The Breeders Cup, Back in L.A. for the First Time in Three Years, Enters Day Two

Breeder's Cup Horse Race - H 2012
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Breeder's Cup Horse Race - H 2012

The prestigious thoroughbred horse racing event names eight celebrity ambassadors, including Joe Torre, who co-owns Game on Dude, considered the favorite to win tonight’s $5 million Breeder’s Cup Classic.

The Breeder’s Cup World Championships, which opened day one yesterday with six races, heads into its second and final day today with a series of nine races, culminating in the Breeder’s Cup Classic.

The horse-racing event has returned to L.A.’s Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif., for the first time in three years. This year, the Breeder’s Cup organization named eight celebrity ambassadors including Bo Derek, Toby Keith and Bobby Flay. The ambassadors were chosen because they have grown up around thoroughbred racing and have a love for the sport. “Breeders’ Cup weekend is marked on my calendar every year,” said ambassador Elizabeth Banks in a statement. “I grew up going to the races with my dad, and my love of the sport has only grown. The racing, the fashion, the beautiful tracks and the parties…the Breeders’ Cup has it all.”

The day culminates at 8:30 p.m. Eastern time with the Classic, with a payout of $5 million. Out of a field of 12 horses, Game on Dude, which is co-owned by baseball’s Joe Torre, is the favorite. The event will be broadcast on NBC, beginning at 8 p.m. Eastern, and includes a live performance by Tony Bennett.

On Friday, Zagora, a 5-year-old French-bred mare, won the $2 million Filly & Mare Turf. She beat two horses owned by Hollywood names: The Fugue, owned by Andrew Lloyd Webber, and In Lingerie, co-owned by MGM chairman and CEO Gary Barber. The Fugue entered as the 8-to-5 favorite but finished third after getting stuck along the rail.

John Hartig, CEO of Daily Racing Form, which covers horse racing, says the celebrity ambassador program is one way that the sport is working to change its image. “You see kind of a legacy that the sports is perceived as sort of old gamblers who are kind of skulking around the track. But if you look at our online demographics, the fan is typically now a 35- to 45-year-old male, well north of a $100,000 income and most of them are involved in other sports,” he tells THR.

Some of the key entrants Hartig recommends to look out for today are Point of Entry in the $3 million Turf race today and Game On Dude.