All across North America, there is growing evidence that horse racing is in the doldrums. But not when it comes to the Breeders’ Cup this November at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.
Spectators are snapping up reserved-seat tickets for the two-day event at double the pace of the same time period for last year’s Breeders’ Cup. Organizers are celebrating “the strongest pre-event sales in Breeders’ Cup history,” according to Breeders’ Cup president Greg Avioli.
Heading into the Labor Day weekend, racing afficionados had already purchased $7.2-million in tickets, compared to $3.7-million last year when the event was held for the second consecutive year at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Ca.
Breeders’ Cup officials attribute the increase to the Breeders’ Cup coming to the Kentucky market for the first time in four years; the variety of seating options at the track, and the expectation that Zenyatta, the undefeated mare from California, will try to defend her title in the $5-million Breeders’ Cup Classic against males on Nov. 6.
Breeders’ Cup president Greg Avioli said Kentucky is traditionally one of the strongest markets for the Breeders’ Cup.
Churchill Downs last played host to the Breeders’ Cup in 2006, when it set three wagering records. Monmouth Park staged the Breeders’ Cup in 2007, while Santa Anita held it over the past two years.
This year’s Breeders’ Cup marks the seventh time it has come to Churchill Downs, a record. Churchill has also staged the races in 1988, 1991, 1994, 1998, and 2000.
Breeders’ Cup organizers are now scrambling to release for sale some premium Box Seats overlooking the finish line, as well as a limited number of indoor dining seats. These seats, they say, have traditionally been reserved for those who have always held licence to the seats at Churchill Downs. They had the option to buy Breeders’ Cup tickets on the seats, and 85 per cent of them chose to do so.
There still are some reserved grandstand seats available.