Santa Anita to host 2012 Breeders' Cup

As expected, Breeders' Cup Aug. 10 announced that Santa Anita Park in California will serve as the 2012 host site of the two-day World Championships.

Santa Anita hosted the event in 2008-09. The 2012 World Championships, set for Nov. 2-3, will be its sixth time as host site.

The announcement was made during a luncheon in Los Angeles. Breeders' Cup officials earlier said the 2012 host site would be selected from a pool of three tracks: Santa Anita, Belmont Park, and Churchill Downs.

Churchill will host the World Championships for the second consecutive year and record eighth time Nov. 4-5, 2011.

Breeders' Cup officials said Aug. 10 the decision "followed a lengthy review process by the Breeders' Cup Host Site Selection Committee." An announcement on the 2012 host site was said to be forthcoming in June, but it never materialized.

In early July published reports stated Santa Anita's selection was a done deal even though the New York Racing Association had made a pitch for Belmont to host the 2012 event.

"We are thrilled to bring back the Breeders' Cup to Southern California, which is always a strong draw for horse racing fans from around the world and where the Breeders' Cup has always been embraced by the community," Breeders' Cup president and chief executive officer Craig Fravel said in a statement. "Santa Anita Park is a world-class racing venue that will once again provide a spectacular setting for two days of the best in international racing."

Fravel, formerly of Del Mar, was hired as Breeders' Cup chief in July. He replaced Greg Avioli, who went to work for Stronach and is said to have lobbied hard for Santa Anita to get the Breeders' Cup.

"Hosting the Breeders' Cup is important to the California horse racing industry and it is an honor for Santa Anita to be chosen as host of the Breeders' Cup for the sixth time," said Frank Stronach, chairman of The Stronach Group, which owns Santa Anita. "Our team looks forward to the challenge of building on the success of 2008 and 2009 with the 2012 Breeders' Cup."

The Breeders' Cup was awarded to Santa Anita even though the track doesn't yet have the 2012 fall dates in Southern California. The California Horse Racing Board indicated those dates won't be awarded until this fall.

Santa Anita, as the Los Angeles Turf Club, will host the dates this year, but for decades Oak Tree Racing Association held the dates at Santa Anita.

NYRA president and CEO Charles Hayward indicated the association was prepared to host the 2012 World Championships.

"Congratulations to Santa Anita, but we are disappointed that Belmont Park was not selected to host the 2012 Breeders' Cup World Championships," Hayward said. "The event was most recently held at Belmont in 2005, and since then, two different tracks -- Churchill Downs and now Santa Anita -- have hosted the Breeders' Cup three times.

"We remain hopeful that Belmont will remain a serious option for the 2013 Breeders' Cup."

The Breeders' Cup generated more than $60 million in economic impact in the Los Angeles area in both 2008 and 2009, officials said.

Over the past five years the World Championships has experienced growth, expanding from eight to 15 races, increasing prize money from $14 million to $26 million, and growing total wagering from $140,332,198 to $173,339,131.