By Josh Cook
For the first time in consecutive years, and for a record eighth time, the 2011 Breeders' Cup World Championships will be held at Churchill Downs it was announced Friday morning .
The racetrack will host the Super Bowl of thoroughbred racing on Nov. 5-6. This year will be the first in which Churchill has hosted the event in its current two-day format. It will mark the first time that Churchill will utilize its new permanent lights (which will be used for the first time at tonight's "Downs After Dark" racing) for a major racing event, as races on both days of the Breeders' Cup will finish after sunset.
Next year's event will take place Nov. 4-5 and be televised on ABC/ESPN.
"The return of the Breeders' Cup for a second consecutive year in 2011 is good news for Kentucky and Churchill Downs as it underscores the importance of the event and our track to life and the economic vitality in our state and region," Churchill Downs President and CEO Robert Evans said. "Nearly a half-million fans from around the world have witnessed some of racing's most dramatic moments during the record six previous visits by the Breeders' Cup to our historic track. From its first stop in 1988, the Breeders' Cup at Churchill Downs has been on of our industry's greatest celebrations and its return in 2011 provides another wonderful economic development opportunity for our city, state and region. We are pleased to welcome the two-day Breeders' Cup championship in 2011 to complete its first back-to-back visits to Churchill Downs and our city."
Churchill previously hosted the Breeders' Cup in 1988, 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000 and 2006. The prior six runnings have averaged 73,556 fans with a Cup-record, single-day crowd of 80,452 in 1998. The 2006 Cup drew 76,132 fans to Churchill.
"I am thrilled that Kentucky's iconic Churchill Downs, home of the legendary Kentucky Derby, has been selected to host the 2011 Breeders' Cup World Championships," Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear said. "The 28th Breeders' Cup will mark a record eight times that Churchill has hosted the Breeders' Cup and will be the first time it has hosted this prestigious race for two consecutive years. Jane and I congratulate Churchill Downs on this accomplishment and we look forward to joining the thousands of spectators who will attend these events."
With Churchill's history of high attendance numbers, as well as the recent addition of permanent lights that will allow for night racing at the track, even the casual horse-racing fan has to wonder...when will Churchill be named the permanent home of the Breeders' Cup?