It's time the Breeders' Cup gives new tracks a chance

It's time the Breeders' Cup gives new tracks a chance
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire

This past Friday, the Breeders' Cup officially announced that its championships will take place at Santa Anita, Keeneland and Del Mar in 2019, 2020 and 2021, respectively. For Santa Anita, this will mark the record 10th time hosting, while it's the second for both Keeneland and Del Mar.

Overall, it means the states of Kentucky and California will claim 15 of the last 16 Breeders' Cups.

Of course, Breeders' Cup officials call Kentucky home, and running in California almost guarantees beautiful weather in early November. But for a sport that needs to reach new audiences, perhaps it's time to give other states' tracks a chance.

Since its first running in 1984, the Breeders' Cup has visited 13 tracks in six states and two countries. Not since 2007 has it left Kentucky and California, that year going to Monmouth Park.

To visit another course would bring exposure to tracks that players don't always have top of mind, plus attract more local fans to the track.

Canterbury Park, located in Minnesota, produces great racing every year and the people of Minnesota show up. Oklahoma's Remington park, a popular Midwest stop, hosts its share of nice stakes in the fall already and could also prove a nice changeup.

More obviously, a place such as Laurel Park seems ready to host having recently undergone significant renovations. It could also soon be home to the second leg of the Triple Crown, the Preakness Stakes, with the ability to attract the Breeders' Cup one way to ease the blow locally of moving the state's biggest race.

If there is one track, however, that the Breeders' Cup continues to most overlook, it's New York's Belmont Park, which last hosted in 2005. Championships there always seemed to produce memorable moments. The track also sits within the country's largest media market.

Over the years, the Breeders' Cup has visited the likes of Arlington Park, Woodbine and even Lone Star Park, elevating racing there along the way. Seemingly, they're no longer even considered in the current rotation.

Of course, the Breeders' Cup is a business. Going to Churchill Downs, this year's host site, along with the future three tracks, means guaranteed success.

But the championships are also the only roving showcase for the sport, with the Breeders' Cup able to bring top-level racing wherever it chooses and expose a new group of people to the game. In the future, it's worth considering circuits outside of Kentucky and California for their chance in the spotlight.

Meet Jeff Brynes

I have loved this sport since my early childhood. My first true memory was when my grandfather took me to Saratoga for the 2005 Travers Stakes, and watching Flower Alley come down the stretch to duel with Bellamy Road. I'll never forget that day, the roar of the crowd, and the pure excitement of winning. I became an instant fan of the game. Since then, I've visited many tracks, among them Monmouth Park, Saratoga Harness, Freehold Raceway, Belmont Park, and the Meadowlands -- all in the New York / New Jersey area. 

Of all the horses I've seen in my lifetime, none have captured my imagination like Curlin. The two time Horse of the Year is, and will always be, my all-time favorite horse. Other favorites include Rachel Alexandra, Medaglia D'Oro, Wise Dan and American Pharaoh.

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