Breeders’ Cup to return to Del Mar in 2024 for a third engagement

Horses near the finish line in a ground-level view of a race with grandstand in the background at Del Mar
Joel Rosario rides Knicks Go to victory during the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 6, 2021, at Del Mar.
(Gregory Bull / Associated Press)

The Breeders’ Cup will be held in Southern California for the second straight time next year when the two-day event returns to Del Mar on Nov. 1-2. The announcement was made by the Breeders’ Cup on Thursday. It will be held this year at Santa Anita on Nov. 3-4.

The move was not a surprise as the group has fallen into a cycle of Santa Anita, Del Mar, Churchill Downs and Keeneland alternating in various orders. Santa Anita has hosted the event 10 times and Del Mar twice. The first time it was held at Del Mar was 2017 and its success allowed the event to return in 2021. One mitigating factor about Del Mar is its slightly smaller size compared to the cavernous Santa Anita. But as racetracks have become smaller, in many cases driven by casino play being the primary business, the options to hold the Breeders’ Cup have dwindled.

With the upcoming renovation of Belmont Park, it is expected that the Breeders’ Cup would eventually return to the New York track for the first time since 2005. But that could take up to five years.


“Breeders’ Cup has always been a strong supporter of California racing and we look forward to showcasing the wonderful venue once again to our horsemen and fans from around the world,” said Drew Fleming, president and chief executive of the group.

Trainer Bob Baffert’s attempt to run horses in this year’s Kentucky Derby was shot down when a court denied his request for a preliminary injunction.

Feb. 17, 2023

The Breeders’ Cup is made up of 14 Grade 1 races, all worth at least $1 million. The purses are built from nominations of horses and stallions from the day a horse is foaled. The business model of horse racing is such that breeding has become more important, and lucrative, than racing horses.

Last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic winner, the Santa Anita-based Flightline, was retired after only six races over two years because of his value as a stallion. Of the eight horses that ran in the $6-million Classic, the richest race in the United States, six have been retired to stallion duty. Only Taiba, who runs Saturday in the Saudi Cup, and Rich Strike, winner of last year’s Kentucky Derby, are still racing.