Breeders’ Cup president prepares for 2022 World Championships, discusses changes to Keeneland’s infrastructure
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - As October winds on, you can increasingly feel fall in the air and see it in the trees. But in Kentucky, there’s another way this season can stimulate your senses.
“There’s just something in the air in Kentucky,” said Drew Fleming, the president and CEO of the Breeders’ Cup. “The moment you get off the plane, you smell horse racing.”
Keeneland’s Fall Race Meet spreads the spirit of horse racing throughout the bluegrass, and this year, the stakes are even higher.
“We’ve had nine Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series races, which is you win and you’re in,” Fleming said.
Some of these horses are racing to earn a return trip to Keeneland in November for one of the sport’s most prestigious events. Fleming says the 2022 World Championships have been many years in the making.
“In 2020, we were not able to have fans,” said Fleming. “It was a difficult decision but the right one to make. But when we made the decision, we said, ‘Let’s come back to Keeneland as soon as we can.’”
Fleming anticipates a sellout crowd of 45,000 fans per day. With attendance capped at 20,000 for this Fall Meet, they’re hard at work to meet the demands of hosting such a large turnout.
“We’re putting in approximately 175,000 square feet of additional temporary infrastructure, just over $10 million in cost, to make sure that it’s a world-class experience,” Fleming said.
Among the new additions you can find at Keeneland during the fall meet is a merchandise pavilion near the clubhouse, so that fans can gear up for November’s world championships.
Fleming says the setup will share similarities from when the cup was held here in 2015. But they’re improving upon it as well, hoping to capture that aura that’s in the air, bottle it up and let it flow through this historic venue come November 4th and 5th.
“It’s going to be a truly best of class, all-worldly experience...and what better place to be than Keeneland Race Course?” said Fleming.
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