Barbara Banke Named First Female Chairman of Breeders' Cup

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Barbara Banke | Coady

The Breeders' Cup Board of Directors unanimously elected Barbara Banke as Board Chairman Friday night, the organization announced Saturday. Banke, the owner of Stonestreet Farms in Lexington and chairman of Jackson Family Wines, becomes the first woman to chair Breeders' Cup Limited and succeeds Fred Hertrich III.

Banke, whose will serve a two-year term as Chairman, was first elected as a Breeders' Cup Member in 2012 and was elected to the Board of Directors in 2014. Gainesway Farm's Antony Beck was elected for a two-year term as Vice Chairman.

“It is a great honor to be named Chairman of the Breeders' Cup Board of Directors, and I look forward to serving with my fellow Directors and Members in continuing the mission and vision of the Breeders' Cup World Championships in support of our nominators and our racing fans around the world,” said Banke. “I also congratulate our new Vice Chairman Antony Beck and greatly look forward to working together closely. In addition, I extend my warmest thanks to Fred Hertrich, who provided the Breeders' Cup with outstanding leadership throughout his tenure as Chairman. Fred's vision was key to several successful strategic initiatives over the last few years, including advancements in equine safety and integrity efforts, innovative approaches to improving the fan experience, and the successful running of the 2020 World Championships amid the COVID-19 pandemic. As Chairman, I look forward to working closely with stakeholders across the industry to ensure a bright future for Breeders' Cup Limited, the World Championships, and the sport of Thoroughbred racing.”

In addition to her tenure as a leading owner and commercial breeder, Banke is a steward of The Jockey Club (TJC) and a member of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (TOBA), the National Racing Museum and Hall of Fame, and Keeneland's Advisory Board of Directors. Banke has also been a strong proponent of industry safety initiatives, including the Thoroughbred Safety Coalition and the passage of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA). Under her direction, Stonestreet has bred and raised horses that have won more than 120 stakes races. Among Stonestreet's top runners have been two-time Horse of the Year Curlin and additional Horse of Year Rachel Alexandra. Outside of the Thoroughbred industry, Banke began heading up Jackson Family Wines in 2011 and led the company as the nation's largest seller of premium wines. She is also a lawyer and a philanthropist.

“The Directors have made a very wise choice in electing Barbara Banke as the next Chair of the Breeders' Cup,” said Hertrich. “In her service as a Member and a Director, Barbara has instituted bold and innovative approaches to help strengthen and enhance the stature of the Breeders' Cup as 'the best of the best.' On a personal note, I have immensely enjoyed working with our industry stakeholders, our Members, and fellow Directors during my four years as Chairman.”

During his four years as Chairman, Hertrich led the Breeders' Cup in advancing equine safety and integrity efforts across the industry. As a founding member of the Thoroughbred Safety Coalition, Breeders' Cup implemented a ban on all race-day medications from the World Championships. Hertrich also led Breeders' Cup's strong support of the passage of the HISA by Congress in 2020.

Additionally, during Hertrich's tenure as Chairman, the Breeders' Cup World Championships purses and awards were increased to more than $31 million, and a 14th race (the Juvenile Turf Sprint) was added to the Championship roster. Breeders' Cup also set wagering and overall handle records during Hertrich's term. The highest all-sources handle in Breeders' Cup history ($174,628,986) was set in 2019 and record on-track Breeders' Cup handle ($24,181,317) was set at Del Mar in 2017. Hertrich also led the company in safely holding the 2020 World Championships at Keeneland amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Following Friday's election, the Board of 14 Breeders' Cup Directors is as follows: Barbara Banke, Stonestreet Farms (Chairman); Antony Beck, Gainesway Farm (Vice Chairman); Jimmy Bell, Godolphin America; Alan Cooper, Niarchos Family/Flaxman Holdings Ltd.; William S. Farish, Jr., Lane's End Farm; Drew Fleming, Breeders' Cup Limited (President), Eric Gustavson, Spendthrift Farm; Walker Hancock, Claiborne Farm; Fred Hertrich III, Watercress Farm; Bret Jones, Airdrie Stud; Clem Murphy, Coolmore Stud; Gavin Murphy, SF Bloodstock; Alex Solis II, Solis/Litt Bloodstock; and Elliott Walden, WinStar Farm.

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