The Breeders’ Cup begins tomorrow afternoon and many of you still don’t know what the hell it is. So let’s fix that.
Below you’ll find ten important pieces of information about the Breeders’ Cup, from its history to its 32nd annual running at Keeneland.
If you’re still clueless after this, don’t worry about. Just keep your eyes on that Tennessee game on Saturday.
1.) It’s the richest two days in horse racing.
$26 million will be paid out in purses and awards over two days of racing, making it the richest event in the sport. That money will go to the horse owners and nominators, not the horses themselves. Horses can’t receive money because they are horses, which makes sense.
The winning owner in each race will receive 55 percent of the total purse; so for example, whoever wins the Breeders’ Cup Classic will take home $2.75 million of the $5 million gross purse. Again, that will be awarded to the owner of the winning horse, not the winning horse itself.
Owners share the winnings with the jockeys and trainers on their own terms.
2.) Lexington is hosting for the very first time.
Unless you’re somewhere far away from Kentucky, you probably know by now that Lexington is the Breeders’ Cup’s host city this year, marking the first time it has come to town in its 32 years of existence.
The races will be held at Keeneland Racecourse, but not the Keeneland you know and love and have blurry memories of from years past.
No, this weekend’s Keeneland has a new look and will accommodate 10,000 additional fans in temporary structures, which include two Trackside Chalets, two Club Lawn Chalets, the Maker’s Mark Bourbon Lounge, Saddling Paddock Chalet, Breakfast Marquee and Grandstand Loge Boxes. Several other renovations and upgrades were made as well.
3.) Breeders’ Cup attendance ranks fourth in North America.
Its attendance trails only the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Kentucky Oaks — and in some years, the Belmont Stakes.
This year, Keeneland expects to host between 42,000 and 45,000 people each day.
That is a lot of rich people in one place.
4.) It was created as a year-end championship for North American Thoroughbred racing.
The late John R. Gaines of Gainesway Farms in Lexington is credited with the creation of the Breeders’ Cup. He proposed the idea of a year-end championship during the 1982 awards luncheon at the Kentucky Derby Festival, with hopes of cleaning up the sport’s image.
The first Breeders’ Cup event was held two years later in Hollywood Park in 1984.
5.) It used to be a one-day event.
But then, some time before the 2007 Breeders’ Cup, a bunch of people got together and were like: “Man, this is a lot of fun; let’s run it back a second day!”
And that’s how it became a two-day event, probably.
6.) American Pharoah will be the first Triple Crown winner to contest a Breeders’ Cup race.
A.P., as he’s known around the stables, arrived in Lexington yesterday and got an early morning run in today.
He will race in Saturday’s main event with hopes of joining Ferdinand, Alysheba, Sunday Silence and Unbridled as the only Kentucky Derby winners to win the $5 million Classic.
A win will also give Pharoah horse racing’s first Grand Slam and the distinction of being the best ever.
7.) 11 different tracks have taken turns staging the event.
Churchill Downs shares the lead with Santa Anita, each having hosted the Breeders’ Cup eight times. The Cup was last held at Churchill in back to back years in 2010 and 2011.
Lexington is better.
8.) You can go without actually going.
Does that make sense?
In case you missed it, here is how you can be at the Breeders’ Cup without actually going in: Tailgate On The Hill
9.) Kate Upton is coming to town.
— Kate Upton (@KateUpton) October 10, 2015
I need to find a way to lose 20 pounds and get handsome and get rich by tomorrow afternoon. In other words, I need a miracle.
Listening to Herb Brooks’ pregame speech on repeat in the shower in the morning.
10.) The city is excited. And nervous.
Lexington has already been entertaining its guests with the Breeders’ Cup Festival going on all week, all over the city. Tomorrow, things will really pick up around town when the Breeders’ Cup officially begins out at Keeneland.
This is Lexington’s one shot to prove it is capable of hosting a worldwide event like the Breeders’ Cup, and only time will tell if it passes or fails. There is certainly no shortage of events, restaurants and bourbon — a serious job well done by the community — but we’re about to find out if we’re up to the challenge, logistically.
If you’re out and about at all tonight or the weekend, soak it all up and enjoy the festivities. And if you see me wandering around downtown, say hello. I’ll be the guy with Kate Upton.