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Breeders’ Cup World Championship began Friday at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California with five stakes races. Hall of Fame jockeys, Gary Stevens and Michael Smith made their presence known.
Since its inception 30 years ago, the Breeder’s Cup has grown from a
7 race, $10 million day, to a 14 race, $25 million two day global event and has established itself as the season ending championship in Thoroughbred racing. Some have even referred to it as the “Super Bowl” of the sport
of horse racing.
Breeders’ Cup horse racing at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California
The Breeders’ Cup has earned the reputation of an international event. The 2012 Breeders’ Cup, also hosted at Santa Anita Park, featured 162 horses, including 27 from outside of the United States. Numerous winners in the 29th Breeders’ Cup had been bred and/or had raced in such places as Canada, Ireland, France and Argentina. U.S. horses included runners from California, New York, Kentucky and Florida.
Held at various major racetracks throughout the United States, Santa Anita Park is one of the most popular and has played host to the Breeders Cup 7 times, most recently in 2012, 2013 and next year in 2014. Perhaps it is the beautiful California weather, setting, and people or maybe it is the quality and excitement of the racing, but it seems both international equine competitors and racing fans are drawn to the Breeders’ Cup when it is held at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia.
Movie icon and Breeders’ Cup Ambassador Bo Derek, shares the spotlight in the Winners Circle at the Breeders’ Cup on Friday.
One of the stake races that stood out on Friday was the $2 million Distaff, wherein two time consecutive Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic winner, Royal Delta, was up against 3-year-olds, Princess of Sylmar and Beholder. Princess of Sylmar had earlier this year beaten Royal Delta in a race at Belmont Park and Beholder was last year’s champion 2 year old filly. Ridden by 50 year old legendary jockey, Gary Stevens, Beholder ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:47.77and won the race by 4 ¼ lengths. Royal Delta finished fourth and Princess of Sylmar, finished last in the field of six. Stevens, a racing Hall of Famer, continues to live up to his name and reputation having won the most recent Preakness Stakes and has won 9 Cups since 2000.
Another Hall of Famer jockey, 48 year old Mike Smith, won two of the five Cup races on Friday and will be riding one of the expected favorites “Game On Dude” in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic on Saturday.
Brother and sister jockeys and competitors Jesiere and Luis Median share a moment following Luis Medina’s win on So Big Is Better in the President of the United Arab Emirates Cup Invitational race at Santa Anita Park on Friday.