Bluegrass Breeders’ Cup ball finally here

LEXINGTON, Ky. – It’s finally here, Breeders’ Cup week for 2015 at Keeneland Race Course.

It seems like yesterday when I wrote the story that the Breeders’ Cup board had selected the Lexington track for this year’s event. I wrote that story for The Courier-Journal. This week I’ll be writing for The Blood-Horse covering the Juvenile Fillies and Juvenile Fillies Turf. And I’m eager to do so.

Champion Breeders' Cup Classic contender Beholder  on Sunday prances by Keeneland Race Course's storied sycamore. The tree by the walking ring was planted about the time of the track's 1936 opening.
Champion Breeders’ Cup Classic contender Beholder on Sunday prances by Keeneland Race Course’s storied sycamore. The tree by the walking ring was planted about the time of the track’s 1936 opening.

Besides the picks and thoughts I’ll post here throughout the week, I’ve got a lot of questions that I’ll also be eager to see answered. Some of those, besides the obvious of the lady champ (seen parading in the walking ring today) versus the Triple Crown champ, are:

♦ How well will Keeneland do? It’s been almost a decade since the Breeders’ Cup was at a site that relied heavily on temporary seating and the weather forecast is improving but remains a concern. My guess is Keeneland does a great job of it, but it’ll be a test.

♦ I want to see if Songbird, the likely favorite for the Juvenile Fillies, is as dominant as they say she is.

♦ How many people will come out to The Hill and pay $50 per vehicle on Saturday (or $35 on Friday) to see nothing but a horse on a video screen, something they could do at home for free? Of course, Churchill Downs has sold admission to its infield for decades on Kentucky Derby Day, with the virtual guarantee that nobody there would see a horse. But the Derby is the sport’s biggest drawing card. And at least you were inside the racetrack might get a glimpse of it, even if you couldn’t see a horse. That won’t be true on The Hill, where the best you’ll do is see a barn. (My AutoCorrect just suggested “bar” instead of “barn.” There’s no doubt The Hill people will see a bar.)

♦ While I’m confident Keeneland will do a good job of taking care of people in the racetrack, I wonder how long it will take to get people out of the racetrack. They plan to use off-site parking and parking on the Keeneland grounds will be limited. But, as much as I love the place, there are only so many ways in and out of there, and at least one of those is a country road. It could make Lexington’s horribly clogged rush-hour traffic on Nicholasville Road look like a Sunday drive.

♦ For years we’ve heard that the fall breeding stock sales do better in Kentucky when the Breeders’ Cup is in Kentucky. All prior examples are Churchill Downs. This year, with the event at Keeneland and sales horses on the grounds, this should be the real acid test for that theory. The sales companies have touted this theory for years with more anecdotal evidence than what might be viewed as hard economic science. And, as is also pointed out, the breeding stock sales depend more on the catalog than anything else, with the purchase of mares for breeding being not unlike an art collector selecting a painting – a very expensive painting.

♦ Lastly, as with every year, I want to see if I can bet the right horses in the right order.

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