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Submitted by Jerry Antonucci on Tuesday, June 11, 2013 at 12:00 AM

Breeders’ Cup 2014 to be held at Santa Anita

The 2014 Breeders’ Cup will be held Oct. 31-Nov. 1 at Santa Anita Park near Los Angeles, Breeders’ Cup announced Monday morning, marking the third consecutive time Santa Anita will host the event and the eighth time overall.

No other track has held the event in three consecutive years.

The decision to hold the two-day event at Santa Anita for the fifth time in the past seven years reflects the organization’s comfort level with the track as well as Breeders’ Cup’s preference to card the event at a warm-weather site. Over the past five years, many influential board members of the organization have lobbied heavily in favor of Santa Anita, which is owned by the Stronach Group, a private company controlled by the billionaire owner-breeder Frank Stronach.

The two other candidates to host the 2014 event were Churchill Downs and the New York Racing Association’s Belmont Park, according to officials.

“Santa Anita has proven to be an outstanding host for our championships, providing horsemen and fans around the world with a first-class facility and one of the greatest experiences in sports,” Craig Fravel, the chief executive of Breeders’ Cup, said in a release. “We also value our relationship with the Southern California business and entertainment community, who have demonstrated longtime dedication and support of the Breeders’ Cup since our inception in 1984.”

While Breeders’ Cup has shied from New York over the past decade because of the political and financial problems that have continually beset NYRA, Churchill Downs has remained in the mix even as some on the Breeders’ Cup board have supported making Santa Anita a permanent site. Churchill is the only racetrack other than Santa Anita to host the event since 2008. Churchill hosted the event in 2010 and 2011.

Churchill spokesman John Asher said in a statement that the track had “extensive discussions with the Breeders’ Cup over the possibility of serving as its host track in 2014, and our parties had no financial disagreements.”

In response to a question, Asher said that Churchill “would certainly be open to discuss a return of the event to Louisville.” Churchill has hosted the Breeders’ Cup eight times, and its two-day combined attendance figures in 2010 and 2011 were the highest since the Breeders’ Cup expanded to two days in 2007.

The decision to tab Santa Anita as the 2014 host was telegraphed three weeks ago when the California Horse Racing Board, deliberating over the state’s racing calendar for 2014 now that Hollywood Park has announced that it will close at the end of this year, awarded Santa Anita 2014 racing dates through the first weekend of November, when Breeders’ Cup prefers to hold the event. At the same meeting, Del Mar Thoroughbred Club outside of San Diego was awarded the fall dates for 2015, beginning on Oct. 28 of that year.

Prior to being hired by Breeders’ Cup as chief executive in 2011, Fravel was the president and general manager at Del Mar. The track, which generates one of the highest average attendance figures in the United States during its summer meet, plans to widen its turf course this fall, a project that will enable it to card turf races with a maximum of 14 runners beginning in 2014.

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