Breeders' Cup Expands 2014 Events to Lure Hollywood to Santa Anita Park

Todd Williamson/Invision for Breeders' Cup/AP Images
Elizabeth Banks

The Breeders' Cup is billed as the richest two days in sports, with $26 million in prize money at stake

The Breeders’ Cup — scheduled for Oct. 31-Nov. 1 at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif. — is making a big push to be an event destination for Hollywood.

The 13 races that comprise the Breeders’ Cup — billed as the richest two days in sports (with horses competing for $26 million in prize money) — are scheduled over two days at the recently renovated park. Confirmed to attend the 2014 event are Mel Brooks, Kristin Chenoweth, Eric Roth, John Cho, Michael Weatherly, Simon Baker, Jennifer Tilly, Richie Sambora and more. Also expected to turn up are the Breeders' Cup celebrity ambassadors including Bobby Flay, Rob Dyrdek, Elizabeth Banks, Jim Rome, Bo Derek, Laura Bell Bundy and others.

Flay and Dyrdek are among an impressive list of bold-faced names who also own horses, along with MGM’s Gary Barber, Warner Bros.’ Kevin Tsujihara and Joe Torre, Toby Keith, Elizabeth Hurley, Wes Welker and Theory’s Andrew Rosen.

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“Having the races at Santa Anita is a big benefit; it’s in the backyard of Hollywood,” said Breeders’ Cup vp media entertainment Peter Rotondo. “The new management at Santa Anita has upgraded the facility dramatically with new suites, which are virtually on top of the track. It’s the most VIP you can get.”

Well, sort of. Rotondo also mentioned another perk of the park that should be attractive to industryites — a hidden speakeasy with its own passcode in the back for “super VIP guests.” The recently renovated Chandelier Room is also a big draw for guests, described by Rotondo as “amazing, like a throwback to the days of old Hollywood.”

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Other draws include VIP lounges, suites and experiences including: The Trophy Lounge, with private purple-carpet entrance and betting windows; Taste of Napa Valley, with chefs Morimoto and Michael Chiarello operating cooking stations preparing cuisine to be paired with Napa wines; The View, with private bars and betting windows; and the In-Field, with live music, pop-up beer gardens and top L.A. food trucks.

The 2014 event marks the third year in a row that the Breeders’ Cup has taken place at Santa Anita. However, the race moves to Kentucky in 2015 before returning to L.A. and Santa Anita in 2016. “It’s a big social event — that’s what it’s all about,” Rotondo added, noting that the time difference between races gives ticket-holders a chance to eat, drink and watch horses prepare all the while enjoying the scenic backdrop. “The weather is perfect, and there’s a reason so many movies have been filmed at the beautiful Santa Anita — it’s like a movie set.”

The final race of the weekend — the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic — will be shown on primetime on NBC on Nov. 1.