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The Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita

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The Breeders' Cup statue in front of the grandstand fountain at Santa Anita.

The Breeders' Cup statue in front of the grandstand fountain at Santa Anita in 2008.

© Terence Dulay
Updated September 18, 2011

In 1986, Oak Tree hosted an on-track crowd at Santa Anita Park of 69,155, which bet a Breeders' Cup on-track record of $15,410,409. In 1993, total wagering on Breeders' Cup races at Oak Tree was $79,744,742, a North American record at that time for the event. That also was the year Arcangues posted the biggest upset in Breeders' Cup history, winning the Classic at odds of 133-1. In 2003, the 20th anniversary edition of the Breeders' Cup, 51,648 were on hand to witness history as trainer Richard Mandella won four Championship races, a record which still stands, while contributing to the record $120,631,437 total handle. Then in 2008 and 2009, Santa Anita became the first track to host the event in consecutive years, capped off by Zenyatta's electrifying performance to become the first female to win the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic.

On August 10, 2011, Breeders' Cup officials announced that the 2012 event will be held at Santa Anita on Friday November 2 and Saturday November 3, the sixth time the Arcadia track will host racing's championships. The decision followed a lengthy review process by the Breeders' Cup Host Site Selection Committee, which included proposals from multiple racing venues in North America, including 2010-2011 host Churchill Downs, and Belmont Park in New York which last hosted in 2005. Santa Anita removed its Pro-Ride synthetic surface, used for the 2008 and 2009 Championships, and replaced it with a new conventional dirt track in time for the 2010-2011 winter meeting.

Breeders' Cup president and CEO Craig Fravel said, "We are thrilled to bring back the Breeders' Cup to southern California which is always a strong draw for horseracing fans from around the world and where the Breeders' Cup has always been embraced by the community. Santa Anita Park is a world class racing venue that will once again provide a spectacular setting for 2 days of the best in international racing."

Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said, "We are proud and delighted to once again host the Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita Park and to welcome the legion of loyal racing fans to Southern California. This prestigious, international sporting phenomenon will boost our local economy and generate tens of millions of dollars in economic impact to the region."

Frank Stronach, chairman of the Stronach Group which owns Santa Anita said, "Hosting the Breeders' Cup is important to the California horseracing industry and it is an honor for Santa Anita to be chosen as host of the Breeders' Cup for the sixth time. Our team looks forward to the challenge of building on the success of 2008 and 2009 with the 2012 Breeders' Cup." It is worth noting that unlike past Breeders' Cups held here, 2012 will not be hosted by the non-profit Oak Tree Racing Association, which previously leased the track for their fall meeting every year.

The Breeders' Cup World Championships, Thoroughbred racing's most prestigious global event, annually attracts the best horses from around the world. It is the richest prize-money event in sports, consisting of 15 races and purses totaling $26 million. The 29th Breeders' Cup will be televised on ABC/ESPN and to more than 130 countries. Over the past five years, the, Breeders' Cup World Championships has experienced unprecedented growth, expanding from eight to 15 races, increasing prize money from $14 million to $26 million and growing total wagering from $140,332,198 to $173,339,131.

During the first 27 years of the Breeders' Cup, 41 Santa Anita starters went on to become Breeders' Cup champions the same year. Tiznow and Azeri, Horse of the Year in 2000 and 2002, both honed their skills at Santa Anita prior to Breeders' Cup victories. Below is a list of all 41 winners and their Santa Anita start:

  • Chief's Crown, 1984 Juvenile winner (first in the Norfolk)
  • Capote, 1986 Juvenile winner, (first in the Norfolk)
  • Skywalker, 1986 Classic winner (second in the Oak Tree Mile)
  • Success Express, 1987 Juvenile winner (fourth in the Norfolk)
  • Ferdinand, 1987 Classic winner (first in the Goodwood)
  • Great Communicator, 1988 Turf winner (second in the Oak Tree Turf)
  • Pleasant Stage, 1991 Juvenile Fillies winner (first in the Oak Leaf)
  • Cardmania, 1993 Sprint winner (first in the Ancient Title)
  • Phone Chatter, 1993 Juvenile Fillies winner (first in the Oak Leaf)
  • Hollywood Wildcat, 1993 Distaff winner (first in the Lady's Secret)
  • Brocco, 1993 Juvenile winner (first in an allowance race)
  • Kotashaan, 1993 Turf winner (first in the Oak Tree Turf)
  • Northern Spur, 1995 Turf winner (first in the Oak Tree Turf)
  • Jewel Princess, 1996 Distaff winner (second in the Lady's Secret)
  • Alphabet Soup, 1996 Classic winner (first in the Goodwood)
  • Elmhurst, 1997 Sprint winner (first in the Ancient Title)
  • Anees, 1999 Juvenile winner (third in the Norfolk)
  • Silic, 1999 Mile winner (first in the Oak Tree Mile)
  • War Chant, 2000 Mile winner (first in the Oak Tree Mile)
  • Kona Gold, first in the 2000 Sprint (first in the Ancient Title)
  • Tiznow, 2000 Classic winner (first in the Goodwood)
  • Val Royal, 2001 Mile winner (first in the Oak Tree Mile)
  • Tiznow, 2001 Classic winner (third in the Goodwood)
  • Azeri, 2002 Distaff winner (first in the Lady's Secret)
  • Adoration, 2003 Distaff winner (third in the Lady's Secret)
  • Halfbridled, 2003 Juvenile Fillies winner (first in the Oak Leaf)
  • Action This Day, 2003 Juvenile winner (maiden winner)
  • Johar, 2003 Turf winner in a dead heat (second in the Clement Hirsch)
  • Pleasantly Perfect, 2003 Classic winner (first in the Goodwood)
  • Sweet Catomine, 2004 Juvenile Fillies winner (first in the Oak Leaf)
  • Singletary, 2004 Mile winner (third in the Oak Tree Mile)
  • Thor's Echo, 2006 Sprint winner (second in the Ancient Title)
  • Stardom Bound, 2008 Juvenile Fillies winner (first in the Oak Leaf)
  • Zenyatta, 2008 Ladies Classic winner (first in the Lady's Secret)
  • Desert Code, 2008 Turf Sprint winner (seventh in the Morvich)
  • Albertus Maximus, 2008 Dirt Mile winner (third in the Goodwood)
  • Midshipman, 2008 Juvenile winner (second in the Norfolk)
  • Life Is Sweet, 2009 Ladies' Classic winner (fourth in the Lady's Secret)
  • California Flag, 2009 Turf Sprint winner (first in the Morvich)
  • Dancing in Silks, 2009 Sprint winner (first in the California Cup Sprint)
  • Zenyatta, 2009 Classic winner (first in the Lady's Secret)
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