No Fans at Breeders’ Cup, Returns to Keeneland in 2022

Breeders' Cup Keeneland

The Breeders’ Cup announced there will be no fans this year and the event will return to Keeneland in 2022. (Photo by © Breeders’ Cup/Tyger Williams 2015).

The Breeders’ Cup, one of Thoroughbred horse racing’s most prestigious international events, today announced Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Ky. as the host site for the 2022 Breeders’ Cup World Championships. Keeneland, which is also scheduled to host this year’s World Championships on November 6–7, will hold the 39th championship event on November 4–5, 2022, which will mark the venue’s third time as host since it first welcomed the Breeders’ Cup in 2015.

The announcement of Keeneland as host of the 2022 event was made in conjunction with the decision to conduct the 2020 Breeders’ Cup World Championships without fans on-site due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This decision was made following close, continuous communications with Governor Andy Beshear, Keeneland, local and state government and public health officials and independent medical experts to fully assess the conditions under which major sporting events may expect to operate safely in the coming months.

Under the new operational parameters, on-site attendance will be limited to essential personnel and participants only. Those accessing the grounds will be subject to strict guidelines and protocols put in place as part of Breeders’ Cup’s comprehensive COVID-19 health and safety plan, details of which will be announced closer to the event.

Purses Worth $31 Million in 2020

In keeping with the Breeders’ Cup’s commitment to showcase the highest quality of competition the sport has to offer, the 2020 Breeders’ Cup will be run for $31 million in purses and awards, the same amount as 2019. While many racing events have reduced purses due to COVID-19 implications, the Breeders’ Cup is committed to maintaining its lucrative purse levels during these challenging times to support the industry and its horsemen. With purses of $6 million and $4 million, the weekend’s Longines Classic and Longines Turf remain two of the richest horse races in the world. The $4 million purse increase announced earlier this year has been postponed to 2021.

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“While we are disappointed that we will not be joined by our fans on-site this year, our utmost priority is and always will be to conduct the Breeders’ Cup World Championships in the safest way possible,” said Fred Hertrich, Breeders’ Cup Board Chairman. “We would like to thank Governor Beshear, state and local health officials and public health authorities for their leadership, guidance and insight as we have worked to identify our options and finalize our plans. Lexington’s local community of racing fans, businesses and members of the Thoroughbred industry are the backbone of our sport, and we believe they deserve a second opportunity, in short order, to experience the event at its full potential. As such, we are proud to award Keeneland the 2022 World Championships and look forward to bringing the Breeders’ Cup back to Lexington in just two years’ time.”

“The decision to hold this year’s Breeders’ Cup World Championships without fans in attendance was not made lightly,” said Drew Fleming, President and CEO of Breeders’ Cup. “However, after many months of careful deliberation, planning and consultation, it has become abundantly clear that this is the right decision in order to proceed with our event while still protecting the collective health of our community. Despite many major racing events reducing purses significantly, we are proud to be able to maintain 2019 purse levels to support our nominators and horsemen during this challenging year.”

“While the World Championships will look different this year, Keeneland and Breeders’ Cup remain committed to making the event the best it can be,” said Bill Thomason, Keeneland President and CEO. “We are grateful to continue providing a platform for our athletes and horses to showcase their talent, and we are excited for the event to return in 2022, when fans can experience the full spectacle of Breeders’ Cup in the Bluegrass as we originally intended.”

NBC to Cover Breeders’ Cup

To enhance the viewing experience for the influx of horse racing fans who will be watching the races from home, Breeders’ Cup is working with its official broadcast partner, NBC Sports, to develop and introduce innovative and enhanced production elements. The organization is also implementing advanced technologies across its own digital platforms and channels to further engage with fans at home.

All 2020 ticket holders will receive a full refund and will also be granted first access to purchase the same or similar tickets for the 2022 Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Keeneland.

Before the Breeders’ Cup World Championships takes place at Keeneland in 2022, Del Mar Racetrack, in Del Mar, Calif., will be the site of the 2021 Breeders’ Cup World Championships.

The 37th running of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships is scheduled to take place on Friday, November 6 and Saturday, November 7, 2020. The event will be broadcast live on NBC, NBCSN, and the NBC Sports app. To learn more about the event, please visit Breeders’ Cup is also committed to alleviating the impacts of the health crisis on the horse racing community and other industry stakeholders in need. To learn more about Breeders’ Cup’s ongoing support of the community and to contribute to the organization’s COVID-19 relief efforts, please visit

NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll

No. Horse Points
1 Flightline 351
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4 Jackie's Warrior 282
5 Clairiere 142
5 Country Grammer 142
7 Epicenter 121
8 Regal Glory 89
9 Nest 87
10 Hot Rod Charlie 48
As of August 1, 2022

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