The horses are approaching the starting gate. The horses are loaded. And they’re off in the five million dollar Breeders’ Cup Classic!
This year was the 30th annual Breeders’ Cup World Championships. This two day event was held at Santa Anita Racetrack in Arcadia, California. Even though the event location changes every year, it has been held at Santa Anita six times and will be held there again next year.
There are a total of 14 races between the two days. Though all of the races are significant, the most are the Breeders’ Cup Classic and the Breeders’ Cup Distaff.
The greatest horses and jockeys participate in the Breeders’ Cup Championships. Some notable horses are Zenyatta, who has the record for highest earnings , and Curlin, one of the greatest of our generation.
The second strongest athletes on the track are the jockeys. Jockeys come from all over the world to ride these world class horses. The jockey with the highest earnings from the Breeders’ Cup races is Mike Smith, who has the most Breeders’ Cup wins, including three this year alone.
This year, Beholder won the Distaff with renowned jockey Gary Stevens, who has recently returned from a six year retirement. She also won the Juvenile Fillies race in 2012. Also under Gary Stevens, Mucho Macho Man won the Classic this year after coming in second last year with jockey Mike Smith. All races and results are located on the Official Breeders’ Cup website.
The Breeders’ Cup is about more than races. Just like the Kentucky Derby in May, hats and fascinators are traditions that are optional, but extremely popular amongst horse racing fans.
Food is an important part of the race day festivities. Presented by NBC, Taste of LA brings together snippets of LA cuisine to enhance the Breeders’ Cup experience, setting up a total of nine booths in Seabiscuit Court
Food trucks from all over Southern California come and set up in the infiend, and varied musicians attract different crowds to the event. This year, even Grammy winner Kristin Chenoweth performed. She also sang the Breeders’ Cup theme song for the track and TV audience before the Classic.
On a personal note, this was my third year attending the Breeders’ Cup World Championships. In 2010, my family traveled to Churchill Downs in Kentucky, known as the “home of Thoroughbred racing.” Every year I appreciate the experience even more.
The evolution of the sport keeps bringing me back. Equine sports around the country are trying to broaden their audiences, just as our Archer equestrian team is. Horse racing is like a party: the more people there are, the more fun it is. It has become one of my family’s traditions.
After 30 years, the Breeders’ Cup World Championship has been an unforgettable weekend for spectators and race lovers from all over the world. As the traditions continue and horses win, the sport of Thoroughbred racing will continue to bring cultures and families together.
Featured Phototgraph: Breeders’ Cup Championship horses out of the starting gate. Photographer: Vivian Riddick