Dare we say it? Can Santa Anita draw 60,000 today?

Is it possible that Santa Anita could surpass all expectations and come close to or exceed 60,000 in on-track attendance today during day two of Breeders’ Cup XXVI during the Oak Tree meet?

Let’s do the math: Last year on opening Friday of Breeders’ Cup XXV, 31,275 fans showed up on track during a day when Zenyatta was running in the Ladies’ Classic. This year, on a day when there were no draws close to a Zenyatta, Oak Tree drew an on-track crowd of 37,651 — a 20 percent hike — for the Friday card.

Now, here’s where it gets interesting. While Zenyatta was a big draw last year, she’s probably an even bigger attraction this year, what with her winning streak even larger and her taking on boys for the first time in the Classic. If 51,321 showed up on the second day last year without the lure of a Zenyatta going for a 14th consecutive victory and trying to become the first female to win the Classic, how many more will show up today?

Let’s say, for starters, Oak Tree and Breeders’ Cup officials are fortunate enough to get a 20 percent spike in attendance today like they did Friday. Well, that’s an on-track crowd of more than 60,000, and it’s been 21 years — when Alysheba won the 1988 Big ‘Cap in front of 70,432 — since Santa Aniat drew an on-track crowd of more than 60,000.

Breeders’ Cup and Oak Tree officials had to be smiling all night because of Friday’s on-track turnout. Let’s face it, Oak Tree’s numbers have been sagging badly the past few weeks and there was much uneasiness over what the numbers would be this weekend.

One high-ranking Santa Anita official told me on Breeders’ Cup draw day that they’d be happy with a two-day total matching last year’s 82,578. Well, to match last year’s on-track attendance, Santa Anita has to draw only 44,927 today. After that crowd Friday, I’d be very surprised if at least 50,000 aren’t on hand today, and I’m expecting a crowd of between 55,000 and 60,000.

That isn’t close to Santa Anita’s all-time record 85,527 that turned out when Lord At War won the 1985 Big ‘Cap, but in this economy and the way the horse-racing industry has struggled the past few years, well, a two-day Breeders’ Cup crowd of more than 92,651 would be mighty impressive.

7 thoughts on “Dare we say it? Can Santa Anita draw 60,000 today?

  1. An impressive turn out would be a crowd of 107,783 people showing up, which happened last Sunday at Tokyo Racecourse. But that will never happen in the United States because the horse racing industry here does little to attract younger fans to the racetrack.

    The average age of for horse players in 1996 was 56. It hasn’t gotten any younger in the last 13 years. And Social Security recipients generally have limited wagering funds. If we do not get younger folks out to the track soon, the racing industry as we know it today may not exist ten years from now.

  2. Churchill Downs has drawn crowds of more than 150,000 for the Kentucky Derby the past few years. But your point about the sport needing to attract younger fans is right on. Some of the methods to this point — i.e. concerts, etc. — I don’t think is going to cut the mustard. We’ll see.

  3. Dearest Zenyatta, hope you are having a woeufrndl day. Just home for a quick lunch break and had to see if there was a post today. Thank you and Dottie so much for keeping in touch. Violet and Stella are such stylish girls, you have some very lovely friends. We really appreciate their art critique also. I certainly agree, your statue is absolutely gorgeous. How woeufrndl that Nina Kaiser put so much, time, talent and love into making your image just right. You deserve the very best and how special that a portion of the proceeds will be going to support those beautiful thoroughbreds less fortunate and in need of rescue. You continue to give so much, Zenny. You are the best!!! Can’t wait to hear the decision , it has been so fun to try to guess. I have been out on the Stallion Register many times typing in likely candidates. For a young, uproven stallion, Eskendereya was a pretty good match. But if AP can manage it, that would be woeufrndl or certainly one of his son’s, Pulpit or Bernardini. And the winner is . . .? Bye for now, gorgeous. Peppermint kisses, crunchy carrots and hugs.L thank you for the information. I have been attempting to study pedigree, confirmation etc. for some years. There is so much to it and seems literally hundreds of variables when you go back several generations considering stallion and mare contributions. Katie Clawson Enjoyed your post very much. What a lucky young lady to get so close to Mike (a hug even), John and woeufrndl Zenny. You go girl!!

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