The Breeders' Cup rode Zenyatta all the way to the bank: Betting, TV ratings and attendance all were up last weekend for the Thoroughbred championships.
The two days of racing at Churchill Downs highlighted top race mare Zenyatta's quest to win back-to-back Classics and remain undefeated.
She lost her big race by a head, but the Z factor pushed interest in the races to new heights, Breeders' Cup officials said Tuesday.
"We experienced unprecedented levels of media coverage and are looking at record levels of revenue and our highest television rating in nearly 15 years, thanks in large part to the phenomenon that is Zenyatta," Breeders' Cup President Greg Avioli said.
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The preliminary TV rating for the last hour of the Classic shown on ESPN, from 6:15 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. Eastern time, was 3.1, up 182 percent compared with the same hour of 2009's race.
The two-day betting handle, including foreign and exchange wagering in the United Kingdom, was $196.4 million.
Excluding exchange betting, two-day handle was up 13 percent over 2009 levels to $173.3 million, officials said.
For Saturday, which culminated in Zenyatta's quest, betting was up 23 percent to $118.6 million, with Saturday's on-track handle (betting at Churchill) up 19 percent to $14.5 million.
Attendance was up 18.5 percent across the two days, with 114,353 people coming to the track on Friday and Saturday. Saturday's attendance of 72,739 was 23.6 percent higher than the 58,845 recorded at Santa Anita the year before.
The Breeders' Cup also gave horse racing a big push in social media, rolling out iPhone and iPad apps in the weeks before the championships, and giving Zenyatta her own Twitter handle.
Race-loving celebrities including actresses Elizabeth Banks and Alyssa Milano, and football players Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens tweeted or messaged millions of fans on Facebook about the races.