Breeder's Cup - A gathering of the world's best thoroughbreds
The primary goal of Breeders' Cup Limited is to build positive
public awareness of Thoroughbred racing and to expand
opportunities for enhancement of the Thoroughbred industry. These
objectives are first accomplished through the Breeders' Cup World
Thoroughbred Championships, a year-end international showcase of
the sport's greatest stars. Additionally, the Breeders' Cup
supports these goals through the funding of a year-round series
of stakes races, consumer marketing programs and nationally
The Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships culminates the
racing season and crowns the fleetest sprinters, the most
promising two-year-olds, the best turf horses. The right to be
called the best of the best belongs, many would argue, to the
winner of the day's final and richest race: the $4 million
Breeders' Cup Classic. The Breeders' Cup is non-stop action from
the moment the horses step onto the track for the first race, the
Distaff, until the garland is draped across the shoulders of the
Classic winner at dusk. Heart-stopping finishes, stunning upsets,
international glamour, old-fashioned fun - Breeders' Cup has it
Racing's richest event is truly a movable feast. Each fall, a
different North American track plays host to the Breeders' Cup in
a unique and special way. One year finds it at Churchill Downs
with its rich trove of history, another at stately Belmont Park,
the next at panoramic Santa Anita in the foothills of the San
Gabriel Mountains. Major tracks compete aggressively for the
right to stage the championship program and each year's selection
is eagerly awaited. At the same time, the revolving nature of the
Breeders' Cup ensures that it belongs to all of racing.
That's just what its founders envisioned when the concept of the
Breeders' Cup took root in 1982. Racing's leaders wanted a
vehicle to promote the sport, a showcase for its finest elements,
and a grand finale to the racing season. The Championship races
became the cornerstone of a year-round program which has
allocated more than $380 million to owners and breeders since the
inaugural 1984 event. The first Breeders' Cup, at glitzy
Hollywood Park, was an instant hit. Since then, the Breeders' Cup
has redefined the racing calendar - becoming the season-ending
goal for the best horses - and given the sport a championship
event much like the World Series or the Super Bowl. Most
divisional champions crowned since 1984 have participated in a
Breeders' Cup race. In addition to the Classic, the other races
are the Juvenile and the Juvenile Fillies, the Distaff and the
Filly & Mare Turf for females ages three and up; the Sprint, the
Mile, and the Turf. The latter three are open to horses of both
genders, as is the Classic.
The Breeders' Cup has provided racing with some of its finest
moments. Images like these are indelibly etched in its rich
chronicles: the great Cigar ending his perfect 1995 season with a
thrilling victory in the Breeders' Cup Classic; Personal Ensign
courageously inching past Kentucky Derby winner Winning Colors to
retire undefeated in 1988; Arazi swooping in from France and
stunning all who saw him in the 1991 Breeders' Cup Juvenile.
"Championship day is unquestionably racing's finest hour," says
John R. Gaines, founding father of the Breeders' Cup and former
owner of Gainesway Farm near Lexington, Kentucky. "It defines our
reason for being and elevates the spirit of an entire industry."
Each year is special. Each year is better. One of the event's
most exciting elements is the intense rivalry between North
American and European contenders. In almost every race, national
pride is on the line. Owners and trainers from England, Ireland,
France, Japan, and Germany now circle the Breeders' Cup on their
calendars and plan their horses' schedules accordingly.
Dozens of European horses board cargo planes each fall and cross
the Atlantic in search of the Breeders' Cup's rich spoils. Their
success in many of these races has ensured that foreign horses
keep coming back. Who can forget the gallant French filly Miesque
winning back-to-back editions of the Breeders' Cup Mile? Or an
obscure French-based runner named Arcangues pulling the biggest
upset in Breeders' Cup history, winning the 1993 Classic and
paying $269.20 to win?
Horses have journeyed from as far away as Japan to compete in the
Breeders' Cup. It truly has become the foremost international
racing event. "The program was looked at as a revolutionary step
when it started, but now it is considered part of the fabric of
American racing," says Breeders' Cup president D. G. Van Clief,
The Breeders' Cup continues to grow in popularity because of its
prestige and keen level of competition. Churchill Downs in
Louisville, Kentucky, holds the records for both attendance and
total wagering. The renowned racecourse attracted 80,452
spectators in 1998 and when Breeders' Cup came back to Louisville
in 2000, over $108 million was wagered.
But the Breeders' Cup is known beyond the borders of the
particular host track. NBC has televised the event since its
inception, providing a degree of air time unprecedented in
Thoroughbred racing. The network's coverage has won Eclipse
Awards for National Television Achievement and the Outstanding
Live Sports Special of 1992 at the 14th Emmy Awards for Sports
The buildup to the Breeders' Cup begins well in advance of the
Championship day. NTRA's "Racing to the Breeders' Cup" on ESPN
gets the momentum started in early summer and continues through
mid-October. The nationally televised series consists of dozens
of stakes races at major tracks across the country and serves as
racing's version of the playoffs. In addition to television,
simulating - the transmission by satellite of actual races -
has helped further the recognition of the Breeders' Cup. At the
same time, the quality of the races on Championship day has made
simulcast outlets eager to carry the program. The number of
outlets showing the telecast is growing by leaps and bounds. In
1984, the seven races were beamed to 19 North American outlets,
where patrons wagered $8 million. Today, over 1000 outlets handle
in excess of $108 million. Expanding its recognition, the actual
race signal is transmitted by satellite to simulcast outlets in
over 25 countries, throughout the Western Hemisphere, Europe and
Australia. The continued expansion of the Breeders' Cup simulcast
across the world is a primary goal of the Breeders' Cup.
Major corporate sponsors also have helped boost recognition of
the Breeders' Cup. Sponsors have included Buick, Alberto-Culver,
Budweiser, Delta Air Lines, Emirates Airline, Mobil, National Car
Rental, Visa and Sears.
While sponsors have brought added name recognition to the
Breeders' Cup, Thoroughbred owners and breeders have been its
backbone since the beginning. They not only supply the horses
which compete in Breeders' Cup events, they pay the nominations
from which the organization derives its major source of funding.
Stallion owners annually pay a nomination fee that is the
equivalent of a stallion's advertised stud fee, or a minimum of
$1,000. Breeders pay a nomination fee of $500 for each foal.
Nominated horses are eligible to compete for millions in both the
Breeders' Cup Stakes program and the Breeders' Cup World
Thoroughbred Championships events.
As an international program, the Breeders' Cup has instituted a
nomination process to breeders around the world. Annual
nominations from all over the world have made the Breeders' Cup a
In a short time, the Breeders' Cup has been firmly established as
Thoroughbred racing's most prestigious event. Nothing can rival
its millions in prize money or its international cast of talent.
No other day of racing can match the Breeders' Cup World
Thoroughbred Championships for non-stop excitement.
The Breeders' Cup has accomplished what its founders set out to
do - and more. It remains the definitive test of champions and
has become racing's most recognizable and successful showpiece.
It only promises to improve in the years to come.
Matthew Bass on behalf of Doug Dearen owner of
a premiere thoroughbred racing package company.
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