WHILE IT'S ALWAYS exciting to showcase the host city of the Breeders’ Cup each year, 2017’s location holds a bit of sentimental value for president and CEO Craig Fravel, who has called San Diego home since 1985. “Getting to bring the Breeders’ Cup to this city is particularly special for me—it’s a great homecoming,” he says, adding that his wife and daughter still live here while he splits his time between San Diego and Kentucky, where his office is located. Before taking his current position with the Breeders’ Cup in 2011, he served as president and general manager of the Del Mar Racetrack, so he’s quite familiar with our local racing scene. “It’s going to be exciting for the world to see what an extraordinarily great place it is and how much fun we have racing here.”
To drive that message home, a stellar lineup of events has been created to coincide with the race. “Everything we’re doing is to focus on the proximity to the Pacific Ocean, including holding a major global chef event at Scripps Birch Aquarium—really it’s the definition of where the turf meets the surf,” he says. If you can’t make it to one of the number of charity events being held in the week leading up to the big race, there are plenty of culinary experiences to be had at the track itself, thanks to consulting chefs Jeffrey Strauss, owner of Pamplemousse Grille in Solana Beach, and Brian Malarkey, who helms Herb & Wood and Searsucker. But some might argue the best seats in the house will be on the infield at the two-day Taste of Breeders’ Cup: San Diego (tickets $35 to $50), where 5,000 visitors can sample fare from the city’s top restaurants while taking in all the action. “There really is not a better way to spend the weekend seeing horse racing,” says Fravel. We’d bet on that.