Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Those Were The Days

I am talking about those good old days like 2005 when the Breeders' Cup could go to a track like Belmont Park and produce a banner day of Thoroughbred racing. Not since 2005 has the Cup made its way to New York (no, Monmouth in 2007 does not count, that is New Jersey, not New York). That means that the Cup has never been able to do their two-day festival of racing at the largest racetrack in the country. Maybe I should rephrase that, they have been able to do it, they just have elected not to.

It is expected next week that Santa Anita will be announced as the host site of the year-end Championship event for the third time in the last five years. I understand that Santa Anita is a beautiful venue and now that they have reinstalled a dirt racing surface, as opposed to the synthetic they had there the last two times the Cup was in California, it does make sense for the Cup to make its return to Santa Anita. However, why couldn't it be done in 2013? Is it right that the Breeders' Cup be run three times at Santa Anita (and twice at Churchill Downs, for that matter) since the last time Belmont hosted the event? Of course it isn't right. Isn't New York the media mecca of this country? Isn't New York the city that most of the world thinks of when they think of the U.S.A? Is New York now inconsequential when it comes to Thoroughbred racing?

The shame of this apparent dismissal of Belmont Park when it comes to a Breeders' Cup rotation is that when you think about it, maybe the most inspirational moment in Breeders' Cup history occurred at Belmont Park. The Breeders' Cup was the first major event held in New York City in the wake of the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. The 2001 Breeders' Cup provided many incredible moments with Bobby Frankel's first Breeders' Cup win in the Sprint with Squirtle Squirt, the European dominance on the day with Fantastic Light winning the Turf, Johannesburg winning the Juvenile, Tempera in the Juvenile Fillies, and Banks Hill in the Filly & Mare Turf. Finally, the European contingent was held at bay in an unforgettable Classic with Tiznow digging in and holding on to win over Sakhee with Tom Durkin's electric call of, "Tiznow wins it for America!". If that doesn't give you goosebumps, I don't know what will.

I know that Belmont Park will get its turn again to host the preeminent event in Thoroughbred racing on this continent. It has to host a Breeders' Cup again. Maybe it will be 2013 and then again, maybe it won't. Whenever it does occur, the longer the wait for the Breeders' Cup to return to New York, the sadder it is for the state of the sport.

Tune in again tomorrow for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

No comments: