The general consensus in the immediate days and weeks after the Breeders’ Cup was staged for the first time at Keeneland Race Course was that the event was an unmitigated success. Well before the first temporary structure went up and the first championship race was run there were doubts from some whether Keeneland and the city of Lexington could pull it off.
A few days after thousands of tickets for the event went on sale we caught up with Bob Elliston, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Breeders’ Cup Ltd., to talk about everything from those tickets selling out in hours to the logistics of the event.
The more than 1,500-word interview wound up being pretty popular and lands in the 10th spot on our 15 for 2015 list of most read stories of the year.
Elliston was candid in his remarks and admitted to being surprised at how quickly the tickets – roughly 77,000 for the two-day event – sold out. At the same time he said Breeders’ Cup officials “expected to have robust sales.”
“Word was out on the street. It came from everywhere. It wasn’t just here in Lexington. We anticipated it to do well here, because it’s a very plugged-in market to the horse industry. But they were coming from California, Florida, Henderson, Tenn., and all kinds of places. That was pleasant to see, that they wanted to come from remote locations. It wasn’t just an insular, Lexington-Central Kentucky thing. That’s one.
“Two, I would have expected to get where we are now over a little longer horizon. I didn’t anticipate two days later we would have been a nearly functional sellout on the property except for the remote locations. We’d never been anywhere close to that in the 31 years we’ve done it before. It continues the validate the level of enthusiasm people have for the Keeneland experience.”
Check out No. 10 on our 15 for 2015 list of popular stories
Other stories in the 15 for 2015
No. 11: Rage for the sake of the sport
No. 12: Funerals and Field Trips
No. 13: The ultimate workhorse
No. 14: Horse racing in Georgia?