cup payment as a result of falling short of revenue guarantees for operating the two-day racing extravaganza at Santa Anita Park, according to an executive for the 2008 host.

Responding to a Dec. 18 report by the Web site claiming that Oak Tree could have a revenue shortfall of as much as $3 million, Sherwood Chillingworth, executive vice president for the non-profit association, said that his group and the Breeders' Cup are still poring over the numbers. He said he did not expect to know the financial situation with any certainty until at least the middle of January.

"We don't know," Chillingworth said Dec. 19 while noting that he is still collecting money from simulcast sources and signing invoices following the Oct. 24-25 Breeders' Cup. "We feel it went very well. I don't even know if we do have one (a shortfall) yet. We have not closed the books on the Breeders' Cup and it would be premature for me to guess."

He would not say whether he felt the $3-million figure was an exaggeration.

"There's no point in throwing out a number that very well may not be accurate and then have to correct that," Chillingworth said., citing an unnamed source, said that Oak Tree's guarantee to the Breeders' Cup to host the event in 2008 was about $5 million. Chillingworth said that contractual details with the Breeders' Cup are confidential and he could not divulge the amount of the guarantee.

Made up of California horsemen who have leased Santa Anita for its annual autumn meet since 1969, Oak Tree has hosted the Breeders' Cup four times and is under contract to operate the event again in 2009. The last time Oak Tree had the Cup, in 2003, the association was paid $470,000 for hosting under a different contractual arrangement than now exists, Chillingworth said. 

The Breeders' Cup ran a record 14 races in 2008 worth $25.5 million. Live attendance totaled 82,588 for the two days. Handle from all sources topped $130 million.