A first for Del Mar: The Breeder's Cup is coming

DEL MAR, Calif. - The Breeders' Cup World Championship will be held in Del Mar in 2017 for the first time in the races' 30-year history, it was announced Tuesday.

The prestigious thoroughbred races will also be held for the first time at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Ky., next year. In 2016, the races will return to this year's location, Santa Anita Park in the Los Angeles suburb of Arcadia, Breeders' Cup officials said.

Del Mar, the local seaside venue where the surf meets the turf, is set to host the event Nov. 3-4, 2017, pending state approval, according to racing officials.

"We've had many wonderful racing events and thousands of special racing people be part of our rich history at Del Mar," Del Mar President and CEO Joe Harper said. "But bringing the Breeders' Cup horses, horsemen and their worldwide fans to our seaside showplace in 2017 just might be our show of shows."

What makes the two-day event unique is that horses come in from all over the world.

"It's the best of the best, and they're all going to be here in 2017," Harper said. "This is really, for us, a dream come true."

But the biggest win may be for the local economy, as 75,000 to 100,000 people are expected to turn out and they'll pack some decent-sized pocketbooks.

"The people who come for Breeder's Cup who own these horses, they're quite a group," Harper said. "They're some of the wealthiest people in the world, and they're not coming for two days, they'll come for a week."

His ballpark estimate is that they'll support the city to the tune of $70 million during their stay.

This year's series of Thoroughbred races will be held Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 at Santa Anita Park. The 2016 races will push the Los Angeles County racetrack ahead of Churchill Downs into a record nine times as host.

Breeders' Cup officials said Del Mar would be a good fit.

"We are very pleased to announce Del Mar as a first time host site for the 2017 Breeders' Cup World Championships," said Craig Fravel, President and CEO of Breeders' Cup Ltd. "Over the years, Del Mar has established an extraordinary reputation for outstanding racing, entertainment and first-class hospitality. We are excited by the energy and support of the local San Diego community and their efforts to make the 2017 World Championships one of most successful in our history."

Del Mar was in the running to host the 2016 races, but concerns arose over holding the event at new venues two years in a row, U-T San Diego reported.

The Del Mar racetrack has installed a new turf course and will replace its synthetic Polytrack with a dirt surface over the next year, according to the Los Angeles Times.

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