Thoroughbred racing is ending the year on a high note. While most entertainment activities were eliminated or curtailed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic during 2020, the one major sporting event that continued with the least disruption was Thoroughbred horseracing. Though the Triple Crown races were not held in their usual order, all three races were held and turned out to be outstanding, thrilling competitions. Almost every major stakes race took place—most right on schedule.
Many other exciting, dramatic horseracing stories developed during the year, leaving us with some real cliffhangers: will Maximum Security ever get his $3.5 million first prize for winning the Saudi Cup; will Kentucky ban or allow Historic Horseracing machines; will more states and nations ban or restrict the use of whips by jockeys?
As the year draws to a close, the grand Breeders' Cup Championship Series stands ready to crown 14 victors in its two-day meet, November 6-7, at Keeneland Race Track in Lexington, Kentucky. Still, as much as this championship series is a culmination of a super year for Thoroughbred horseracing, more than anything, what racing fans and horsemen everywhere feel is a sense of anticipation.
All the Breeders' Cup juvenile races will stoke trainers and owners to position their Thoroughbreds for the next year's derbies and stakes races. Tickets for the major racing events, including the Kentucky Derby and the Breeders' Cup, are already on sale—a clear indication that tracks and racing authorities anticipate full grandstands in 2021. And the deep fields, close stakes races, and intense personal competitions have already stirred many race lovers to look ahead to November 5-6, 2021.
While Keeneland Race Track will do a superb job of hosting the 2020 Breeders' Cup—especially in light of the pandemic, Del Mar has several natural advantages. First of all, the track has the capacity to hold 44,000 race fans, 5.5 times Keeneland's total. Track capacity didn't count for much in 2020 when the grandstands at every track were deserted. In 2021, however, fans will likely flock to see live racing and especially the Breeders' Cup, the greatest meet in the world. Second, the seaside setting of Del Mar, just north of San Diego, is incredibly temperate year-round. The chances of a sloppy track or weather extremes are negligible. Del Mar seems to be the ideal spot in the racing world to celebrate the answers to all the Thoroughbred horseracing questions posed throughout 2020.
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