- The 2021 Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Del Mar announced that tickets for the November 5-6 event will go on Sale July 16 at 9:00 AM Pacific.
- An undetermined number of fans will be able to attend with more details expected in mid-June.
- Fans will also be welcomed back for Del Mar’s summer meet beginning on July 16.
The Kentucky Derby on May 1 was a hopeful sign for the entire horse racing industry. Despite lower TV ratings and total handle the most significant takeaway was the return of fans to a major sporting event. While the 51,838 in attendance at Churchill Downs was nearly 100,000 fewer than the 150,729 that watched the 2019 Kentucky Derby it holds the distinction of being the largest attended sporting event in the world since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. It won’t hold that status for long–the May 30 running of the Indianapolis 500 will be limited to 40% of capacity but that equates to approximately 135,000 fans at the massive speedway complex.
Considering that the overwhelming majority of sporting events over the past year were held without fans these attendance figures–even at a limited capacity–are definitely good news. There’s even more good news for equine enthusiasts coming out of Southern California. In mid-March the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club announced their 82nd summer racing meet beginning on July 16. There are 34 major stakes races and substantially increased purses on the agenda for this year’s meet but more significantly the track is expecting fans to return to ‘where the surf meets the turf’.
Del Mar president and COO Josh Rubinstein cited the return of spectators to Petco park for San Diego Padres games when making the announcement:
“We will continue to follow the guidance of local health officials and our medical advisors, but based on what has been announced for other local attractions such as the San Diego Padres and SeaWorld, we are optimistic we will have fans in the stands this summer at some level. We have the advantages of a 350-acre site and a facility that can host people quite comfortably with appropriate social distancing as needed.”
The on sale date for tickets was pushed back from the traditional May drop to June 18 to allow more time to determine how many fans will be able to attend:
The San Diego Padres have recently increased capacity at Petco Park to 33% but certain sections are available at 67% capacity for fans who have been fully vaccinated. Assuming that the various COVID-19 metrics continue to trend in the right direction there’s reason to think that San Diego County will move from ‘Moderate’ status to ‘Minimal’ status. Furthermore, the current plan is to reopen the economy on June 15–once again, assuming that current trends continue. Since Del Mar has a capacity of 44,000 and using the 33% metric from Petco Park it would seem that ‘worst case scenario’ would be approximately 14,500 fans for the start of the summer meet. If the COVID-19 numbers continue to improve it could be substantially higher.
Even more significant–with Del Mar once again allowing fans to attend it looks good for the 2021 Breeders’ Cup to also allow a significant number of spectators. Breeders’ Cup President and CEO Drew Fleming released a ‘message’ for the fanbase indicating that spectators would be allowed to return in some fashion with more details such as seating options, ticket pricing, etc. forthcoming:
I’m delighted to share with you today that tickets for the 2021 Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Del Mar will go on sale to the public on Friday, July 16 at Noon ET / 9:00 a.m. PT. We will be announcing more information, such as seating options and ticket pricing, early next month. Needless to say, the health and safety of our fans, athletes, participants, and everyone in attendance continues to be our top priority. We are working closely with Del Mar and local and state health officials to ensure we can deliver a safe, and spectacular, experience for all.
After making the difficult but necessary decision to proceed without fans in attendance at Keeneland in 2020, we are eager to welcome our fans back to the World Championships on November 5-6 in sunny California at Del Mar – Where the Turf Meets the Surf. This will be just the second time in history that Del Mar will host the Breeders’ Cup and we cannot wait to showcase the best horses, trainers, and jockeys from around the world at this beautiful venue.
Following all the hardship endured by the racing community and people around the world throughout the pandemic, we hope the World Championships serves as an opportunity to come together once again and enjoy our majestic sport.
Thank you for your ongoing and steadfast support, particularly throughout the last year. Fans like you are the heartbeat of our sport and all of us at Breeders’ Cup look forward to a great event at Del Mar in November, and a bright future ahead.
The on sale date for Breeders’ Cup tickets is July 16–the same day that Del Mar opens their summer meet. The Breeders’ Cup website is giving an early June timeframe for more information to be released. It makes sense to wait and see what the situation looks like in a month or so but there’s a very good chance for the 2021 Breeders’ Cup to be held at significant–if not 100%–capacity.