Del Mar takes big step to host Breeders' Cup
6:42 p.m., Feb. 4, 2012
Updated 8:45 a.m. , Feb. 5, 2012
DEL MAR — They are in the most preliminary stage of the process, but the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club has taken a big first step to host a Breeders’ Cup, the Super Bowl of horse racing held over two days every November.
Criaig Dado, DMTC’s vice president of marketing, confirmed that Del Mar was asked to complete and submit a “declaration of interest” by Feb. 1 if it wishes to host a future Breeders’ Cup. The event is set for Santa Anita this year in November, but future sites have not been picked. Dado said the earliest Del Mar could host the Breeders’ Cup would be 2015, but that’s providing a number of hurdles are cleared.
Dado said Del Mar officials answered the Breeders’ Cup inquiry with a 52-page document. Dado hand-delivered the package to Craig Fravel, the former president and general manager at Del Mar before moving on to be president and CEO of the Breeders’ Cup Ltd. They were in Boston Tuesday in the owner’s box at Fenway Park to meet with the marketing agency, Conover Tuttle Pace, the Boston-based advertising and public relations agency that handles the Breeders’ Cup. Fravel asked Dado to sit in on the meeting because the agency wanted input on branding the event in Southern California. Dado is well-versed on that subject and others.
“The Breeders’ Cup document we received had about 27 different questions on topics ranging from the configuration of our racetrack to our seating capacity to hotels and restaurants in the area,” Dado said. “It included everything they’d want to know about a Breeders’ Cup host site. We answered the declaration of interest with a 52-page document. We answered all their questions and I believe it demonstrated that, A, we’re interested, and, B, we think we’re very capable of hosting a Breeders’ Cup here at Del Mar. That’s the very first step in many steps. At this point we’re a long way from deal points or dates. This was very preliminary.”
Dado said that Del Mar will not be able to host a Breeders’ Cup unless the Jimmy Durante Turf Course is renovated and widened, a project that not only is needed to draw the Breeders’ Cup, but also to increase racing safety and improve daily fields and race cards during the summer meeting. At present, the turf course can only start 10 horses and as few as seven when the rail is moved in to restore the turf. Breeders’ Cup turf races require 14 starters.
The state-appointed Del Mar Fairgrounds board approved a future development plan for the fairgrounds back in April of 2010, and that plan included widening of the turf track to attract a Breeders’ Cup. Dado said the cost would be between $2 million and $3 million and paid for by the 22nd District Agricultural Association.
The master plan also calls for rebuilding exhibit halls, expanding parking and other infrastructure improvements to the venue. Tim Fennell, the 22nd District Agricultural Association’s CEO and general manager, said, however, that any funding for the project is at least five years away. The plan also is being legally challenged jointly by Del Mar, Solana Beach and the San Dieguito River Park Joint Powers Authority, a government agency that oversees the wetlands adjacent to the venue. The litigants argue that the plan’s environmental studies for the sensitive coastal property were inadequate given traffic, noise and other impositions the development would have on the local communities....
Lots more at jump on link.