City estimates around $80-million brought in through Breeders’ Cup

Mayor Linda Gorton says the last Breeders' Cup in Lexington in 2015 brought in $60-million

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Some of the world’s fastest race horses are here for the return of the Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland and there’s no shortage of festivities happening in Lexington. With tourists from all over the world coming to Lexington for the races Friday and Saturday, the city is expecting to see huge profits.

Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton says Keeneland has sold around 45,000 tickets for this weekend. Gorton says although racing spans two days, many international travelers have been in the city for about a week seeing all there is to offer with local restaurants, shops and Breeders’ Cup celebrations. It’s clear from the crowds and heavier traffic around town that there are a lot of people here for the races but that also means a lot of people here to spend money locally.

“This week has been very busy,” says Michelle Haydon, manager of the Keeneland Mercantile downtown. “It’s been very, very good.”

Thousands of people from around the world have come to Lexington to watch the Breeders’ Cup races. Some downtown businesses say this has led to heavier foot traffic in stores with the downtown hotels being full and Breeders’ Cup celebrations drawing people in.

“I think especially for gifts towards the end, if they don’t make it to the gift shop out at the track, they might stop in [Keeneland Mercantile], especially on their way home,” says Haydon.

For master milliner Jenny Pfanenstiel, Breeders’ Cup hasn’t just been busy this week. Pfanenstiel has spent the last several months creating hundreds of hats specifically for Keeneland during the Breeders’ Cup and has crafted even more custom hats for people worldwide for the races.

“I expected you know, Breeders’ Cup to be pretty much busier this year just because everyone’s in person and there wasn’t any restrictions for attendees,” says Pfanenstiel. “So I was really excited to see Breeders’ Cup back in full swing and Kentucky and Lexington in particular just embracing the whole Breeders’ Cup experience.”

The last time the Breeders’ Cup came to Lexington was 2015 and Gorton says the city brought in $60-million that year. Gorton says this year, that number is expected to be even higher.

“I’ve heard the number $80-million but we won’t know until it’s over,” says Gorton. “What [visitors] are saying is Lexington is absolutely beautiful and many of them were here in 2015 so they have a comparison basis and they’re just thrilled. They’re enjoying everything. It’s really good for us to be able to show off right? And show off really to the world.”

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