By Audrey Rock
Del Mar, CA (The Hollywood Times) 11/10/17 – There was an abundance of surprises and twist endings at the Breeders Cup World Championships in Del Mar over the weekend. The socialite-heavy, two-day race culminated in a 6-million dollar prize. It’s a consistently smashing upscale annual event. In order to outdo itself this year, it produced the perfect 10, Bo Derek, at the last minute, and an unexpected win by Gun Runner, who left favorite Arrogate (last year’s winner) in the dust.
Extravagant horse racing hats came out into the blazing San Diego sun and dabbled in their own competition. This, says television superstar Carson Kressly, may very well be the best part of The Breeders Cup. “I think it’s so exciting that we’re in Del Mar this year,” Kressly told THT. “It’s such a pretty track and it’s on the ocean; the weather is flawless…and it changes up the fashion! When the Breeders Cup is in Kentucky, I’m wearing corduroy and paisley and warm colors. And here you can still wear floral, and dresses, and pretty hats.”
The former Queer Eye for the Straight Guy star, like many of the other celebrities on the carpet, has a strong background as an equestrian. “I’ve been riding since I was a little kid—since I was four,” he said. His grandparents had a pony farm; when he was 13, he asked for a horse. So Kressly is right at home at the Championships. “I always had horses in my life,” he said. He currently owns 7 horses; he says his favorite is named George.
The atmosphere at the races was animated and blithe. Following Kressly, more celebrities appeared on the regal purple carpet to chat with the press and pose for photos. Races periodically continued. A luxe dinner of clams was served in the Trophy Lounge at the Chalet; a spot where Bo Derek, Jewel, Kressly, Elizabeth Banks, and legendary guitarist Richie Sambora could slip away and sit back with a glass of wine away from the general public while looking out over the tracks.
Sambora, incidentally, arrived just after Kressly. And before meeting up with Bo Derek on the carpet and planting a kiss on her cheek for the cameras, he told THT why he enjoys The Breeders Cup. “Me and my dad, we didn’t know what the hell we were doing,” he joked. “We were betting like ten dollars. But it was a true father and son thing that we did at least once a month; it was just a fun time out, and my dad happened to be a lucky guy. He won 1 race almost every time we went out.” Sambora now brings his own daughter to races, and owns his own horses as well. “Sometimes you just have a hunch” he said of the methodology of betting. Sambora’s new album, Rise, was released this fall. “We’re gonna blitz the world,” he said.
Out on the track, the horses periodically thundered by in the temperate San Diego climate. Competitors Arrogate (the undisputed favorite), West Coast, Gun Runner, War Story, Win the Space, Mubtaahu (Ire), War Decree, Churchill (Ire), Gunnevera, Pavel, and Collected, are world class powerhouses. It was impossible to look away as they crashed neck-and-neck down the elegant seaside raceway at Del Mar.
Dean Norris of Breaking Bad admitted to being at Del Mar for the first time. “I go to the Kentucky Derby a lot,” he said. “It’s my first time making it out here. I’m really excited.” Norris named Arrogate as his favorite before posing for pictures with his daughter. As for that gigantically popular show he did…had his young daughter seen it? “No, she hasn’t. And she probably won’t until she’s in college,” he laughed.
The purple carpet proved to be its own racetrack of sorts; celebrities continued to rapidly appear. Jewel, Elizabeth Banks, Regina King, Jordana Brewster, and James Marsden stopped for photos before heading to the Trophy Lounge. Kevin Dillon of Entourage said his experience with horses amounted mostly to movies. “I’ve done movies where I was on horses a lot,” he said. “And I’ve been thrown a couple times.” Dillon was particularly happy to be at Del Mar on such a beautiful, laid back day. “I just enjoy coming to the track. I just love being here with friends, and watching the race. My mom was really big into it.” It was Dillon’s second Breeders Cup in a row. He says he’s going to try and make it a can’t-miss yearly tradition.
The Breeders Cup is all about tradition. But it’s also about surprises; and although nearly everyone had their expectations pinned on last year’s winner Arrogate, in the end, Gun Runner pulled out a stunning surprise win against the reigning champion. Arrogate retires a legend, having won the last three Classic’s in a row.
This year’s Breeders Cup Classic was, just as Dillon pointed out, a magnificent event that should be attended every single year as a matter of strict tradition. Just for the stunning surprises that emerge from it.