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Breeders' Cup Traditions

horse racing breeders cup
Updated: 09/25/2022

Since the Breeders' Cup World Championships are usually held at a different race track each year, there are not many traditions associated with it beyond having the best quality horse racing of the year. There are only two things that are always constant from track to track: the trophy and the flower blankets for the winners.

The Trophy

The permanent Breeders' Cup trophy is a reproduction of Giovanni da Bologna's sculpture the Torrie horse. Created in the late 1580s in Florence, Italy, the sculpture is known as an ecorche or flayed horse, detailing all the horse's muscles.
horse racing breeders cup
The Breeders' Cup Statue at Churchill Downs

The original sculpture may have been a study made for a statue of Duke Cosimo I which was completed in 1591 and stands in the Piazza della Signoria in Florence. The sculptor's original bronze ecorche was acquired in the early 1800s by Sir James Erskine of Torrie, who bequeathed to the University of Edinburgh. It is currently housed in the university's Museum of Fine Arts in Scotland.

The Breeders' Cup trophy was cast from the original and the replica is owned by Breeders' Cup Ltd. It travels to the host track each year where it is displayed for the public, usually in the paddock or some other central location. At Santa Anita, it is displayed beside the fountain at the granstand entrance.

The winner of each Breeders' Cup Championship race is presented a trophy which is a smaller replicas of the permanent trophy statue. These smaller trophies are done in bronze, but in 2008 only they were changed to silver for the 25th running, going back to bronze in 2009. You can see a close-up of the silver trophy here. A generic trophy is used in the winner's circle on race day. A personally engraved trophy is sent to each winner afterward, full size for the owner and smaller ones for the jockey and trainer.

The Flower Blanket

horse racing breeders cup
Breeders' Cup flower blankets
Each winner of the 15 Breeders' Cup Championship races also receives a blanket of flowers which is draped across his or her withers, if the horse cooperates. Each blanket is made of yellow chrysanthemums outlined with purple chrysanthemums and has a round purple cloth pillow with the Breeders' Cup logo and the name of the race embroidered on it. The blanket is topped in the center with a bouquet of more chrysanthemums plus white orchids and greenery. It measures 96 inches in length and is roughly hour glass shaped, with a long, narrow center section that goes across the horse's back and wider ends that hang by his or her sides. You can see 2021 Classic winner Knicks Go wearing his flowers in the winner's circle here.

Each winner also receives a purple horse blanket with the name of the race on it. You can see 2021 Sprint winner Aloha West wearing his blanket here and 2021 Turf winner Yibir here, which is customized for race sponsor Longines. Starting in 2011, each entrant also received a purple "starter" blanket to wear on the walk over to the paddock for saddling.

Official Cocktail

These days official cocktails change when liquor sponsors change. For many years it was the Grey Goose Down the Stretch, but in 2022 there are two new official cocktails featuring Maker's Mark Bourbon (Torrie Cup) and Tito's Handmade Vodka (Garland). Below are recipes for all three plus a bonus cocktail.

Down the Stretch Cocktail

horse racing breeders cup
Original Down the Stretch Cocktail
This is the original recipe with former sponsor Grey Goose Vodka.

1 1/2 parts Grey Goose Vodka
1/2 part blue curaçao
1 part lemon lime soda
1 part cranberry juice
1 part sweet and sour mix

Preparation: Add all ingredients to a tall glass filled with ice. Shake or stir vigorously and serve over ice. Garnish with a fresh blackberry and a slice of lemon.

The recipe changed when Tito's Handmade Vodka became the sponsor and this is the new recipe.

1 1/2 oz Tito’s Handmade Vodka
6 ounces lemonade
1/2 ounce float crème de violette
Lemon twist

Preparation: Combine vodka, lemonade, and crème de violette and stir. Garnish with lemon twist.

Torrie Cup

horse racing breeders cup
Torrie Cup (right) and Garland
1 1/2 parts Maker’s Mark® Bourbon
3/4 part Sweet Vermouth
1 1/2 parts Orange Juice
2 parts Lemonade (Simply or Tropicana)

Preparation: Combine all ingredients in a mixing tin; add ice, shake vigorously and strain over fresh ice in a fancy wine glass or goblet. Garnish with a lemon wheel.


1 part Tito’s Handmade Vodka
1 part Triple Sec
1 part Honey-Green Tea (Honest or Pure Leaf)
1/2 part Fresh Lemon Juice

Preparation: Combine all ingredients in a mixing tin; add ice, shake vigorously and strain over fresh ice in a highball glass. Garnish with edible purple flowers.

Breeders' Cup Breeze

This was on their menu for the 2020 Breeders' Cup and looks delicious.

1 1/2 ounces Maker’s Mark
1/2 oz DeKuyper Orange Curacao
Ginger ale
Squeeze of fresh orange wedge

Preparation: Pour whiskey and curaçao over ice and fill with ginger ale. Garnish with orange slice.

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