The Kentucky Derby is the biggest annual event held at Louisville’s historic Churchill Downs race track. It’s not the only major racing event held at the track–Churchill Downs has hosted the Breeders’ Cup eight times and will once again be the venue for the two day ‘Super Bowl’ of horse racing in 2018. The 2018 Breeders’ Cup has been scheduled for November 2 and 3. The 2016 event will be held at California’s Santa Anita Race Track with the 2017 event being held at another California track, Del Mar.
The announcement was made jointly on Monday by executives for both companies. The Breeders’ Cup has been anxious to return to Churchill Downs–the track has been the host site for record breaking years in attendance and betting revenue figures. The 2015 Breeders’ Cup was held at another Kentucky track–Keeneland Race Course in Lexington. The event was considered a rousing success but attendance had to be limited due to the relatively small size of the Keeneland grandstand. Even with thousands of temporary seats brought in for the event ticket demand well exceeded supply.
The advantage of Churchill Downs is twofold: the track can accommodate a significantly larger crowd and the Louisville area has many more tourist ammenities such as hotels, restaurants and bars. Additionally, travel logistics are easier for fans flying in to the area. Although Churchill Downs has been a frequent venue for the Breeders’ Cup it hasn’t hosted the event since 2010 and 2011. The betting revenue figures and attendance figures at Churchill have been staggering–The 2010 Breeders’ Cup attracted $173.9 million in bets and a total of 114,353 spectators–both records for a two day Breeders’ Cup. Churchill Downs also has the record attendance and betting handle for single day Breeders’ Cup–a crowd of 80,452 attended the 1998 event and a record $140.3 million was bet in 2006.
The Breeders’ Cup selection committee was also impressed by Churchill’s ongoing investment in their facility and determination to keep it among the top venues in the world for horse racing. Breeders’ Cup chief executive Craig Fravel noted this in today’s announcement saying: “Churchill Downs’s ongoing, significant investment in their facility to enhance the experience for participants and fans aligns perfectly with our desire to conduct one of the best racing events in the world”.