LEXINGTON, Ky. (November 12, 2014) – The 31st running of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Santa Anita Park was bolstered by increased attendance, television ratings, on-line engagement, new sponsors and outstanding competition from the world’s best horses.
A crowd of 61,114 was on hand Saturday for the second day of the Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita bringing the two-day total attendance to 98,319, four percent higher than the 2013 two-day attendance of 94,628. The total attendance is a Breeders’ Cup record at Santa Anita since the expansion to a two-day event.
The Breeders’ Cup hour in primetime on NBC (8-9 p.m. ET), punctuated by Bayern’s nose victory over Toast of New York in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, averaged 2.6 million viewers, a 24% increase over 2013. Combined 2014 Breeders’ Cup coverage on NBC/NBCSN averaged 599,000 viewers, up 33% year over year. The event reached a total audience of 5.8 million through its three telecasts on Friday and Saturday, up 37% from 2013.
NBC Sports and Breeders’ Cup announced a 10-year contract extension two days prior to the Breeders’ Cup which will keep the two-day Championships on NBC and NBCSN through 2025.
There were at total of 159 starters in the 13 Breeders’ Cup races, an incredible average of 12.2 per race, including 26 from overseas. The 159 starters were the second highest in the event’s history behind the 173 horses at Churchill Downs in 2012 when 15 Breeders’ Cup races were carded.
“Based on a range of positive metrics for the event including strong field sizes, increased participation by horsemen on an international scale, increased television ratings and sponsorship revenue, we feel good about the 31st running of the Breeders’ Cup and look forward to what’s next,” said Breeders’ Cup President and CEO Craig Fravel. “As we move forward on our three year host site plan with our first visit to the iconic grounds of Keeneland next year, we will continue to focus on world-class championship horse racing and creating the best possible experience for our guests, our sponsors, our participants and people watching and wagering from home and other locations around the world.”
After Keeneland in 2015, Breeders’ Cup will return to Santa Anita in 2016 and then visit another first-time host venue, Del Mar, in 2017.
With all-sources and international pools reporting, total wagering on the two-day Breeders’ Cup program, including the undercard races, was $159.1 million, the fourth highest in Breeders’ Cup history. Total wagering on the 13 Breeders’ Cup races was $135.5 million, up 1.1% compared to the corresponding 13 Breeders’ Cup races from last year at Santa Anita. Wagering on this year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic, the event’s marquee race, was $28,776,535, a 15% increase over the 2013 Classic betting of $25,116,192.
The total handle of $159.1 million, as compared to 2013 when there were 14 Breeders’ Cup races, was 2.7% lower. Breeders’ Cup officials discontinued the Breeders’ Cup Marathon as a Championship race in 2014 due to concerns that the overall quality of the race was not consistent with the event’s standards. In addition to one less Breeders’ Cup race in 2014, two turf races on the Saturday undercard were moved to the main track due to heavy overnight rain, resulting in 15 scratches and an approximately $3 million loss in handle compared to the same races in 2013.
The 2014 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge also experienced a record-breaking year. For the first time, racing’s largest live money tournament featured participation from satellite wagering sites, as Keeneland and Aqueduct hosted BCBC players. Of the 287 players, 252 played at Santa Anita, 19 at Keeneland and 16 from Aqueduct. The total wagering by the 287 players was an all-time record of $3,929,000 million in contest wagers. This figure does not include non-contest wagering by participants. A total of $3.425 million was from 252 tournament players at Santa Anita, which comprised 17% of the on-track handle at the racetrack over the two days of the Championships. The Santa Anita participants wagered an average of nearly $13,600 per player. The tournament winner, Robert Traynor of Oceanside, Calif., collected a first place prize of $301,000.
Breeders’ Cup also added four new race sponsors in 2014 to its total list of 20 marketing and promotional partners for the 2014 Championships headed by Longines, which sponsored the Breeders’ Cup Distaff and the Breeders’ Cup Turf. DraftKings, the popular daily fantasy sports website, sponsored the Filly & Mare Sprint; 14 Hands Winery was the name in-title sponsor of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. Sentient Jet sponsored the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Xpressbet returned this year to sponsor the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority was also a new sponsor with the Las Vegas Marathon on the Friday undercard.
The official Breeders’ Cup website, www.breederscup.com, also made gains over the prior year, with a 20% increase in visitor sessions, a 19% increase in unique visitors and a 28% rise in total page views over 2013 during Breeders’ Cup week (Oct 27-Nov.2).