Lexington ‘The New Standard’ For Breeders’ Cup Host Cities

by | 11.25.2015 | 1:31pm

Representatives of the Breeders' Cup were on hand at a meeting Nov. 24 at The Red Mile to discuss the economic impact of the 2015 Breeders' Cup on Lexington.

According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, officials had nothing but praise for the city, saying that Lexington was “the new standard” in how welcome it made visitors, from the beautiful landscaping on major roadways around the area to the festivals and events held downtown each day.

Breeders' Cup president and CEO Craig Fravel, along with chief operating officer Bob Elliston attending the meeting, which was the first in a series hosted by the Bluegrass Sports Commission. The Cup is expected to have a $65 million impact on the area.

While Fravel admitted that there were early concerns that a city of Lexington's size would have trouble holding such a large event, he had nothing but praise for city officials, saying that Lexington “put a new energy into the Breeders' Cup.”

“It's made other people stand up and take notice.”

Read more in the Lexington Herald-Leader

  • Tinky

    Hey Craig –

    Are you familiar with this famous Upton Sinclair quote?

    “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

    Well, your observation that Lexington ““put a new energy into the Breeders’ Cup” is a perfect example of what Sinclair meant. You see, holding the BC in Lexington did not put new energy into the event, but rather underscored how foolish your organization has been by wildly over-using Santa Anita, and ignoring the wisdom of the founder of the event, John Gaines.

    The BC was, and will always be a better and more exciting event when it rotates to tracks around North America, including Woodbine.

    • Inkboy95

      Could not agree more. I been to the BC when it was at Arlington woodbine and lone star. It was always exciting going to a new venue every year. And I did go to Santa Anita once also. The smaller tracks seemed to have way more excitement. And as just a average joe player I felt more welcome at the smaller tracks. Keeneland was fine for a one time host and it may have been great for the big dollar heavy hitters but for the average fan it was just ok. From the running of the benches to the 100 deep line for the bathroom I’d rather be at Belmont or Churchill Downs. And in 2016 we go back to Santa Anita forgive me but I’m not at all excited about that.

      • Alan Boyd

        The Running of the Benches was BS. They should all be reserved seats at the BC.

        • Inkboy95

          Like they were at Churchill the last time they had the BC.

    • Elle D

      Craig admitted at the meeting that the BC at Santa Anita had grown “stale” and that he believed a rotation was in the best interest of it. Having been to many across the country, I’m in agreement.

      • Tinky

        I’ll let the readers decide for themselves how much credit he deserves for having eventually figured out something that was perfectly obvious to many of us years ago.

        The main point is that Fravel made choices that presumably appeared to be (and perhaps were) in the near-term financial interest of the BC, yet at the same time failed to anticipate the longer term implications.

        It is precisely that kind of myopic thinking that has hamstrung the industry for decades.

        • Elle D

          You live, you learn.

          • Tinky

            You seem genuinely kind, and that is a good thing. However, we’re talking about a man who is paid around three-quarters of a million dollars a year to lead a very important organization, not a child who painted on a wall and will hopefully have learned something from the mistake.

            Fravel not only failed to see what a mistake it was to favor Santa Anita to such an extreme degree, but also dropped the ball badly with regard to the Lasix issue. He bowed to status quo pressures, rather than showing bold leadership.

            No, this isn’t a matter of some employee learning on the job, and improving year after year. He is being paid to be very, very good at his job, and his record is one closer to incompetence.

    • Concerned Observer

      Based on the strategy of bringing the BC back to it’s roots (Lex) when will the Superbowl again be played outdoors in Green Bay or Chicago? Never?

      If the goal of the BC is to draw attention to racing, draw in new fans, expose the excitement of racing to the masses, then pandering to the “old guard” established audience in a restricted provincial market does not accomplish the goal.

  • Ellle D

    I went to the meeting to hear first hand what they had to say. The BC at Keeneland was lauded by all in attendance. I think it’s safe to say it will return to Keeneland. Keeneland definitely wants in on the rotation, and by everything I heard at the meeting, BC, the city of Lexington, and the business leaders are all in agreement to bring it back.

  • pallyhubris

    Want to amp up the excitement? Go back to a single day event.

  • Michael Castellano

    Perhaps someone can comment on the major reasons why New York no longer hosts a Breeder’s Cup — what has it been now, 20 years. It is mostly something which can be attributed to NYRA’s cheapness, the relative disrepair at their facilities, and disinterest, or is BC itself dominated by those hostile to New York interests? I am not familiar with the inside dope on this issue.

    • idavis

      2005 was the last BC at Belmont and it was a 1 day event. I think the NYRA has had so many issues that BC didn’t feel it would be well served having it in NY. In the interim, it doesn’t appear NYRA has gone after it with any gusto or aggressiveness. Gotta want it. I hope it does go back to Belmont sometime soon, but I am not holding my breath.

      • Figless

        Initially it was political, with the uncertain franchise debacle looming, since then NYRA is focused on being profitable, and BC is a loss for the host organization.

        I see no reason for it to be held in NY, despite living here, it was miserably cold last time, the facility is not heated, and NYC has so much going on in October/November it barely gets a mention in the local media. Had it been here this year it would have competed with the Mets WS appearance and NFL.

        So combined with it being a loss for NYRA its simply not worth it, better off rotating in warm sites.

        • idavis

          I was there in 2005 and loved every minute of it. Not that cold. I have been at Keeneland in early April when we had snow flurries. The BC was a 1 day event at that time and they had better attendance in NY than all other tracks except Churchill. With regard to other events on the same weekend, Keeneland had a UK football game and another equine event going on the same weekend and it still did fine. Belmont should definitely be in the rotation if they ever get their act together.

    • AngelaFromAbilene

      New York would have a better chance of hosting the Breeders Cup if they applied.

  • Mike Connors

    I believe the BC was booked at Santa Anita after the fiasco at Monmonth Park, no?

  • Bobf

    I think it’s great that Lexington made it such a great event and the community got behind it.

    That is never going to happen in Arcadia where Santa Anita is. The reason why is it’s Los Angeles and for the most part nobody cares that the Breeder’s Cup is going on. San Diego will be great in 2017.

    After next year I hope they take a long break from Santa Anita. Maybe go back to Arlington or Woodbine. Eventually they have to go back to New York.

    John Gaines had a vision and it’s time for the BC to bring that back.

    • Elle D

      I think the city embraced BC more than any other. One would expect it, considering this is horse country. One of the advantageous things, I believe, was that it’s a smaller area to maneuver around. Events were in close proximity.

  • Ruffian75

    I think part of the problem was really financial. The expense of moving all of the Breeders Cup infrastructure is not cheap. The economy was definitely hurting, especially in the horse industry, during the Santa Anita run. There were other issues with the relationship with Churchill. Worries about the weather in places like New York. There is a definite issue with fitting a crowd into Gulfstream. So, they made the best choice available for the circumstances they were facing. It may be more feasible to rotate now and it sounds like they want to.

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