Plenty of challenges hosting Breeders Cup but Del Mar passed them all

Plenty of challenges hosting Breeders Cup but Del Mar passed them all

November 07, 2017 3:04 AM
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Knowing the annual challenges when the Southern California racing shifts to Del Mar each summer and fall, I had my doubts as to whether the fan experience for Breeders’ Cup 2017 would be a good one.

Would the elevators work? Would there be enough parking? Would it be impossible to move throughout the grandstand to get to your seats? Would you miss a race or two trying to get a bet placed at the windows? How many drunken fans would drop a beer on your head by mistake? All valid concerns based on previous experience.

Del Mar came through with flying colors. By limiting the maximum capacity to 37,000 fans (Del Mar’s summer opening day annually draws over 40,000 crazies) and limiting access to the grandstand areas to ticketed fans, it was a very pleasant surprise to be able to move about freely, get a bet placed at the windows without having to set up camp, and even grab something to eat and drink without missing a race.

Better yet, the fan base that came to the Breeders’ Cup at Del Mar came out to see Horse Racing. Not a concert, not a craft brew festival, not a food truck, not a BBQ competition, not wiener dog races. They came to watch championship horse racing and get a look at the best in the world.

The result? The on-track handle on Breeders’ Cup Saturday was up over 18% from the same Saturday at Santa Anita last year. Overall on-track handle for the two Breeders’ Cup days showed an increase of approximately 21%, and I don’t have to get the smell of stale beer out of my coat and slacks.

Hats off to the Del Mar management team and the Breeders’ Cup for creating a great environment for the championship events. Here’s hoping the Breeders’ Cup officials saw enough to bring it back to Del Mar in the near future. 

I can say with slight surprise that I did.

BC Fallout

Here are some notes as to who may be going where following the Breeders’ Cup races at Del Mar:

Breeders’ Cup Classic Champion Gun Runner will likely be pointed to the Pegasus Invitational at Gulfstream Park in January. He will go to Three Chimneys Farm in Lexington for a short rest before getting geared up at the Fair Grounds this winter by trainer Steve Asmussen.

Arrogate once again showed his disdain for the Del Mar track and has been retired to Juddmonte Farms.

Breeders’ Cup Classic second and third place finishers Collected and West Coast will likely be pointed to the Pegasus Invitational by trainer Bob Baffert.

Breeders’ Cup Distaff beaten favorite Stellar Wind has been retired and was scheduled to be sold at auction this week in Kentucky. Her loss and Accelerate’s loss in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile brings trainer John Sadler’s record in these events to 0-for-41 and counting.

Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner Mendelssohn, a $3 million auction buy and a half-brother to champion Beholder as well as top stallion Into Mischief, may be pointed to a campaign leading to next year’s Kentucky Derby, according to trainer Aiden O’Brien. He is bred to like dirt, so this experiment is worth keeping tabs on.

Lady Eli suffered multiple cuts on her hind legs when unplaced in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare turf. Luckily the cuts appear superficial. She was scheduled to be sold at auction this week, but has been withdrawn due to the minor injuries.

Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint champion Stormy Liberal may run next in the Hong Kong Sprint.

Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile also-ran Cupid has been retired.

Only two Breeders’ Cup favorites – World Approval in the Mile and Mendelssohn in the Juvenile Turf – won, and only two others finished in the top three (Bolt D’Oro third in the Juvenile and Highland Reel third in the Turf)

Back to Business

Del Mar gets back in action this week on Friday due to the five-day opening week schedule.

Lindo Top Play: Del Mar, Friday, Race 4 – Cute Knows Cute (post 8). Peter Miller won two Breeders’ Cup races last weekend and six races overall to grab the early lead in the trainer standings. He saddles Cute Knows Cute, who catches a field lacking much early zip. She will be fit exiting a route and one to catch and beat from cozy outside post.