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November 6th, 2009 by John Stephens
This Weekend’s Breeders’ Cup Offers Incredible Chance to See World’s Best Thoroughbreds in Action.
It has been a tough couple of years in many ways for the profession and business of horseracing, and with its own share of problems to contend with, Arcadia’s Santa Anita Racetrack is certainly no exception. Earlier this year, a possible sale of the track followed a bankruptcy filing by Santa Anita’s parent company Magna Entertainment. And online wagering options have driven down attendance numbers at tracks across the country. Add to this a host of complaints about the artificial ProRide track allegedly causing injuries to racehorses, and an image of but a few of the hurdles facing Santa Anita begins to come into focus.
But as with any other business, a dedicated team of track officials have been working day and night to address these and other problems, and this weekend’s Breeders’ Cup is a chance for Santa Anita to strut their stuff before the eyes of the racing world at large.
In a recent interview with Santa Anita’s Ron Charles, the track President was optimistic that this year’s Breeders’ Cup will regenerate the public’s interest in thoroughbred horses and ignite a flood of horseracing fans turning out in person for two high-profile days of live racing.
Ticket prices have been cut to levels lower than those seen in previous years, making this year’s installment of the two-day world class event more affordable than ever for horseracing fans, gamblers and curious spectators alike; and as always, a 50 to 1pick to win will more than pay for a day at the track for even the most ravenous hotdog and beverage consumers out there.
First announced in April of 1982 by leading thoroughbred owner and breeder John R. Gaines, the Breeders’ Cup has served as a positive step toward not only promoting racing, but uniting the industry itself. Since then, Breeders’ Cup Limited has enjoyed immediate and widespread support from the industry through annual nomination payments for stallions and one-time nomination payments for those stallions’ offspring.
These days, the Cup is firmly entrenched in American racing lore with a history and tradition all its own while also serving as a deciding factor in Eclipse Award voting. The Eclipse Awards, which honor Horse of the Year and other champions in the sport, are voted on annually by representatives of Daily Racing Form, the National Turf Writers Association and the National Thoroughbred Racing Association. In 2006, every Eclipse Award participated in the Breeders’ Cup, something not ever before achieved.
With each Breeders’ Cup race worth between half a million and $5 million, the day has been a magnet for the most outstanding equine competitors from all around the world. American champions such as Azeri, A.P. Indy, Alysheba, Cigar, Personal Ensign, Ferdinand, Sunday Silence, and countless others have demonstrated greatness at past Breeders’ Cup meets.
European-based horses have also come and conquered on American soil. In 1984, Alain de Royer-Dupre saddled the Aga Khan’s Lashkari to win the first Breeders’ Cup Turf. The late Francois Boutin brought over the great mare Miesque in 1987; she was the heroine of the Mile that year and she returned the next year to win again, making her the first multiple Breeders’ Cup race winner. France-based trainer Andre Fabre has had a talented contingent over the years with four winners from 39 starters but Arcangues will be remembered as his standout performer. In 1993, Arcangues stunned the world with his win in the Classic, paying $269.20, which still stands as the highest payoff in Breeders’ Cup history. More recently, Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien has brought his top runners from Ireland and England and Raven’s Pass took the Breeders’ Cup Classic in last year’s meet, also held at Arcadia’s Santa Anita Park. Typically, the Breeders’ Cup World Championships is held each year at a different racetrack in North America on a rotating basis. In 2009, the Breeders’ Cup World Championships returns for a second-straight year to California – the place where it all began way back in 1984. For the fourth time since then, Santa Anita will host the Oak Tree meeting at the two-day event (November 6th and 7th) with 14 total races worth a total purse of $25.5 million.
Attending the Breeders’ Cup World Championships has always been special for both the real horse racing enthusiast and the more casual racing fan. Each year, the Breeders’ Cup tries to enhance the horse racing fan’s experience by providing more opportunities for fans to become deeply involved in the event. This year, Breeders’ Cup and the Oak Tree Racing Association are offering a "virtual jockey experience" featuring real prizes for top virtual contenders. This state-of-the-art horse racing software promises fans the opportunity to ride their favorite 2009 Breeders’ Cup contender in full 3-D on 41-inch plasma screens. Over 100 of each contender’s traits and attributes are replicated to provide the most realistic simulation of this premier event possible. Trophies will be awarded on both Friday and Saturday for the fans winning with the fastest race times. The Breeders’ Cup Virtual Jockey Challenge will take place in the breezeway south of the Kingsbury Fountain on the grandstand side between the paddock and racetrack.
“Giving the fans the opportunity to interact with top champions in a way never done before at any horse racing venue, let alone the prestigious Breeders’ Cup Championships, is definitely exciting, “ said Mike Calderone, CEO of Horse Racing Simulation. “The more engaged the fans are in every aspect, the better it is for the sport of horse racing in general, and we’re excited that Breeders’ Cup Ltd feels the same way.”
“Providing the best two days in racing is what the Championships are all about, and anything we can do to further enhance a fan’s experience at the track is important to us. We expect the fans to really enjoy this fun, entertaining addition to our event. We look at it as entertaining and educational, as well,” said Peter Rotondo, Breeders’ Cup Vice President of Media and Entertainment.
Horse Racing Simulation LLC has been providing virtual horse racing programs for over ten years and owns and operates the world’s most widely distributed horse racing game and largest virtual online racing community. Horse Racing Simulation LLC also develops custom, branded horse racing games, including since 2007, the Breeders’ Cup horse racing game, which can be found here.
At last year’s Breeders’ Cup, more than $100 million in winning wagers were returned to fans at the track and at various betting locations around the globe.
Can’t get enough? More information is available on the Breeders’ Cup Web site, www.breederscup.com, and fans can now follow the Breeders’ Cup tweetage at twitter.com/breederscup. For those not able to attend, cable sports network ESPN will televise the Breeders’ Cup World Championships live for the fourth straight year. And of course, more coverage of the event can be found online at www.arcadiaweekly.com.