The Breeders' Cup announced today that they are planning to move the $500,000 Marathon from the Saturday card to the Friday card to allow there to be a Pick Six on Friday's six Breeders' Cup races.
Originally, the idea behind making the Breeders' Cup a two-day event was to showcase the distaff side of the sport with the five "Ladies" races getting there own day on Friday and the "Men's" races being run specifically on Saturday. Of course, there was nothing to prevent a female horse from running on the Saturday in one of the races on that day. So, now, they have blown away that idea by moving the Marathon (a "Men's" race) to create a new Pick Six.
Personally, I always thought that the Breeders' Cup was perfect with eight races. You had the excellent mix of races that highlighted every facet of Thoroughbred racing, which was the original intention of the Breeders' Cup when it was created. I would have accepted the idea of the addition of a turf sprint race to make it a nine-race card and add the one "possible" omission on the original schedule. That addition also would have eliminated the pre-race or post-race "local" races that were a part of any Breeders' Cup Day and were there more or less to round out the program. There would have been no need for that with the addition of a ninth race.
I also think the Breeders' Cup went astray when they took the Saturday event off of network TV. Don't get me wrong, like any sports fan, I love ESPN. I have stated repeatedly in this blog that I think Jeannine Edwards is fantastic and I think that about all of the ESPN horse racing coverage. The problem is "where is that coverage?" ESPN was supposed to become the network of horse racing and the voice of the sport. All that has happened in the last few years has been a reduction in the number of telecasts and the sport just about disappears on the network that is supposed to highlight it at the times when it is allegedly the most relevant (Derby time and Breeders' Cup time).
For everyone that thinks that horse racing is a sport in trouble, don't forget that many of the wounds are self-inflicted. Watering down the most important day (or two days) on the calendar by over-expansion and the lack of having that event on free network television are just further examples of that self-infliction.
Tune in tomorrow for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!