On Nov. 1 and 2, the Breeders’ Cup World Championships returns to Santa Anita Park for a record 10th time. In 1982, Kentucky breeder John Gaines publicly announced the idea of holding a North American championship to close out the racing year—something he’d been lobbying for among industry heavyweights for a long time. In 1984, his vision was realized. Since then, the world’s finest thoroughbreds, jockeys, and trainers have sought their place in racing history at this multimillion-dollar extravaganza.
Last held at Santa Anita in 2016, that year’s championships drew a record 118,484 spectators to the classic Arcadia track. The 2019 event will see 14 races over two days, culminating in the $6 million Classic, held last year at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., and won by Accelerate. If you’re planning on attending this year’s championships, we want to help you make the most of it—and not just at the betting window. Check out our insider’s guide on the following pages.
WHERE TO EAT:
A wide variety of dining options are available at Santa Anita to keep you fueled up for the next race, or to provide an elegant and relaxing respite between runnings.
High above the track with a spectacular bird’s-eye view of the races below, FrontRunner offers diners some of the best seats in the house. Book either a table or a seat at the 215-foot-long cocktail bar that winds through the dining room. Down the length of the restaurant, floor-to-ceiling windows give diners a stunning view of the San Gabriel Mountains rising behind the track. Ticket packages include a gourmet lunch from a special menu put together by some of California’s most influential chefs. Cuisine from chef Nancy Silverton, founder of La Brea Bakery, will be featured on Friday, and Saturday’s menu comes from chefs Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo, owners of L.A. favorites Animal, Jon & Vinny’s, and Son of a Gun.
Located on the third and fourth floor of the clubhouse, Turf Terrace offers an incredible dining experience with a first-class view of the races. Tables are perfect for groups of four to six and overlook either the finish line or the fabled first turn. The menu for Breeders’ Cup weekend features the cuisine of acclaimed L.A. chef-restaurateurs Jon Shook, Vinny Dotolo, and Nancy Silverton. Enjoy the shaded, open-air environment as the horses gallop below at 40 miles an hour. Televisions are stationed at each table so diners can keep a close eye on the action.
The Chandelier Room:
Enjoy the races from the luxury of one of Santa Anita Park’s most exquisite dining experiences. Accessed through a private elevator, the dining room features a beautiful art deco interior framed by two sweeping staircases leading up to a private outdoor terrace overlooking the finish line. Lunch includes a gourmet menu of American classics with a modern twist from chef Sylvain Delpique of New York City’s iconic 21 Club. Let the expert bartenders mix you a cocktail and enjoy the afternoon in style. Flat-screen TVs can be found throughout the room so you can catch every second of the action. After the winners cross the finish line, head to the private paddock-side patio to watch the champion horses head to the post parade.
WHERE TO WATCH
In addition to the Grandstand, Santa Anita Park boasts a number of places to watch the races, each with its own personality and amenities.
This exclusive space invites groups of 25 to experience all the sights and sounds of the track in a comfortably shaded, open-air lounge. Located directly on the finish line and as close to the action as you can get, the Winner’s Terrace includes catered dishes from Santa Anita’s expert culinary team, bottle service so you’ll always have a cold drink in your hand, and a personal betting machine in case you’re feeling lucky.
Once the private room of the racetrack’s top brass, this distinguished old-world haven is now open to the public. Antique chandeliers dating back to the early 1800s hang from the ceiling, and the carved pine walls, shipped from England where they were originally crafted in 1740, define the space. Though the elegance of the Director’s Room is sure to transport guests to another era, they’ll still be able to enjoy the amenities of the modern world. TVs show the races in high definition and a personal betting machine keeps you in the action. Mix a cocktail from the fully stocked private bar or enjoy the buffet prepared by world-class chefs. Tall glass doors run along the side of the room, opening up to a private patio that overlooks the track.
Built after the demolition of a popular dive bar just a block away from the track, Santa Anita Park adopted its name and spirit when designing the 100-to-1 Club. Though the space enjoys a significant upgrade from the dive bar aesthetics, they did bring one artifact over—a large neon sign featuring a rider at full sprint and the bar’s name in bright-red electric letters. Built three stories above the track’s infamous first turn, this open-air club offers a panoramic view of the action in a sophisticated, lounge-like setting. Enjoy a drink from the private bar while surveying the stunning vista or watch the photo finish up close through the mounted flat screens throughout the club.
Clockers Corner: An Authentic Track Experience
Embrace your inner early bird at Clocker’s Corner, where breakfast starts cooking at 5 a.m., just as the trainers are warming up the horses. Located not more than a few feet from the track, the outdoor patio puts you up close as horses charge around the track, the warm morning sun rising against the distant mountains. Walk right up to the raceway to meet the trainers and jockeys or enjoy the unhurried social atmosphere and talk shop with other racing enthusiasts. Hot breakfast is available to order throughout the morning, with diner classics like huevos rancheros and fried-egg sandwiches on the menu. You can also pack your own picnic to enjoy this one-of-a-kind experience.
Anatomy of a Trophy
The Breeders’ Cup Trophy is what is known as an écorché, that is, a sculpture that depicts the underlying musculature of the subject—in this case, a trotting horse. Known as the Torrie horse, it was produced around 1580 in Florence, Italy, likely by Renaissance sculptor Giambologna.
Such anatomical works were often studied for later pieces, a practice illustrated in the works of Leonardo da Vinci. The original bronze was acquired in Rome around the turn of the 19th century by Sir James Erskine of Torrie, who bequeathed it to the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, where it now resides. A number of copies were made by the Vatican in the early 19th century, but it is a more recent copy of the statue produced by Mario Pastori in 1984 that is the basis for today’s Breeders’ Cup Trophy, displayed yearlong by the host track of the championships.