Big bets and big hats: Breeders’ Cup excitement builds as famed event returns to Del Mar


DEL MAR, Calif. – Starting Friday, the horse racing world descends on Del Mar for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, bringing big bets, big hats and some of the most exhilarating moments in all of sports.

Fourteen races worth roughly $31 million are on the schedule when the annual series returns to the area for the first time since 2017. On the eve of the event, which runs Nov. 5-6, the track was being groomed and the horses were readied for a heart-pounding competition for participants and fans alike.

“It’s the international championships of thoroughbred racing,” Breeders’ Cup president and CEO Drew Fleming said. “For non-racing fans, I like to tell them it’s the perfect marriage of the Super Bowl and track and field for the Olympics.”

The showcase typically brings in fans from all over the world, including many willing to wager large amounts of money in hopes the horse of their choosing crosses the finish line first. Last year’s Breeders’ Cup in Lexington, Kentucky saw $180 million wagered even without people in the stands amid the pandemic.

This year’s Breeders’ Cup has implemented health and safety restrictions for attendees.

All visitors are required to show proof they’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19 or proof of a negative test within the past 72 hours prior to entry. Masks will not be required for outdoor areas.

“Despite global transportation issues and immigration issues, Breeders’ Cup has the highest number of international participating horses ever,” Fleming said. “We’ve got 46 international horses that have been shipping in the past couple of days. And with them, comes their owners and trainers.”

He added, “We couldn’t be more thrilled for them to be here. They’re going to love Del Mar as much as we do.”

Tickets this year range from $50 to $775 for a seat at dinner.

“2020 and the first part of 2021 has been pretty difficult for some people,” Fleming said. “We’re deserving of some fun and we’re going to do just that. The best horses are here. Pour a cold glass of champagne, have some fun and see world-class racing.”

More information, including a list of participants and how to purchase tickets, can be found online at

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