Breeders’ Cup Host Sites Announced Through 2021

Breeders’ Cup officially announced Santa Anita Park, Keeneland, and Del Mar as the host sites for the next three editions of the World Championships.

In a press conference Aug. 17 at Santa Anita, it was announced the Arcadia, Calif., track would host the two-day event for a record-setting 10th time Nov. 1-2 in 2019. Keeneland, which hosted its first Breeders’ Cup in 2015, will welcome the 2020 edition Nov. 6-7. Del Mar—a first-time host in 2017—gets the event back Nov. 5-6 in 2021.

All three tracks planned press conferences Friday to announce Breeders’ Cup plans.

“Everybody knows how great Santa Anita is, so it’s never a question of ‘if,’ but ‘when’ for this place,” Breeders’ Cup president and CEO Craig Fravel said after the announcement Friday at Santa Anita. “Given the success of Del Mar and Keeneland, the same holds true for those.”

Churchill Downs is hosting the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Nov. 2-3, the ninth time the Louisville oval has put on the fall spectacle. With Friday’s announcement confirming a California-Kentucky rotation for the next three seasons, the two states will have combined to host 14 consecutive editions of the event.

“The Bluegrass served as the ideal backdrop for the 2015 Breeders’ Cup, and we could not be more excited to have Keeneland serve as the host of the 2020 edition of the World Championships,” said Keeneland president and CEO Bill Thomason. “Building on the success of the event for the industry and the community, we anticipate an even greater spectacle in 2020 and look forward to the Breeders’ Cup returning home once again.”

The last time the Breeders’ Cup was held at a track outside of Kentucky or California came in 2007, when Monmouth Park hosted the first year the event was expanded to a two-day format, and Fravel said Friday there is still interest from tracks outside of the two states.

“When I started in 2011, there was an option of two places, and there wasn’t anybody else in the mix to hold an event like this. One of the things we tried to do with Keeneland and Del Mar was to validate the different track model for holding the event, and that’s what happened,” Fravel said. “To me, we have greater and greater options going forward. We have inquiries from Laurel Park, who has made no secret of their interest, and our friends at Monmouth Park, now that they have sports wagering and some new dollars coming in … I think they’d like to be considered, and obviously we’ve talked about New York.

“I don’t think it’s going to be a static rotation. I hope to create an environment where people are wanting us to be there, asking us to be there, and doing what’s best for racing to encourage us to come.”

Tim Ritvo of The Stronach Group, which owns both Santa Anita and Laurel, said he would have liked for Laurel to be one of the three future sites but was hopeful for a 2022 bid for the Maryland track.

“We were hoping to get (Laurel) involved in this round, but we’re eager to make a strong bid for 2022,” Ritvo said. “We weren’t really ready yet, with the facility, but we had a great meeting yesterday about the build-out will look like, and the state is going to put together an advisory committee to give a really big push for 2022.”

Ritvo also said there will be $5 million in renovations at Santa Anita before the 2019 Breeders’ Cup, including new open-air suites in the grandstand and improvements to the upper levels of the clubhouse area. He said the upper-level grandstand suites would be like a “deck at your house, where you can sit and be casual.”

Regarding a potential Breeders’ Cup at a New York Racing Association track, Fravel said “capital improvements” would likely be required for a successful bid.

“I know they have a plan. It’s just the timing that’s unclear,” Fravel said. “I’m hopeful that within the next six months or so, we’ll have a clear picture of what their plan is. … There would have to be more concrete indications of what would happen and when. The experience, unfortunately, in New York is that best-laid plans get waylaid by factors outside of people’s control.”

Louisiana Native Talamo Among Finalists for George Woolf Award

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Five finalists for one of American racing’s most prestigious honors, the Santa Anita George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award, have been announced, with the winner to be revealed in February following a vote of jockeys nationwide.

Jockeys Alex Birzer, Javier Castellano, Jose Ferrer, Rodney Prescott and Joe Talamo are the finalists for the prestigious trophy that has been presented annually by Santa Anita since 1950.

One of the most coveted awards in all of racing, the Woolf Award, which can only be won once, is presented to a different jockey each year and it recognizes those riders whose careers and personal character earn esteem for the individual and the sport of Thoroughbred racing. The trophy is a replica of the life-sized statue of legendary jockey George Woolf, which adorns Santa Anita’s Paddock Gardens area.

Woolf, who died at the age of 35 following a spill on Santa Anita’s Club House turn on Jan. 3, 1946, was regarded as one of the top big-money riders of his era. Known affectionately as “The Iceman,” he was revered by his colleagues, members of the media and fans across America as a fierce competitor and consummate professional who was at his best when the stakes were high.

The 2018 Woolf ballot, which will be distributed to active jockeys across the country, features five highly regarded riders who have plied their trade with honor and distinction.

A native of Hutchinson, Kansas, Alex Birzer was born Oct. 2, 1973. A rock-solid fixture in the nation’s heartland, Birzer first came to prominence at the now-shuttered Woodlands outside Kansas City, Kansas, where he was a four-time leading rider. Also a four-time kingpin at Prairie Meadows, just outside Des Moines, Iowa, Birzer notched his 3,000th career win at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas on Feb. 26 of this year. He’s also had top-five performances at Oaklawn and at Remington Park in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

A superstar by any accounting, Javier Castellano has been America’s leading money-winning rider for the past four years and, dating back to 2013, he has won four consecutive Eclipse Awards as America’s Champion Jockey. The son of a jockey, Castellano was born Oct. 23, 1977 in Maracaibo, Venezuela. A winner of this year’s Preakness Stakes aboard Cloud Computing, Castellano burst upon the national stage by winning the 2004 Breeders’ Cup Classic aboard Ghostzapper at Lone Star Park. Inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame this past August, Castellano’s 2015 single season purse earnings of $28.1 million stands as a North American record. He currently has more than 4,800 career victories.

Born March 31, 1964 in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Jose Ferrer has been a mainstay on the eastern seaboard dating back to 1983, when he made his American debut at Calder Race Course in south Florida. With nearly 4,200 wins to his credit, Ferrer is a proponent of the power of positive thinking and views each day as a God-given opportunity to contribute to a sport that has provided him a magnificent career. Second in the standings this past summer at Monmouth Park, Ferrer is back in action at Tampa Bay Downs following serious injuries that resulted from a spill at Delaware Park in September.

Born March 8, 1974 in Portland, Indiana, Rodney Prescott began galloping horses upon graduation from high school. After a stint as a groom, he broke his maiden at age 20 at River Downs, in Cincinnati, Ohio. Fittingly, Prescott is Hoosier Park’s all-time leading rider and it was at Hoosier that he notched his 2,000 career win on Oct. 18, 2006. Win number 3,000 came at northern Kentucky’s Turfway Park on Dec. 27, 2012.

America’s Eclipse Award-winning Apprentice Jockey in 2007, Joe Talamo is a perennial Top 10 jockey on the tough Southern California circuit, which he joined in the spring of 2007. Born Jan. 12, 1990, in Marrero, Louisiana, near New Orleans, Talamo has established himself as one of the country’s top young riders and he goes out of his way to accommodate media and racing fans. With more than 1,800 career wins, that include a large number of graded stakes, Talamo figures to be a force to be reckoned with for many years to come.

For more information on the Santa Anita George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award, please visit the online media guide at www.http://www.santaanita.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/LATC17 MG web-final.pdf (page 9).