Churchill Downs announced Sunday it will be holding a news conference Monday morning “regarding an important future horse racing event” to be held at the Louisville track. Though the news release offered little in the way of details, it is widely believed the news conference will involve Churchill Downs being a named the host track for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships in 2018.
The Breeders’ Cup — which was hosted by Keeneland for the first time in that track’s history this past October — is set to be held at Santa Anita Park this year and Del Mar in 2017. Churchill Downs has hosted the Breeders’ Cup eight times and holds the records for the largest single-day and two-day attendance for the event, but has not been part of the rotation since 2011.
Tensions between officials from Churchill Downs and Breeders’ Cup Ltd. has been speculated as a reason behind the hiatus, but both parties have denied a rift. Last summer, a couple of signs emerged signaling that relations between the two parties were indeed heading in a positive direction.
Last August, it was announced that the points for the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile would be doubled for the 2015-16 Road to the Kentucky Derby — the series of 35 select races that helps determine which horses will qualify for the 142nd Kentucky Derby on May 7. That news came down just days after the announcement that Breeders’ Cup and CDI-owned TwinSpires.com had reached a multi-year agreement to make the online and mobile betting platform the official wagering partner of the Breeders’ Cup and the title sponsor of the $1.5 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint.
When asked last August about the potential of the Breeders’ Cup returning to Churchill Downs in the near future, Breeders’ Cup President and CEO Craig Fravel dismissed the notion Churchill Downs was ever out of the host site picture.
“I would say the path has always been clear for Churchill to host Breeders’ Cup in terms of eligibility interest and all that,” Fravel told the Herald-Leader last summer. “I don’t think this necessarily reflects any kind of change of relationship between the two of us. I just think it’s a very positive move recognizing the importance of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
“Ever since I’ve been here, which is 2011, I’ve felt like our relationship with Churchill Downs is good.”
Churchill Downs racetrack president Kevin Flanery and Louisville mayor Greg Fischer are among the guests stated to attend the Monday announcement.