Breeders' Cup 2008 Headed to Oak Tree Meet at Santa Anita

Breeders' Cup 2008 Headed to Oak Tree Meet at Santa Anita
The Oak Tree Racing Association will host the 25th running of the Breeders' Cup World Championships at Santa Anita Park on Oct. 24-25, Breeders' Cup Limited announced April 19.

The two-day event will be televised live on ESPN.

Santa Anita will be the first Breeders' Cup site to hold the main track portion of the program on a synthetic surface. The Arcadia track is scheduled to install an all-weather surface, which replaces its dirt track, this summer. It is expected to be in use for the 2007 Oak Tree meeting, which begins in September.

During a teleconference for the Breeders' Cup announcement, Sherwood Chillingworth, Oak Tree's executive vice president, said he expected the synthetic track to be popular with European trainers, which could lead to more participation.

"With an artificial track, we expect to have more European horses. We are looking forward to extremely full fields," he said.

Santa Anita has not announced a vendor for its new track. Chillingworth said three companies have received the most consideration -- Pro-Ride, Polytrack and Cushion Track, the surface that is in place at Hollywood Park.

Greg Avioli, just named the president and CEO of the Breeders' Cup, said the board has not mandated the use of synthetic track for future events.  

 "There is no such mandate," he said, noting that regular Breeders' Cup hosts Churchill Downs and Belmont still race on a traditional dirt track. "That in no way would ruled them out for future consideration."

Chillingworth said Santa Anita would focus a larger portion of its marketing and advertising budget on the Friday card in hopes of building interest. "A two-day event will be challenge, but we are very sure we can make a great event out of it," he said.

In a press release, Bill Farish, chairman of Breeders' Cup Ltd, said, "We’re excited to reunite with the Oak Tree Racing Association in returning to California and Santa Anita Park for our 25th Breeders’ Cup World Championships. Santa Anita is one of the world’s great racing venues, an outstanding facility with a great tradition that will showcase top flight international racing for our fans.”

The Breeders Cup has previously been held at Santa Anita in 1986, 1993 and 2003.

“Breeders’ Cup and Oak Tree have made a great team, setting wagering records in each of the three years Oak Tree has hosted Breeders’ Cup Day,” said  Chillingworth, "We are again aiming at breaking the on-track wagering record in 2008.

This will be the seventh time the Breeders' Cup has been held in Southern California. Hollywood Park hosted the inaugural Breeders' Cup in 1984 and again in 1987 and 1997.

Earlier this year, the Breeders' Cup issued a Request For Proposal for 2008, 2009 and 2010 to top racing venues in the U.S. and abroad. Avioli indicated that the board would evaluate proposals for 2009 and 2010 at its next meeting in July.

He said confidentiality prevented him from disclosing the names of other tracks who submitted proposals.

The Breeders' Cup World Championships consists of 11 races with purses and awards totaling $23 million. After adding three additional $1 million Breeders’ Cup races to the 2007 event, Breeders’ Cup officials indicated that additional races may be added in future years. Avioli said he expected at least one more $1 million race to be added to the 2008 program.

Oak Tree Racing Association was formed in 1969 as a not-for-profit organization with all of its net profits going to charitable entities, predominantly those equine-related. Since its inception, Oak Tree has contributed more than $25 million for these purposes.

This year’s Breeders’ Cup World Championships will be held on Oct. 26-27 at Monmouth Park in Oceanport, N.J. This will be the first Breeders’ Cup to be conducted over two days. Friday’s program will debut three new $1 million Breeders’ Cup races. The Championships will conclude on Saturday with eight Breeders Cup races.

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