Commerce Lexington is proud to be an official partner of the Breeders’ Cup World Championship this year, giving us an opportunity to promote our city to thousands of people from around the nation and the world!
The Breeders’ Cup is a two-day series of Thoroughbred horse races, known as the world’s most prestigious international racing event. This year there will be 13 races with approximately $26 million in purses and awards. This is the first time the Breeders’ Cup has come to Keeneland and Commerce Lexington is ready to showcase our city.
The economic impact of the 2011 Breeders’ Cup in Louisville was $53.3 million and the economic impact of the 2013 Breeders’ Cup in Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California totaled $64.9 million, including $39.5 million in increased direct spending, and $2.9 million in local tax revenue.
Based on last year’s economic impact, the Breeders’ Cup is expected to bring $65 million to Lexington’s economy.
Although it is difficult to predict an event’s exact economic benefit based on previous occurrences at other locations, there is no reason to think that this year’s economic impact would be any less than in previous years. In fact, Lexington is celebrating the Breeders’ Cup with weeklong community events and activities to draw people into the city early and the economic impact may be much higher than expected.
Events began on Saturday, October 24th with the Feeders’ Cup, a food truck competition featuring vendors from around the tristate area. On Sunday, Lexington’s annual Thriller Parade drew a crowd downtown as 2,000 zombies performed, followed by Here Come the Mummies on the Kentucky Ale Stage. Monday was the Post Position Draw, and every attendee was greeted at the entrance by Commerce Lexington and banners promoting our city and Lexington’s achievements, such as being ranked #10 Best State for Doing Business, #8 Best Large City to Live In, and #16 Best Place for Business and Careers. Finally, the Prelude to the Cup was held on Thursday as Keeneland and the Breeders’ Cup tested logistics. Nine races were held during the Prelude and the winner of the Star Spangled Stakes singing contest performed.
Other Breeders’ Cup events and activities included art exhibits, horse farm tours, breakfasts at the track, and live music. In total, there were over 30 events, more than all other Breeders’ Cup cities’ events combined, with between 24,000 to 40,000 people expected each day, visiting Lexington’s local businesses and spending money that otherwise would not have entered our local economy.
Record breaking crowds are also expected at the races. Keeneland has 8,800 permanent seats and record attendance is 40,617, but Breeders’ Cup turnout tends to be over 50,000 daily. To accommodate this increase, Keeneland has built temporary structures and luxury chalets that add 15,000 seats, bringing the total to around 23,000 seats.
To encourage Breeders’ Cup to select Keeneland and return to Kentucky in the future, Gov. Beshear suspended the pari-mutuel tax on wagering at live races at Keeneland, a customary incentive offered by hosting locations. When the Breeders’ Cup was last held at Churchill Downs in Louisville, the total was estimated at $750,000, a small amount compared to the economic impact and additional economic activity and revenues the Breeders’ Cup will bring to Kentucky.
This substantial influx of visitors to Lexington is excellent news for our local economy. Visitors will be staying in our hotels, dining at locally owned restaurants, purchasing souvenirs, supporting the arts, touring horse farms, and learning more about Lexington everyday, helping to build and spread our reputation as a city with a vibrant culture, thriving businesses, and first class horses.
Speaking of horses, the contestants in the Breeders’ Cup are the best of the best, but two in particular stand out: American Pharoah and Beholder, both Lexingtonians in their early years. American Pharoah was born at Stockplace Farms in Lexington and lived in the Bluegrass Region for the first year of his life, and Beholder was bred by the Clarkland Farm in Lexington. Unfortunately, Beholder withdrew from the race on Thursday due to irritated lungs. Commerce Lexington wishes her a speedy recovery.
The Bluegrass Region and Lexington produce the best horses in the world. Of the 12 Triple Crown winners, five were born in Lexington and four were born elsewhere in the Bluegrass Region. Additionally, Kentucky has produced more Kentucky Derby Winners than any other state — 107 winners, or 77% were born in Kentucky, followed most closely by Florida with 6 horses.
Lexington’s horse industry and world-class Thoroughbred farms make Lexington an ideal location for the Breeders’ Cup. Beyond attending the races at the beautiful and historic Keeneland, visitors can truly experience every aspect of the horse industry by touring horse farms, attending farm events, touring the Kentucky Horse Park and the International Museum of the Horse, and seeing the birthplaces of Triple Crown winners like Sir Barton, War Admiral, Whirlaway, Citation, and American Pharoah.
Next Week — More about Lexington’s horse industry!