Previewing the Breeders’ Cup 2015

The Kentucky Derby is the “most exciting two minutes in sports,” but the Breeders’ Cup is “the richest two days in sports,” with “$26 million in purses paid out over the entire weekend.”

And the Breeders’ Cup isn’t just a race, this year, it will be a Festival for all of Lexington to enjoy.

The Breeders’ Cup World Championships are beging held in Lexington for this first time this October. Breeders’ Cup attendance ranks fourth or fifth in North America annually and usually surpasses the attendance of all other stakes races (except for the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness, and the Oaks).

The Breeders’ Cup Festival will be centered around the races, but will show off the very best Lexington has to offer — music, art, and film showcases, horse farm tours, and other special events, will fill up the entire week, beginning on Saturday, October 24.


October 24

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The first ever Feeders’ Cup is at Legends ballpark from 3 – 10 pm. The festival invites food trucks from the commonwealth and the tri-state area to compete for the glory of earning the grand prize. Winning trucks will be selected by a panel of judges and then voted on by the public. Categories include Southern classic, world fusion, and farm to table. The five winning trucks will serve and sell their full menu during the Winners’ Stretch at Cheapside Pavilion during the entire week of the Breeders’ Cup Festival.

Frank X. Walker’s play “I Dedicate This Ride” will be at the Lyric Theatre at 7 pm. Walker’s production brings to life the mind and heart of thoroughbred racing legend Isaac Burns Murphy (1861 – 1896). Born into slavery, Murphy rose to prominence to enjoy wealth, honor, and international fame.  There will also be shows on October 23 at 7 pm and October 25 at 3 pm.

The Thoroughbred Makeover will be at the Kentucky Horse Park through October 25. The featured event of the Retired Racehorse Project will showcase 350 recently retired racehorses who have been retrained in one of ten disciplines competing for $100,000 in cash and prizes.


October 25

The Kentucky for Kentucky Fun Run at the Kentucky Horse Park will start at 2 pm. Dress like your favorite Kentuckian for a $1,000 prize or just come and run/walk the 25-furlong (3.1 mile) course. Enjoy the tree-lined trail leading through the heart of the park with friends and family.

Sunrise Trackside, starting at 7 am, lets you catch all the early morning action trackside at Keeneland as the Cup contenders put in final preparations. Free and open to the public; there will be breakfast and guest commentary all week through October 28.

Here Come The Mummies will kick off a week of shows at the Courthouse Plaza at 7 pm.


October 26

The John Gaines Plaque Dedication at Thoroughbred Park at 10:30 am will recognize Gaines, founder of the Breeders’ Cup, for his positive impact on the Thoroughbred industry with a bronze plaque in the park’s hall of fame.  

The Bourbon Lounge at Keeneland hosts a Breeders’ Cup Draw Party at 5 pm. Open to the public, this event gives guests the opportunity to mix and mingle with the owners, trainers, and riders for the upcoming World Championships as the drama for post positions begins to build.

Ben Lacy and TD Young play live at the Courthouse Plaza at 7 pm.


October 27

The Cigar Statue Dedication at the Kentucky Horse Park at 2:30 pm will celebrate one of racing’s all-time great horses. A statue will be unveiled in honor of Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Cigar.

The Suffers play live at the Courthouse plaza at 7 pm.


October 28

The Kentucky Bourbon Trail presents Bourbon Backstrech – Master Distillers Night at The Livery at 6 pm. Join the members and Master Distillers of the world-renowned Kentucky Bourbon Trail tour and sample some of the best Bourbon that the Bluegrass has to offer.

The Oliver Lewis Way Bridge Lighting & Fireworks begins at 7:30 pm (Newtown Pike, extended at Main St.) Paying tribute to the great rider, join local officials and members of the Breeders’ Cup jockey colony as the public art display goes live for the first night on the Oliver Lewis Bridge. A firework show and celebration continues after in Lexington’s Distillery District.

The Kentucky Theatre hosts a showing of Dreamer at 7:15 pm as part of a series of equestrian-themed movies in honor of the Festival.

The Livery hosts a smaller version of the signature spring event, Kentucky Crafted: The Market. The Kentucky Arts Council presents this curated shopping experience at the Livery through October 31, featuring art and craft by Kentucky artists.

Town Mountain and Travelin’ McCourys play live at the Courthouse Plaza at 7 pm..


October 29

Prelude to the Breeders’ Cup: At 11 am there will be live Thoroughbred racing at Keeneland, a special preview on the day before the World Championships.

The Kentucky Theatre hosts a screening of Secretariat at 7:15 pm.

Stooges Brass Band play live at the Courthouse Plaza at 7 pm.


October 30 – 31

The main event: the Breeders’ Cup World Championships kick off at Keeneland each day at 9 am.

The Breeders’ Cup Bash at Red Mile lets you watch, wager, and celebrate the Breeders’ Cup onscreen at the newly renovated Red Mile. A full offering of food, music, drink, and wagers will be presented from the first races to the last.

The Twiggenburys and The Wags close out the week with a live music performance at the Courthouse Plaza at 7 pm on October 31.

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This story also appears on page 5 of the October 2015 print edition of the Hamburg Journal.