I read that one of the things that the Breeders' Cup is considering moving forward is housing the event in one place permanently. Can I just say what a HORRENDOUS idea this is? I understand the thinking behind the suggestion, that if you centralize the Breeders' Cup in Kentucky then it plays fair for horses from both coasts and middle America. I also get that Churchill Downs is uniquely equipped to handle large crowds and that they have the annual experience of dealing with the madhouse that is the Derby every year. I get all that.
What I don't get is why the folks that run the Breeders' Cup continue to try to tweak the best event in the sport every year when they don't have to? First, it was let's make Ladies' Day on Friday. We'll add all these divisions of races that completely take away from the large fields we normally get when the BC was one day and have nine and ten horse fields instead of twelve and fourteen horse fields that offer ample betting opportunities. Then, they had to move the Marathon to Friday to create back-to-back Pick Sixes since just one wasn't enough. I won't even crucify the Cup people for having it at Santa Anita back-to-back years, because they were kind of shoehorned into that happening.
What happened to having a "rota" of tracks that the Breeders' Cup could go to with the big three of Belmont, Churchill, and Santa Anita joined by smaller tracks that could host the event like Monmouth, Arlington, Keeneland, and Woodbine? Wasn't that idea floating around not too long ago? Were the Cup overlords frightened away from this by the prospect of running too many Cups on synthetic surfaces? Well, it wasn't too long ago that synthetic surfaces were the wave of the future. Synthetic surfaces are just another thing that must be factored in when handicapping a race, like track bias, weather, and how the race will set up, just to name a couple.
You want to know what the Breeders' Cup needs to do. Go back to running the Cup in one day (Saturday). Make the program nine races (the original eight and add a turf sprint). Ensure that the Cup will be held at the big three tracks with a smaller venue sprinkled in every so often, so the event truly remains a national thing. After all, the NFL isn't dumb enough to play the Super Bowl in the same city every year, are they? Get the day of racing back on a major network (be it NBC, ABC, FOX, or CBS). Finally, keep the order of the races the same from year-to-year: Sprint, Turf Sprint, Juvenile Fillies, Mile, Juvenile, Filly+ Mare Turf, Distaff (not the Ladies' Classic), Turf, Classic (or something along these lines). This way bettors know what races are where and what wagers (like the Pick Six) would be used for each race. JUST STOP MESSING WITH IT!!! You have the greatest single day in racing at your fingertips every single year, why do you continue to close your hands?
Tune in tomorrow for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!