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Breeders' Cup 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 Championship,
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 televised races.
It's the All Star Game of Thoroughbred racing -
only better. Eight times better. It's the Breeders'
Cup Championship, a multi-million dollar extravaganza
that brings together the world's best horses to
compete in eight sensational races.
The Breeders' Cup Championship 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 Championship 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 Championship has it all.
Racing's richest event is truly a movable feast.
Each fall, a different North American track plays
host to the Breeders' Cup Championship 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 Championship
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 Championship, at glitzy Hollywood
Park, was an instant hit.
Since then, the Breeders' Cup Championship 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 sexes, as
is the Classic.
The Breeders' Cup Championship 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 Championship 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 Championship. 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, Jr.
The Breeders' Cup Championship 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 Championship 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 EmmyAwards
for Sports annual ceremony.
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, simulcasting - 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'
Major corporate sponsors also have helped boost
recognition of the Breeders' Cup Championship. 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 National
Stakes program and the Breeders' Cup Championship
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 global institution.
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 Championship
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.
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