The yearly equine event drove the economic impact to $100 million last time it made its way to Del Mar back in 2017. And the Breeders’ Cup returning to the seaside oval last weekend became even stronger and more powerful than four years ago.
The North Coast communities of Solana Beach and Del Mar where the racetrack sits were the beneficiaries, on many different fronts. What a week!
The week began on Monday, prior to Del Mar opening for its Bing Crosby season two days later. The post-position draw was held in Del Mar Racetrack’s paddock, where all equines and connections got a chance to see what post position they drew.
All 15 Breeders Cup races’ post positions were drawn and were televised internationally over TVG (the racing television channel) and streamed over a number of platforms.
Wednesday and Thursday were warm-up days for trainers jockeys and fans. Del Mar held eight races on both days leading into Friday. You could feel the vibe very quickly early on. The Breeders’ Cup was on the muscle and they were bringing its core audience.
Friday was approaching quickly. After launching 10 races with six California Stakes and four Breeders’ Cup races, it seemed that Day 1 was a sight that only could be described as beautiful until the last and final race: Race 10.
Upon loading the 12 runners in Friday’s final Breeders’ Cup race, horse No. 2 flipped upside down in the starting stall and was caught lying in a very odd position under the gate. Crews tried to pry the fallen horse free, opening the neighboring gate of horse No. 1.
In a matter of seconds, both No. 1 and No. 2 horses were declared scratches, and confusion set in as both horses went off the betting boards and platforms with zero betting interests.
Then came the announcement that horse No. 1 would run for purse money only. And that’s what he did, going on to win both the race and purse! But every bettor who wagered on this horse was left with nothing but a winning horse that didn’t payout.
This damaged a truly wonderful week of racing and events to celebrate the second coming of the Breeders’ Cup and spoiled a vibe for Saturday that would be off the charts with magnified support around the world.
Still, Saturday was quite anticipated and it became clear from early on that this day had something very special written on it. We saw track records set. Japan won two major races! And one runner paid more than $100.00 for a $2 win ticket. Exactas, trifectas and superfectas were paying big and betting pools eclipsed $4 million dollars.
Outside of the miscue, this Breeders’ Cup was ultra-successful for the city and region. Coastal and surrounding restaurants did maximum business. Some restaurants that have never had a wait were posting two-hour wait times.
Visitors came with both hands, spending and wagering during the week of a lifetime. They dined, drank and rang up the registers. They brought their money and spent it.
Safety issues were met for the horses. The ’21 Breeders’ Cup was magical.
Next year, the Breeders’ Cup is off to Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Kentucky. But with rotations over the years, the event will possibly find its way back to Del Mar by 2025.
The excitement, energy and venue in Del Mar are unmatched. No figures are in officially as of yet, but my eyeballs weren’t lying to me. This year was way better in so many ways from 2017. And the economic impact this event had will most likely be far north of $100 million for our communities.
Living its moniker .. America’s Finest City .. is the best venue to land a Breeders’ Cup
Catch us on the radio for Race & Sports Radio at 9 a.m. on Saturday at The Mightier 1090 AM.