By Maureen Werther
As thoroughbred racing fans leave the 2017 Saratoga Race Course season behind,the Breeders Cup Association continues to gear up for its own two-day event being held this year in Del Mar racetrack in California.
The Breeders Cup, slated for Nov. 3 and 4, is the culmination of grade one stakes races held at tracks across the country and around the world. It’s the equivalent of the Super Bowl for the thoroughbred industry.
Peter Rotondo, vice president of the Breeders’ Cup, was a very busy man during the running of the 2017 Whitney Stakes in Saratoga Springs. The race became part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge series in 2007. The race winner—Gun Runner this year—gets an automatic bid to the racing’s big event in November.
Rotondo’s activities in and around the track continued throughout the course of the meet, with appearances on panel groups and sponsorship of Equestricon, the first trade show of its kind in the world of thoroughbred racing.
Rotondo said when people think of the Breeders’ Cup, they usually think of just one race, the Classic, which is has a $6 million purse and is the marquis event.
But the Breeders’ Cup is a 13-race event, whose entries are winners of 81 different Grade One races run around the world. Horses that run in Saratoga, as well as many of the jockeys who work at the local track each summer, appear routinely at the Breeders Cup.
The Whitney became one of those 81 races for the first time in 2007 and Rotondo said that NYRA and the Breeders’ Cup Association have a great and continually growing relationship.
“There are a lot of horses here in Saratoga that will be running in November in Del Mar – not just in the 1¼ mile Classic.”
Keen Ice is one of those horses and Rotondo said that his trainer’s main goal will be to get Keen Ice into that rarified air.
Saratoga is fertile ground for other possible Breeders’ Cup contenders, with winners of the Jim Dandy, Whitney and Travers becoming contenders for post positions against winners from Dubai, Ireland and Europe.
Breeders’ Cup will have the red carpet rolled out and lined with celebrities, extraordinary events and an open wallet in November.
Entry fees for the Classic are $50 thousand, and Breeders’ Cup Association will pick up that tab for Gun Runner, winner of this year’s Whitney. The horse also won the Woodward Stakes at Saratoga on Sept. 2.
According to Rotondo, in total, Breeders’ Cup Association will spend $3 million in entry fees for the challenge in November.