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The Breeders’ Cup hails as the most prestigious horse race in the world, and this year, the event will head to the historic Del Mar Racetrack in Del Mar, Calif., on Nov. 3-4 (with $28 million to be paid out in purses over the course of the weekend) following the Triple Crown races that take place in May and June.
“Anybody and everybody who has ever been to Del Mar appreciates and loves the racetrack,” Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens tells The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s the only racetrack close to the ocean, and the racing is great.” Stevens, who boasts 11 Breeders’ Cup victories and appeared in the film Seabiscuit (alongside fellow racing enthusiast Elizabeth Banks) as well as on HBO’s Luck, calls Del Mar the survivalist of California racing.
“Where The Turf Meets the Surf,” as the Del Mar track is affectionately known, boasts a uniquely intimate, curated experience as it only holds 37,500 fans. Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif., welcomed more than 118,000 visitors over the 2016 Breeders’ Cup weekend, with 72,811 attending — including such stars as Banks, Susan Sarandon, Emily Ratajkowski, Wilmer Valderrama and Constance Zimmer — to see local favorite Calfornia Chrome come in second to Arrogate on Nov. 5. Says Breeders’ Cup CEO Craig Fravel of the move to Del Mar: “This a very special year for me as well and a bit of a homecoming, as Del Mar is where I launched my career in the industry.” He spoke to THR about what fans can expect at the event — on and off the track.
Will Del Mar be able to draw the kind of sexy celebrity crowd you had at Santa Anita?
This is the first year we’ll be hosting Breeders’ Cup at Del Mar, and while it may not be as close to Hollywood as Santa Anita, it is certainly a destination with quite a bit of celebrity appeal. And the new luxury seating options we’re creating for the event will definitely be a draw.
Will the world’s richest racehorse, Arrogate, be defending his 2016 win in the Breeders’ Cup Classic?
Arrogate is an amazing horse that seems to be improving with each start. It was just announced that he will be heading overseas to the Dubai World Cup, and we are hopeful that he can stay healthy throughout the year and return to defend his title in the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Given $4.5 million was invested into the fan experience, what can attendees expect at Del Mar?
The investment will be seen in every facet of the fan experience, including the two luxury chalets at the west end of the track seating a total of 1,900 people; a full renovation of Turf Club luxury suites; and a new state-of-the-art video board replacing the electronics in place at present.
What are some of the events that will lead up to the race?
We’re working closely with the local Breeders’ Cup Host Committee and the Del Mar, Solana Beach and San Diego communities to curate special experiences, from a 5K beach race and local concerts and entertainment to a golf tournament at Torrey Pines, home of the 2008 U.S. Open. We want to encourage our fans from around the world to come to town for the week and get a real feel for the locale — the destination is an important part of the Breeders’ Cup experience.
What do you have for fans looking for a VIP experience?
We’re creating 2,700 new, premium hospitality seating options, including the two temporary Trackside Luxury Chalets and temporary box seats. We also wanted to enhance the Infield experience and are creating The Beach, a fully sanded area on the inside rail with umbrellas, a video screen and a private bar.
Tickets for the event go on sale Monday. For more information, click here.
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