For as long as races have been run in public, the sport of horse racing has been connected to fashion.
This sport has a long history of being operated and observed by the rich and powerful, and one characteristic of rich and powerful people across cultures and times is that they like to display their status through their clothing.
Therefore, while those who actually work with the horses are more likely to wear functional clothing such as boots and denim, the visual of the sport itself is imbued with lace, furs, and silk (not to be confused with the standard colors a “common” jockey would wear, of course).
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Although sport and life in general have moved away from emphasizing the abundance of the aristocracy, there still exists an air of formality around racetracks on their most prestigious days. Those who attend the Kentucky Derby, run at Churchill Downs in Kentucky since 1875, often enjoy dressing like southern belles. The people gathering at Saratoga in upstate New York, which has run its summer meet annually since 1863, almost invariably wear formal clothing.
The fashion choices of these crowds generally reflect the long histories of the events. But what of more modern traditions? Del Mar, in southern California, reflects the track’s proximity to Hollywood with a sleek, glamorous style. The racegoers at Gulfstream Park near Miami, Florida, have adopted a style suitable to the nightlife.
What Is The Breeders Cup?
One of the most important events in the horse racing calendar, just after the Triple Crown races, is the Breeders Cup. This race happens every November and, opposite to the Kentucky Derby, Belmont Stakes, or Preakness Stakes, the Breeders Cup changes location every year.
In 2023 the race will happen on the first weekend of November in Santa Anita Park, California. With $31 million paid out in purses and prizes over the weekend, the event is highly regarded by equestrian fans. The most famous race during the weekend is the Breeders Cup Classic for thoroughbreds 3 years or older.
What should one wear to the Breeders’ Cup series, Thoroughbred racing’s year-end championship event?
Consider The Location
One of the key features of the Breeders’ Cup series is that it does not have a permanent home. The series is designed to be moved from track to track each year all over the country, and while many major tracks have hosted the event on a number of occasions, it is very rare that one venue will host multiple years in a row. You can check here a complete list of past winners of this race: twinspires.com/breeders-cup/winners
While this makes watching the races quite exciting, it can complicate the matter of planning for them, as many tracks will have different cultural scenes and/or dress code requirements.
This year, the Breeders’ Cup series is being held at Santa Anita Park, a racetrack in Arcadia, California. The event itself has no formal dress code, although business casual is suggested. For men, this could involve sports coats, while women often wear neutral dresses or pantsuits with flashes of color in their headdresses or accessories. Bright colors are encouraged at the track, particularly purple and yellow, the official colors of the Breeders’ Cup series.
It is important to realize, as well, that while more casual dress may be overlooked in the infield or even the grandstand, this may not apply to all areas of the track. Certain box seats or fine dining establishments may have their own dress codes, either explicitly stated or socially understood. When unsure, you may want to err on the side of formality.
Consider The Weather
Another important factor to consider is what weather you are most likely to experience. The Breeders’ Cup races are being held on November 3rd and 4th, which would indicate the need for heavier cold-weather clothing in most parts of the United States. In southern California, however, the temperatures are likely to be quite a bit warmer, so outerwear aside from a light jacket is unlikely to be necessary.
In addition, all of the races and most of the seating at Santa Anita Park are outside with no overhead covering. While rain at the Breeders’ Cup races is uncommon, it is not unheard of, and so packing a raincoat or poncho just in case would be a good idea!