He primary aim of Breeders’ Cup Limited would be to build positive public awareness of Thoroughbred racing and to expand opportunities for improvement of the Thoroughbred business. These objectives are first accomplished through the Breeders’ Cup Championship, a yearlong international showcase of the sport’s greatest stars.
Moreover, the Breeders’ Cup supports these goals through the funds of a year-round series of stakes races, consumer advertising programs and nationally televised races.
It’s the All Star Game of Thoroughbred racing – only better. Eight times better. It is 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 best to be known as the best of the best belongs, many would argue, to the winner of this 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 very first race, the Distaff, until the garland is draped across the shoulders of the Classic winner . Heart-stopping finishes, stunning upsets, international glamour, conservative fun – Breeders’ Cup Championship has it all.
Racing’s richest event is really a movable feast. Each fall, a distinct 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, yet another at Orientation Belmont Park, another at scenic Santa Anita in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. Important paths compete aggressively for the right to stage the tournament program and each year’s selection is eagerly anticipated. At the exact same time, the revolving nature of the Breeders’ Cup Championship ensures that it belongs to all racing.
That’s just what its founders envisioned while the concept of the Breeders’ Cup took origin in 1982. Racing’s leaders needed a car to market the game, a showcase for its finest components, and a grand finale to the racing season. The Championship races became the cornerstone of a year-round program that has allocated more than $380 million to owners and breeders since the inaugural 1984 occasion. The first Breeders’ Cup Championship, at glitzy Hollywood Park, was an instant hit.
Ever since then, the Breeders’ Cup Championship has redefined the racing calendar – getting the season-ending target for the 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. Along with 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 such as 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 those who saw him at the 1991 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
“Championship afternoon is unquestionably racing’s greatest 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 soul of an entire industry.
“Each season is unique. Every year is better. One of the event’s most fascinating elements is that the intense competition between North American and European contenders. In almost every race, national pride is on the line. Owners and coaches from England, Ireland, France, Japan, and Germany currently circle the Breeders’ Cup Championship in their calendars and plan their own horses’ schedules so.
Dozens of European horses plank freight airplanes each autumn and cross the Atlantic in search of the Breeders’ Cup’s rich spoils. Their victory in a number of these races has ensured that horses keep coming back. Who will forget the gallant French filly Miesque winning back editions of the Breeders’ Cup Mile? Or a 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 has become the foremost global racing event. “The program was looked at as a radical step as it started, but now it is considered a part of the fabric of American racing,” says Breeders’ Cup president D. G. Van Clief, Jr..
The Breeders’ Cup Championship continues to increase 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 audiences in 1998 and when Breeders’ Cup came back to Louisville in 2000, more than $108 million was wagered.
However, the Breeders’ Cup Championship is famous beyond the boundaries of the specific host monitor. NBC has televised the event since its beginning, giving a level of air time unprecedented in Thoroughbred racing. The community’s coverage has won Eclipse Awards for National Television Achievement along with the Outstanding Live Sports Special of 1992 at the 14th Emmy Awards for Sports annual service.
The buildup to the Breeders’ Cup begins well beforehand of the Championship day. NTRA’s”Racing to the Breeders’ Cup” on ESPN understands 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 functions as racing’s version of the playoffs.
Along with television, simulcasting – that the transmission by satellite of actual races – has helped further the recognition of the Breeders’ Cup. At the same time, the caliber of the races on Championship day has made simulcast outlets keen to carry the program. The number of outlets demonstrating the telecast is growing with leaps and bounds. In 1984, the seven races have been beamed to 19 North American outlets, where patrons wagered $8 million. Now, over 1000 outlets handle excess of $108 million. Expanding its recognition, the true race signal is sent by satellite to simulcast outlets in over 25 nations, throughout the Western Hemisphere, Europe and Australia. The continuing expansion of the Breeders’ Cup simulcast around the world is a primary goal of the Breeders’ Cup.
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 into the Breeders’ Cup, Thoroughbred owners and breeders have been its backbone since the start. They not only provide the horses which compete in Breeders’ Cup occasions, they pay the nominations where the organization derives its major source of funding.
Stallion owners yearly pay a nomination fee that’s the equal of a stallion’s advertised stud fee, or a minimum of $1,000. Breeders pay a nomination fee of $500 for every foal. Nominated horses are eligible to compete for countless both the National Stakes program and the Breeders’ Cup Championship events.
As an global 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 association.
In a short while, 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 additional day of racing could accommodate the Breeders’ Cup Championship for non-stop excitement.
The Breeders’ Cup has realized what its founders set out to do – and even much more. It remains the definitive evaluation of winners and has become racing’s most recognizable and effective showpiece. It only guarantees to increase in the years to come.
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