Breeders’ Cup sets record for ticket sales

November 8, 2010

The Breeders’ Cup, which began Friday at Churchill Downs in Louisville, has hit a new record for ticket sales and expects to set records for attendance as well, said Breeders’ Cup President & CEO Greg Avioli.

“We have just gone over $10 million in sales and the previous record was $6.9 million in 2006,” Avioli said.

Avioli cited the return to Kentucky after five years as well as interest in undefeated mare Zenyatta, who will go for her 20th win in as many tries in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, the event’s finale at 6:45 p.m. Saturday, as reasons for the boost in sales. “It absolutely would be a positive thing for the sport of horse racing for Zenyatta to win this race and to move to 20 and 0,” Avioli said. “That type of publicity is exactly what the horse racing industry needs.”

Avioli said that the media attention the event has drawn is three to four times what it normally is because of the presence of Zenyatta, who has been featured on “60 Minutes” and in a “Sports Illustrated” story, among other media outlets. Avioli said he expects attendance at the two-day event to exceed 100,000. The previous record was 96,000 in 2009.

He predicted that wagering on the races in the two-day event would exceed $200M, up from $178M last year. One reason Avioli said he expects an increase is Churchill has a dirt main track whereas Santa Anita Park, the host of last year’s event, had a synthetic track. High roller horseplayers prefer to bet on dirt tracks, he said.