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2011 Breeders' Cup World Championships Wrap-up

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The Breeders' Cup and Shoemaker Award trophies

The Breeders' Cup and Shoemaker Award trophies

© Terence Dulay
November 8, 2011

The 28th renewal of the Breeders' Cup World Championships, the eighth to be held at Churchill Downs and the second year in a row at the historic Louisville oval, is now in the record books and, as expected, history was made.

With victories by Drosselmeyer in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and Royal Delta in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic, trainer Bill Mott joined John Shirreffs as the only trainer to win both races in the same Championship weekend. Shirreffs accomplished the feat at Santa Anita in 2009 when Zenyatta won the Classic one day after Life Is Sweet prevailed in the Ladies’ Classic.

Court Vision's $131.60 win payoff in the Breeders’ Cup Mile is the second highest in Cup history, still dwarfed by Arcangues' $269.20 for his 1993 Classic win at Santa Anita, but ahead of Spain's $113.80 in the 2000 Distaff. Out of 15 races, only 4 favorites won, 3 on Friday (of 6 races) and just 1 on Saturday (of 9 races). Three jockeys -- Juan Leyva, Rajiv Maragh, and Joseph O'Brien -- won their first Breeders' Cup races this year, while five trainers -- Bill Kaplan, Roger Attfield, Robert Reid Jr., Bill Spawr, and Donnie Von Hemel -- visited the BC winner's circle for the first time this year. Leyva, O'Brien, and Reid won with their first BC starters.

Mike Smith, aboard Drosselmeyer in the Classic, won his 15th Breeders' Cup race, tying him with retired fellow Hall of Famer Jerry Bailey. John Velazquez rode two Breeders’ Cup winners Friday to bring his total to 11, ranking fifth behind Bailey, Smith and Pat Day and Garrett Gomez tied for third with 12 each. Joseph O’Brien, at 18 years 5 months, 13 days, became the youngest jockey to win a Breeders’ Cup race when prevailing with St Nicholas Abbey for his father, trainer Aidan O’Brien, in the Breeders’ Cup Turf, surpassing Fernando Jara, who won the 2006 Breeders’ Cup Classic with Invasor at 18 years, 10 months, 18 days. Along with his 2 wins, Velazquez had 2 seconds and 1 third, earning him the Shoemaker Award for outstanding jockey for the second time in his career.

Bill Mott (Ladies' Classic and Classic) and Aidan O'Brien (Juvenile Turf and Breeders’ Cup Turf) were the only trainers with multiple winners this year. Mott drew into a tie for third in all-time wins with Bob Baffert with eight each, trailing D. Wayne Lukas’ remarkable total of 18 and Shug McGaughey second with nine. Baffert won the inaugural Juvenile Sprint Friday with Secret Circle. O'Brien is in a five-way tie for most wins at six with Neil Drysdale, Richard Mandella, Bobby Frankel and Todd Pletcher.

Despite the disappointment felt by fans of Goldikova who was going for her fourth Breeders’ Cup Mile win, it is worth noting that her 3rd place finish was the best placing among the 8 defending or former BC champions that raced. 2010 Juvenile winner Uncle Mo was a disappointing 10th in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, 2010 Filly and Mare Turf winner Shared Account was 7th this year, Big Drama checked in 7th in his attempt to repeat in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, defending Marathon champ Eldaafer was 6th, and in the Turf Sprint, 2010 winner Chamberlain Bridge was 8th while 2009 winner California Flag was 12th.

A two-day attendance total for the 2011 Breeders’ Cup World Championships of 105,820 is the second highest two-day total, seven percent less than last year’s record-setting total attendance of 114,353 that was fueled in part by the legendary race mare Zenyatta’s bid to remain undefeated, Breeders' Cup officials announced after the conclusion of Saturday’s races. 

After a two percent decrease in attendance on Friday, 65,143 were on hand Saturday for the 12-race card that included nine Breeders’ Cup World Championship races. Last year’s Saturday attendance was 72,739.

The two-day common pool total was $155,525,947, a decrease of 4.9% from the record-setting $163,619,784 wagered in 2010. The common pool handle for Saturday’s 12-race card was $105,472,442, a decrease of 4.5% from the 2010 Saturday common-pool handle of $110,609,159 for 11 races. The $50,053,505 wagered on Friday's card was a decrease of 5.6% from the $53,010,625 bet on Friday's card in 2010. For the Breeders’ Cup races only, the two-day common pool total was $140,070,365 down 5.1% from the $147,524,454 bet last year. On-track handle at Churchill Downs for the two days was $21,475,916, down 4.9% from the 2010 figure of $22,586,311.   On Saturday, the on-track handle was $13,710,734 off 4.8 percent from $14,405,874 wagered on-site in 2010.

Breeders' Cup president and CEO Craig Fravel said,  “Congratulations to all the winners over the two days of our Championships. The Breeders’ Cup extends its sincere thanks to all of the participants in our event, to the enthusiastic crowd, to our sponsors, and to our partners at Churchill Downs.  We look forward to the 2012 event at Santa Anita Park.”

The 29th Breeders' Cup World Championships will be held on Friday, November 3 and Saturday, November 4, 2011 at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California.

Readers Respond: Does the Breeders' Cup have too many races now?

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