On Friday June 11, Churchill Downs management and Kentucky governor Steve Beshear announced that the 2011 Breeders' Cup World Championships have been awarded to the historic Louisville oval. Churchill will also host the event this year. The 2001 Championships will be held Friday November 4 and Saturday November 5. More that $26 million in purses will be up for grabs over the 2-day event, televised on ABC/ESPN to more than 130 countries.
Also on hand for the announcement were Breeders' Cup Chairman William S. Farish Jr., Breeders' Cup President and Chief Executive Officer Greg Avioli, Churchill Downs Incorporated President and Chief Executive Officer Robert Evans, Bill Carstanjen, Chief Operating Officer of Churchill Downs, Inc., and Churchill Downs Racetrack President Kevin Flanery.
The 28th Breeders' Cup will mark a record 8th time that the Championships will be held at Churchill Downs, having been run there in 1988, 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2006, and this year. The first 6 runnings have had an average attendance of 73,556, with an all-time single day Breeders' Cup crowd of 80,452 at the 1998 event. The 2006 event set the all-time Breeders' Cup records for single day on-track handle, $18,259,971, and the total worldwide single day wagering mark of $140,332,198. Over the past 4 years, the Breeders' Cup World Championships has expanded from 8 to 14 races with total purses increasing from $14 million to $26 million. This year's Breeders' Cup will be the first in which both days of the Championships will finish under lights.
Governor Beshear said, "I am thrilled that Kentucky's iconic Churchill Downs, home of the legendary Kentucky Derby, has been selected to host the 2011 Breeders' Cup World Championships. The 28th Breeders Cup will mark a record 8 times that Churchill has hosted the Breeders' Cup and will be the first time it has hosted this prestigious race for 2 consecutive years. Jane and I congratulate Churchill Downs on this accomplishment and we look forward to joining the thousands of spectators who will attend these events."
Farish said, "The prospect of consecutive years at Churchill Downs combined with Kentucky's strong business climate and legislative incentives are sure to make the event a tremendous success for the Breeders' Cup, greater Louisville and the state. Churchill Downs continues to be one of the world's greatest racing facilities, and is extremely popular with our horsemen and fans. We are enjoying an excellent relationship with Bob Evans and the Churchill management team. On behalf of our Board and Trustees and the racing and breeding industry which benefit the Breeders' Cup, we appreciate Churchill's continued enthusiasm and support in extending our relationship for the 2011 World Championships."
Evans added, "The return of the Breeders' Cup for a second consecutive year in 2011 is good news for Kentucky and Churchill Downs as it underscores the importance of the event and our track to life and the economic vitality in our state and region. Nearly a half-million fans from around the world have witnessed some of racing's most dramatic moments during the record 6 previous visits by the Breeders' Cup to our historic track. From its first stop in 1988, the Breeders' Cup at Churchill Downs has been one of our industry's greatest celebrations and its return in 2011 provides another wonderful economicdevelopment opportunity for our city, state and region. We are pleased to welcome the 2-day Breeders' Cup championship in 2011 to complete its first back-to-back visits to Churchill Downs and our city."