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Thursday, August 11, 2011

How Do We Get It Done?

The worst-kept secret in horse racing became official on Wednesday—the Breeders’ Cup is returning to Santa Anita in 2012. Was this decision made for the greater good of the sport? Surely you jest. Everything the Breeders’ Cup does these days is done solely for the benefit of a select number of individuals—and for as big a potential profit as possible. It has nothing to do with presenting the best horse racing possible, nor drawing the interest of fans. They’ve added too damn many races (over one too many days), and now they've pissed off New Yorkers by ignoring Belmont again. And it's all about needing to select a warm-weather site, my ass. How about a return to Lone Star then? Please, the "warm-weather" explanation is lame, not to mention disingenuous. Yes, I froze my tuckus off at Churchill last year, but that's hardly likely to happen again this year. Personally, I'd rather there be a slight chill in the air rather than roasting at 90 to 100 degrees. And besides, attending the races isn't about revealing as much boobage as possible, is it?

The Breeders' Cup organization has completely ignored the original mission of moving the event each year to various tracks, thus engaging a variety of local fans and boosting regional interest in the sport. Seriously, does anyone really think that it’s merely a coincidence that former Breeders’ Cup president Greg Avioli now works for Santa Anita (Frank Stronach) while current Breeders’ Cup president Craig Fravel last worked for another California track, Del Mar? I don’t think so. An inside job if ever there was one. What a joke!

Woodbine and Arlington have two of the finest turf courses in North America—and each has sponsored the event before. Why weren’t they considered? Oh, they could have applied some would argue, but the fact is, they knew better than to bother wasting time, as the BC is fixated on California and Kentucky, period.

Other than Californians, not many people are happy about the decision, if comments on forums and in the press are any indication. Most vocal in his outrage is Uncle Mo’s owner Mike Repole who suggests NYRA host its own championships by moving its top season-ending races to run head-to-head against the Breeders’ Cup. I don’t think it’s necessary to move them to the first weekend of November—simply moving key races to, say, Saturday October 20, and bumping up the purses would draw a significant group of prime contenders. And no stupid two-day event with diluted races. One day only with a pure, unadulterated orgy of racing. Can you imagine this 11-race card at Belmont?:

  1. G3 Pilgrim (2yo, 8.5f turf)
  2. G3 Miss Grillo (2yo fillies, 8.5f turf)
  3. G2 Kelso (3up, 1 mile)
  4. G2 Gallant Bloom (3up fillies/mares, 6.5f)
  5. G1 Vosburgh (3up, 6f)
  6. G1 Frizette (2yo fillies, 1 mile)
  7. G1 Champagne (2yo, 1 mile)
  8. G1 Flower Bowl (3up fillies/mares, 10f turf)
  9. G1 Beldame (3up fillies/mares, 9f)
  10. G1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (3up, 10f turf)
  11. G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup (3up, 10f)

What more contests do you need? These existing races cover it all. Oh, they could toss in a maiden special weight and maybe a couple of allowance races before and after to flesh it out a bit, but this would be an amazing card! It's about time someone stands up to the monstrosity that the Breeders' Cup has become.

Now, how do we get it done?


LindaVA said...

Great post! I'd be at Belmont in a heartbeat for that day of racing, and there is no way I can go to California for BC. I'd have much preferred Belmont, or even Lone Star, Woodbine or Arlington.

railrunner said...

It was so nice to see Repole step out and say something to counter the ridiculous actions of the Breeders' Cup. If they seriously get this series going at Belmont I'll be there every year no doubt, that's an amazing card of races!!


chiefdave said...

I wonder wht influence ESPN has on the selection. They love the interviews ith the "Celebrities" that are much eiser to obtain in CA, even NY

Amateurcapper said...

With all due respect to you Val, LindaVA, and Brian, I disagree with the idea of New York seceding from the Breeders' Cup and horse racing in general.

That idea of running the New York stakes on the same weekend, or even within a few weeks to stick it to the Breeders' Cup is not the right way to rectify the situation. That is divisive thinking that is tearing the sport we all love apart.

I encourage you to listen to Satish Sanan on At the Races w/ Steve Byk, Thursday August 11 during hour 2. He acknowledges that the best racing in the U.S. is in New York, considers NYRA's product one of the best circuits in the world. Sanan doesn't race in California anymore, admits not to being a fan of racing out here, but does sing the praises and supports New York racing. He states there's support within the BC for NY to host another Cup.

He pointed to certain criteria that the prospective host tracks need to meet some of which NYRA has fell short on before:
1. Sponsers (NY would meet easily)
2. Profitability (NY hasn't met in the past - the most important point)
3. Weather (NY can't control, then again neither can CD)
4. Pageantry/quality facilities (NY meets just as well as CD and SA)
5. Desirable to Euros (NY ranks below CD and SA)

2013 belongs to Belmont if NYRA can recognize and correct what the Breeders' Cup feels were shortcomings of their past proposals.

The ball is in NYRA's court. Will they throw it successfully through BC's hoops? Or, will they turn it over again?