The Breeders’ Cup lands where the turf meets the surf

By Brianne Brown
Alex Evers/Eclipse Sportswire/Breeders’ Cup
Alex Evers/Eclipse Sportswire/Breeders’ Cup

Originally conceived as a year-end championship following the famed Kentucky Derby, the prestigious Breeders’ Cup has had its fair share of dramatic finishes in its storied 33-year history. In its debut season in 1984, audiences waited with bated breath to hear the results of a spectacular three-way finish. After almost 10 minutes and a steward’s inquiry, Wild Again was officially declared the winner.

For the first time ever, the Breeders’ Cup is coming to San Diego, bringing with it not only prestige and celebrity, but an expected economic impact of almost $75M. The week leading up to the races feature events and activities including a 5K run, a golf tournament at the world-renowned Torrey Pines Golf Course, concerts, food, music and more.

But considering how long the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club has been hosting races, why has it taken so long for the Breeders’ Cup to make its debut where the turf meets the surf? The answer, according to Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Craig Dado, is simple: “We weren’t eligible. Breeders’ Cup rules state that the track must be wide enough to accommodate 14 horses. Our track was too narrow and could only accommodate 10.” But following a $5M upgrade to the San Diego Fairgrounds’ race track, Dado is hopeful that race officials will want to return in the future. The famed SoCal climate, Dado argues, tips the scales in our favor. “The weather in November is perfect [for horse racing]. When the race is scheduled to take place in the Northeast in November, [race officials] are kind of holding [their] breath and hoping for favorable conditions.”

In addition to ideal weather conditions, Dado cites Del Mar’s resort destination location as a major draw. Indeed, Del Mar is home to world-class dining (Jake’s Del Mar, The Poseidon) and posh resorts (L’Auberge Del Mar and Fairmont Grand Del Mar). And with 70 percent of ticket sales occurring outside Southern California, Dado is confident in his assertion that those who refer to the Breeders’ Cup as the “Super Bowl of Horse Racing” have it wrong: “I would liken it to the Olympics. We have 13 different races occurring over two days: we have male races, female races, long distance, short distance, grass races and dirt races. Horses from Europe and South America will race against North American horses. It truly is an international event.”

And which horse is Dado betting on? “Arrogate. In spite of being defeated twice earlier this season, I think he’ll be able to defend his title from last year.”

The festivities will begin on Saturday, October 28 and continue throughout the running of the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Saturday, November 4. The exciting line-up of events includes:


ARCADIA, CA - NOVEMBER 5: Arrogate #10, ridden by Mike Smith, finishes first ahead of California Chrome #4, ridden by Victor Espinoza, in the the Breeders' Cup Classic during day two of the 2016 Breeders' Cup World Championships at Santa Anita Park on November 5, 2016 in Arcadia, California. (Photo by Eclipse Sportswire/Breeders Cup)
ARCADIA, CA - NOVEMBER 5: Arrogate #10, ridden by Mike Smith, finishes first ahead of California Chrome #4, ridden by Victor Espinoza, in the the Breeders' Cup Classic during day two of the 2016 Breeders' Cup World Championships at Santa Anita Park on November 5, 2016 in Arcadia, California. (Photo by Eclipse Sportswire/Breeders Cup)

Art of the Horse 
(Through Saturday, November 4): The second annual pop-up art exhibition features 20 life-size, fiberglass horse statues created by San Diego’s most talented local artists displayed 
in prominent locations throughout San Diego.

Jake’s 35th Annual Beach Fun Run and Breeders’ Cup Breeze (Saturday, October 28): Kicking off the official Breeders’ Cup Festival week, the 3.2-mile run
on the beach will conclude with a beach party at local eatery Jake’s Del Mar with live music, Polynesian entertainment, food and beverage offerings and a raffle drawing benefitting local charities.

Torrey Pines
Golf Tournament

(Tuesday, October 31st): Taking place at one of San Diego’s most pristine and coveted golf courses, the tournament will welcome Breeders’ Cup executives, owners and participants for a day of friendly competition.

Breeders’ Cup
Belly-Up Concert Series

(Wednesday, November 1–Saturday, November 4): Set to accommodate up to 600 guests per night, the Breeders’ Cup Belly-Up Concert Series will feature some of the greatest musical acts from the San Diego area for four lively nights of singing, dancing and mingling with fellow Breeders’ Cup fans.

Bourbon, BlueGrass & Breeders’ Cup (Wednesday, November 1):
The community party will feature live bluegrass music, bourbon and whiskey tastings featuring Maker’s Mark®, Knob Creek® and Basil Hayden®, among others, and hors d’oeuvres at the newly constructed Barn at the Beach facility at Powerhouse Park in Del Mar.

Jocktails at the Breeders’ Cup
(Wednesday, November 1): One of the Breeders’ Cup’s most highly-anticipated annual events will feature cocktails crafted by the Breeders’ Cup’s most famous jockeys and personalities at the Del Mar Plaza. All proceeds from Jocktails at the Breeders’ Cup will benefit the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund.

Racing Excellence Award Honoring Dick Enberg
(Wednesday, November 1): Honoring legendary American sportscaster Dick Enberg, the gala will bring together several of Dick’s colleagues and friends, sports enthusiasts, business leaders and the local and national horseracing community for a celebration of San Diego and Del Mar’s inaugural hosting of the Breeders’ Cup World Championship. The gala will benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito.

Bing Crosby Fall Meet (Wednesday, November 1 & Thursday, November 2): Named after iconic actor, songwriter, singer and founding partner of the Del Mar Racetrack, Bing Crosby, this series of races will immediately precede the 2017 Breeders’ Cup World Championships.

Best at the Barn (Thursday, November 2): An upscale tasting event that brings together San Diego County’s finest chefs preparing tastes that showcase their signature style, with specialty cocktails and wines. The event will also feature live entertainment at the Barn at the Beach venue at Powerhouse Park in Del Mar.

Bash at the Beach (Friday, November 3): Following the first full day of championship races, Bash at the Beach invites fans to enjoy a cocktail as they take in a stunning San Diego sunset. The event will feature live music by Haute Chile, a live auction of racing memorabilia, cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. The Bash will benefit Thoroughbred Charities of America.

La Jolla Art Walk (Friday, November 3): Set in the hilly seaside community just south of Del Mar, this art tour will usher guests through several of the area’s most notable galleries.

Breeders’ Cup Viewing and After Parties (Saturday, November 4): Viewing and after parties capping off the Breeders’ Cup Festival will take place at Barn at the Beach in Powerhouse Park.

To learn more about the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Festival and the individual events, please visit breederscupfestival.com.

Breeders’ Cup, Del Mar Thoroughbred Club November 3–4, 2017, 2260 Jimmy Durante Boulevard, Del Mar. For ticket information, call 877.849.4287 or visit breederscup.com/vip-tickets ]