Event preparation

In 2014, the management of Keeneland began to replace the synthetic Polytrack racing surface of its main race track with dirt. While the synthetic surface, installed in 2006, was considered safer for horses, it also was not popular with horse owners because it was too different from the dirt tracks where many major races were held. Returning the track to a dirt surface was a significant factor in Keeneland's bid host the Breeders' Cup in 2015. The Keeneland bid was successful and was officially announced on June 24, 2014.
2015 was the first year that the Breeders' Cup had ever been held at Keeneland. A track built in 1935 as "a model race track, to perpetuate racing in the proper manner", it had never handled crowds of the size anticipated for the Breeders' Cup and thousands of temporary seats had to be added without removing trees or otherwise changing the classic appearance of the facility. But, the facility had 1,100 acres (450 ha), which allowed for flexibility. Track management decided to only offer 28,000 reserved seats and that they would require all tickets for both reserved and general admission, to be purchased in advance. They created seating in buildings adjacent to the existing grandstands and planned to set up large tents and other temporary facilities, plus two tailgate areas with big-screen televisions for additional spectators. Keeneland's organizers estimated they would be able to host about 45,000 people.
The configuration of the Keeneland racetrack is unique compared to previous Breeders' Cup venues, requiring some races to be held at different distances than previous Breeders' Cups. The dirt track is a 1 1⁄16 miles (1,700 m) oval with two possible finish lines, and the turf course is seven and one-half furlongs (0.875 miles (1,408 m)) with a 1,190 feet (360 m) homestretch that is one of the longest in the United States. The use of the alternate finish line on the dirt course for the Dirt Mile, Juvenile, and Juvenile Fillies raised the possibility of confusing the jockeys, and the long turf stretch was viewed as giving a heavy advantage to closers.
The Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile had an unorthodox setup because Keeneland does not regularly hold 1–mile dirt races. To get the proper distance, the starting gate was set 70 yards (64 m) in front of the one-mile pole, where the timer would start, and the finishing line was set at the track's alternate finish line at the 1⁄16 mile pole, thus the race was slightly longer than a mile for the horses. Keeneland held four races at that distance in the 2015 Fall meet to test the configuration.[7]
The Filly & Mare Turf was conducted at 1 3⁄16 miles because the track's turf course configuration does not allow for the usual distance of 1 1⁄4 mile.[8]
Also due to the configuration of the turf course, the Turf Sprint was held at 5 1⁄2 furlongs[9] for the first time the history of the race, which had been run since 2008. Previously, the race was about 6 1⁄2 furlongs when held on the "downhill turf course" at Santa Anita Racetrack and 5 furlongs when held at Churchill Downs.