The 27th renewal of the Breeders' Cup World Championships, the seventh to be held at Churchill Downs, is now in the record books and, as expected, history was made. Goldikova became the first and only horse to win three Breeders' Cup races, taking her third consecutive Mile. This also gave her trainer Freddy Head his fifth Breeders' Cup win, with two as the jockey of Miesque in 1987 and 1988 in addition to three training Goldikova. Zenyatta attempted to match Goldikova's feat, having won the 2008 Ladies Classic and the Classic last year, but came up a head short when she finished second in the Classic to Blame. She was also attempting to become the second two-time Classic winner, the other being Tiznow in 2000-2001. Midday also finished second to Shared Account in her attempt to win a second Filly and Mare Turf.
Garrett Gomez won the Bill Shoemaker Award as outstanding jockey for a fourth time with his three wins, in the Juvenile Fillies Turf aboard More than Real, the Juvenile Turf aboard Pluck, and the Classic aboard Blame. His three wins, increasing his total in the Breeders' Cup to 12, move him to fourth in all-time wins, behind Jerry Bailey's 15, Mike Smith's 13, and Pat Day's 12.
There were 3 jockeys to win their first Breeders' Cup races: Jamie Theriot aboard Dubai Majesty in the Filly and Mare Sprint (he also won again aboard Chamberlain Bridge in the Turf Sprint), Jeffrey Sanchez aboard Awesome Feather in the Juvenile Fillies, and Eibar Coa on Sprint winner Big Drama. 6 trainers celebrated their first Cup wins: Diane Alvarado with Eldaafer in the Marathon, Bret Calhoun with Dubai Majesty in the Filly and Mare Sprint, Stanley Gold with Awesome Feather in the Juvenile Fillies, David Fawkes with Big Drama in the Sprint, Jerry Hollendorfer with Dakota Phone in the Dirt Mile, and Albert Stall Jr. with Blame in the Classic. Alvarado is the fourth female trainer to win, in addition to Carla Gaines, Laura de Seroux, and Jenine Sahadi.
Many predicted increases across the board with the move from Santa Anita back east to Churchill Downs, and they were not disappointed. The two-day betting handle on the Breeders' Cup World Championships, including separate pools in other countries and exchange wagering in the UK, was $196,354,072. The two-day total, excluding exchange wagering, was $173,339,131, an increase of 13% over the $153, 271,776 wagered in 2009. On-track handle increased both days compared to 2009 with $14,476,867 on Saturday, an increase of 19% over 2009. Wagering on the 14 Championships races rose over $21 million (16%) to $157,878,232.
Due to the larger overall capacity of Churchill Downs, total attendance for the two days increased 18.5% from 96,496 in 2009 to 114,353 in 2010. After an 11% increase in attendance on Friday, 72,739 were on hand Saturday for the 11-race card that included eight Breeders' Cup World Championship races, a 23.6% increase from the 2009 Saturday attendance of 58,845 at Santa Anita. This despite less than ideal weather with temperatures both days in the 40's compared to the 70's last year. With the return to conventional dirt after two years on the synthetic Pro-Ride track at Santa Anita, total international entries declined from a record 35 to 25. On the upside, the two-day Championships attracted a record 143 horses from North America. In total, there were 163 starters in the 14 Championships races, which is also a Breeders' Cup record.
Moving the races to prime time television meant three Championship races: the Filly and Mare Turf and Ladies' Classic on Friday, and the Classic on Saturday, were contested after sunset under the floodlights. This had the desired effect on TV ratings, as the preliminary rating for the last hour of the ESPN broadcast of the Classic, from 6:15 p.m. Eastern until 7:15, was a 3.1, up 182 percent compared to a 1.1 preliminary rating for the broadcast last year. However, this made the event challenging for photographers, as the lack of daylight and the abnormal colors cast by the Churchill lighting system limited the number of usable photographs that could be taken of the event.
Breeders' Cup president and CEO Greg Avioli said, "The Breeders' Cup was created to showcase performances like those we witnessed from Zenyatta, Blame, Goldikova and Uncle Mo. We experienced unprecedented levels of media coverage and are looking at record levels of revenue and our highest television rating in nearly 15 years thanks in large part to the phenomenon that is Zenyatta. We are grateful that we could provide the platform to help bring the amazing stories of some of the greatest horses in the world to a global audience of racing fans."
The Championships also suffered some embarrassments on the world stage. After two years at Santa Anita where no horse left the track on the ambulance, the Juvenile Turf wss marred by tragedy when Rough Sailing slipped and fell on the clubhouse turn. He unseated rider Anna Napravnik who walked off uninjured, but Rough Sailing was found to have fractured the humerus in the right forelimb and was euthanized. Jockey Calvin Borel pulled up Atta Boy Roy soon after the end of the Sprint, having noticed sensitivity in the right forelimb. Taken by horse van to the barn, a mild injury of the suspensory ligament was discovered, not life-threatening and likely not career-threatening.
The very first race of the Championships, the Marathon, had some unexpected drama after the stewards disqualified second place finisher Prince Will I Am for interference. In the walkway back to the tunnel, jockey Calvin Borel who rode A.U. Miner attacked Prince Will I Am's rider Javier Castellano over the incident, but they were quickly restrained and separated by security guards. The stewards later fined Borel $5000 for this action, while Castellano was fined $2500 and suspended 6 days for the riding infraction.
The 28th Breeders' Cup World Championships will be held on Friday, November 4 and Saturday, November 5, 2011 at Churchill Downs.