Although it’s not a consistent event for Louisville, the Breeders’ Cup World Championships returned to Churchill Downs this year and will return again in 2011, on the first weekend of November.
While events – and weather – make things rather different from the Derby on the first Saturday in May, horse owners’ private jets fill Louisville International Airport, and most downtown hotels sell out.
The Breeders’ Cup, created in 1982 by Kentucky thoroughbred owner and breeder John R. Gaines, is one of sports’ richest days. In 2009, Breeders’ Cup prize money totaled more than $25 million. Another $100 million was won by bettors around the world.
Over its two days the Breeders’ Cup offers fans 14 races, which in the past has such champions as Azeri, A.P. Indy, Alysheba, Cigar, Curlin, Personal Ensign, Ferdinand, Sunday Silence, and Zenyatta.
Yet compared to the annual Derby Festival, the Breeders’ Cup is a relatively low-key event in Louisville. But there are a few things related to the cup that one can enjoy in Louisville – provided one has tickets.
This year, the Derby Museum hosted an evening of racing memories with trainers D. Wayne Lukas, Nick Zito, Carl Nafzger and Bob Baffert and jockeys Pat Day, Calvin Borel and Gary Stevens.
Then the day before Breeders’ Cup, locals had the chance to experience a charity brunch featuring actress Bo Derek as speaker, and bettors had access to a “Breeders’ Cup Handicapping Summit” at the Churchill Downs Clubhouse. Jockey Robbie Albarado even went out to a Louisville Kroger to sign autographs.
Odds are, however, that more famous folks will be spotted in Louisville during the actual Breeders’ Cup.
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