Get ready for a likely announcement next week that Breeders’ Cup is coming back to Santa Anita Park.
Invitations to a gala event scheduled for Aug. 10 in downtown Los Angeles are being sent out this week. They read: “Please join the Breeders’ Cup and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa for a luncheon and special announcement.” The obvious conclusion is that the 2012 Breeders’ Cup is headed for Santa Anita, even though mum is the word for now. Jim Gluckson, a spokesman for the Breeders’ Cup, declined comment. The Arcadia racetrack served as the host of horse racing’s world championships in 2008 and 2009. In all, the Breeders’ Cup has been at Santa Anita five times. This year’s Breeders’ Cup will be held Nov. 4-5 at Churchill Downs, the site of the Kentucky Derby. The 2010 Breeders’ Cup was also held at historic track in Louisville. However, Santa Anita has been the expected site for the 2012 event for several months, even though Churchill Downs and New York’s Belmont Park were also getting consideration. Counting this year, Churchill Downs has been the host eight times. Belmont Park, which has been the host four times, most recently in 2005.
According to earlier reports, Santa Anita was the only racetrack to offer a substantial guaranteed revenue stream. There were concerns about Santa Anita’s main dirt track, but it just went through another renovation and on July 26 re-opened to positive reviews. It was the fourth time in five years the track has either been replaced or renovated. A synthetic surfaced was installed in 2007 and had to be re-done. Santa Anita went back to a dirt surface last year but safety concerns led to the recent renovation. The previous Breeders’ Cup World Championships held at Santa Anita all took place during the fall meet put on by the Oak Tree Racing Association. But Oak Tree was forced out last year and held its fall meet at Hollywood Park. Santa Anita recently announced that it plans to hold its own fall meet, running from Sept. 30 to Nov. 6. It appears now that, if all goes according to plan, the Breeders’ Cup will be held during next year’s fall meet. The dates will probably be announced at the gala event Aug. 10.
— By Larry Stewart