The Rail: How the Breeders’ Cup really got started

by | 11.02.2011 | 9:25am

Jeff Deitz writes for the New York Times' Thoroughbred racing blog, The Rail, about the real story behind Breeders' Cup founder John Gaines and his vision for the event back in the early 1980's.  Gaines' son, Tom, says the oft-heard story that his father had garnered widespread support for a world championship is simply not true:

“Dad had spent years lobbying people to agree on the details and funding for the Breeders' Cup project. He had support from some, Nelson Bunker Hunt for one, but there certainly was no consensus. Without much ado, Dad called a press conference in the Pegasus room, a small chamber somewhere in the bowels of Churchill Downs. It was just Dad, my mother and me that day, along with a ragtag handful of journalists; I remember the podium and microphone. There were no other breeders, no network executives or representatives of the horse racing industry; just us, when he presented his plan.

“Dad was full of big plans for the future,” Tom Gaines continued, “so this press conference didn't seem like a big deal at the time, but when the horse racing media and the television networks bought into the idea, the project gained momentum, and the rest is history.”

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