In Keeneland’s President Bill Thomason announcing in ‘Raising The Bar’ to host the 2020 Breeders’ Cup, it was D.G., Daniel, Van Clief Jr. who ‘set the bar’ for the Breeders’ Cup World Championship.
“In establishing the Breeders’ Cup our challenges in 1982 and 1983 were to complete the detailed design and rules governing the corporation,” said D.G. Van Clief.
“We needed to raise a minimum of $20 million to fund a championship event plus a system of Breeders’ Cup sponsored races throughout the US and Canada.”
“We needed to secure live television coverage of the event, and confirm a host site for the inaugural running, which became Hollywood Park, Los Angeles in 1984.”
D.G. Van Clief cemented John Gaines vision of an end of year racing world championship day of racing, with a ‘parade of champions’ of the best horses from around the world.
John Gains saw seven races each with a $1 million purse, and $3 million for the Breeders’ Cup Classic. As a Keeneland Director he foresaw Breeders’ Cup starters as Keeneland yearling sale graduates.
D.G. continued “my appointment as Breeders’ Cup Executive Director was finalised at a November 1982 Breeders’ Cup Board meeting in Lexington, Kentucky where it still has its headquarters.”
“I was on the Hollywood Park racetrack management team, living in Los Angeles with my wife Trish and two young children, when I was invited to be interview for position of Executive Director.”
“My first exposure of the Breeders’ Cup was reading about it in the late Bill Christine’s Los Angeles Times column, with him being intrigued but sceptical.”
“I knew John Gaines had announced his concept for the Breeders’ Cup at a Kentucky Derby luncheon in Louisville, Kentucky in April of 1982.”
“The idea of a year-end racing championship was meet with a high level of interest and enthusiasm by many in American Thoroughbred Racing as well as turf writers in the American press.”
“Following major disagreements amongst Board members, compromises were reached and an effort was launched to secure permanent management and staff for the corporation.”
“The early Breeders’ Cup Board of Directors was a very active group of influential owners and breeders, along with some of their senior management.”
“These individuals played important roles as Directors and members of our extensive committee system. I depended on them during the early years when designing and launching the program.”
“Our television partnership with NBC Sports was surely a leap of faith. Their President, the late Arthur Watson was an avid racing fan and race horse owner of Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds and devoted four hours of live coverage to this new and unproven event.”
John Gaines saw his dream come true on Saturday 10 November at Hollywood Park with Chief’s Crown being the first ever Breeders’ Cup winner in taking out the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
The seven race Breeders’ Cup card featured a total of $10m in stakes, covered by a live four-hour NBC national broadcast which generated some $19.4 million in simulcasting and wagering turnover.
The $3m Breeders’ Cup Classic lived up to being the world’s richest race with the 31/1 outsider Wild Again, jockey Pat Day, defeating the favourite Slew o’Gold and Preakness Stakes winner Gate Dance
In being a true World Championship, it was the HH Aga Khan’s French visitor Lashkari who won the Breeders’ Cup Turf, and the John Gosden trained Royal Heroine winning the TVG Turf Mile.
John Gains dream of his Breeder’s Cup World Championship been held at Keeneland came in 2015 when the Triple Crown winner American Pharoah won the Breeders’ Cup Classic in record time.
As a mile-stone Breeders’ Cup World Championship the BC Juvenile winner Nyquist became Champion 2YO, with his sire Uncle Mo being Champion Sire. Then Nyquist won the Kentucky Derby.
The Friday Keeneland attendance of 44,947 was the largest Day 1 Friday attendance in in Breeders’ Cup history. The Saturday 50,1555 attendance was a venue-record for Keeneland, with 65% of those polled saying Keeneland was their first Breeders’ Cup.