Santa Anita to host 2012 Breeders’ Cup

The Breeders’ Cup will hold a luncheon Wednesday at L.A. Live to confirm one of the worst-kept secrets in horse racing in recent years — that the 2012 Breeders’ Cup will be held at Santa Anita.

This year’s Breeders’ Cup will be Nov. 4-5 at Churchill Downs. Dates for the 2012 Breeders’ Cup, while not yet announced, are likely to be Friday and Saturday, Nov. 2-3.

Several racing officials acknowledged Friday, without wanting to be named, that Santa Anita beat out Churchill Downs and Belmont Park for next year’s event. It will mark the sixth time the lucrative and prestigious show will be held at Santa Anita, which most recently held it in 2008 and 2009, to rave reviews.

It is no secret that the weather in California in November gives tracks here an edge in the selection process over the Eastern tracks.

The Breeders’ Cup annually offers more than $25 million in purses over two days of racing, with no single purse less than $500,000 and the main race, the Breeders’ Cup Classic, worth $5 million.


The event gained additional interest the last two years with the running of super-mare Zenyatta. The Jerry and Ann Moss horse became the first female to win the Classic in its 25-year history with her spine-tingling dash to the wire at Santa Anita in 2009. Last year at Churchill Downs, entering with a 19-0 record and with interest worldwide at a peak, Zenyatta’s closing rush fell inches short to a horse named Blame.

After the ’08 and ’09 events at Santa Anita, both run during the fall dates of the Oak Tree Racing Assn.'s meeting, the Breeders’ Cup board had leaned toward making Santa Anita a semipermanent site for the event. But that got caught up in the politics of racing, when Santa Anita’s owner, Frank Stronach, declined to renew Oak Tree’s lease, leaving it with racing dates and limited choices as to where to use them.

Eventually, Stronach and Santa Anita took over the Oak Tree fall dates and positioned themselves for a return of the Breeders’ Cup to the Los Angeles area. Santa Anita’s new autumn meeting this year will run from Sept. 30 through Nov. 6, meaning a huge boost for the track’s handle, with its off-track action on the Breeders’ Cup supplementing its live racing on the Nov. 4-5 weekend.

Whether Santa Anita once again becomes the subject of discussion for a semipermanent Breeders’ Cup site remains to be seen.