Thursday, July 16, 2009

Breeders Cup Race Revisions

There was a great article on the Paulick Report about the Breeders Cup budget deficit and their insistence to raise purses (and create races) to compete with Sheik Mohamed’s Dubai World Cup day. Obviously, the Breeder’s Cup is in no position financially to go toe to toe with the Sheik. Especially with the ruler of Dubai set to raise the purse for the Dubai World Cup alone to a reported $10 million. (Twice the purse of the Breeders Cup Classic)

So what should the Breeders Cup do to cut costs while still staying competitive? Frankly I think they need to trim some of the fat off the two cards, go back to one day of racing and focus on improving the quality of their signature races.

Below are a breakdown of each race, purse changes I would make and what races I would eliminate altogether.

The biggest race of the year. Its purse should remain $5 million.

The purse should be increased to $4 million. It’s the second biggest race on the card and attracts the most interest internationally. Its purse should be undeniable as to continue to attract the best the world has to offer.


Should be reduced to $1.5 million. In many was this is now our signature race because it’s the one thing we’ve consistently bred for. With that said there is no need for an extremely lucrative purse because it lacks international appeal and will draw extremely deep regardless of the size of the purse.

Filly & Mare Turf
Should be reduced $1 million only to keep interest up abroad. We don’t produce very many top class turf horses so the purse should only stay credible in the eyes of invaders.

Turf Mile
Should be increased to $2 million for many of the above reasons. I’d give it a more lucrative purse because we produce more natural milers than classic distance horses and it has real appeal overseas.

Should be reduced to $750,000. I’ve never been a fan of lucrative purses for 2yo’s as I’ve never liked bottoming out young horses before their bodies develop. The prestige will attract the field and the purse does not need to entice international horses that use this race as an afterthought.

Juvenile Fillies

For the sake of gender equality only, I’d reduce the purse only to $750,000.

Filly and Mare Sprint
Any filly good enough to be a short price here should be in the actual Sprint. This is a race that dilutes other events. Eliminate.

Juvenile Turf

We produce so few good turf horses that the idea of having a 2yo turf race is absurd. Perhaps if there was a legitimate series leading up to the race id say give it a $250k purse and G3 status, but it really should be cut from the card. Eliminate

Juvenile Turf Fillies
Even less appealing than the above race. Eliminate.

This is the only newly created race that makes any sense, sadly the way its been implemented with its lousy purse (500k) and laughable “marathon” distance (12 furlongs) has made it nothing more than an afterthought. The great Kelso is laughing in his grave that a marathon is now a mile and half. I say boost the purse to $1 million and move it to 2 miles.

Dirt Mile

I really wanted to eliminate this race. Last year was a perfect example of what can go wrong when you give horsemen a chance to duck, doge and posture. Legit Classic horses like Well Armed and Mast Track avoided the big dance fishing for easier waters in the Dirt Mile. This race deserves no significant purse or it will continue to dilute the Classic field. I have had a small change of heart in eliminating this race because there are horses that are legitimate milers and nothing else. For that reason I’d make the race a $500k affair and hope for a G2 status. The prestige of the cup should keep the field honest but this purse size would be a major detraction for horsemen looking for the easiest spot possible.

Turf Sprint
This is a non-core surface for us and is one of the least popular divisions in the states. The purse should be reduced to $500k.

Ladies Classic
The female equivalent of the Classic should have a big purse only topped by the Classic and Turf. Raise to $3 million.

Total Tally: $20 million

Projected Card
Race 1 – Turf Sprint $500k
Race 2 – Dirt Mile $500k
Race 3 – Juvenile Fillies $750,000
Race 4 – Juvenile $750,000
Race 5 – Filly & Mare Turf Distaff $1M
Race 6 – Marathon $1M
Race 7 – Sprint $1.5M
Race 8 – Turf Mile $2M
Race 9 – Ladies Classic $3M
Race 10 – Turf $4M
Race 11 – Classic $5M

Now, these adjustments wouldn’t save them a huge amount of money, but it would trim 3 million in fat off the bone and condense the card to races that for the most part will attract large, competitive, world-class fields. Then you also have the reduced costs of not having to pay for the extra day of filming and the associated costs of such multi-day programming.

Next week I’ll dive into the flawed “Win and You’re In” program and give some new ideas for the series.


hecamp said...

Your rite on the money Tout, for a change.Eliminate 2d tier races and strengthen the BC.The product is always weakened when diluted with what amounts to water, for example:

The NHL was truly the fastest game on ice with its 6 original teams; every NBA game was a thrilling experience when there was only 8 teams competing and all 16 MLB team rosters had nothing but ALLSTARS. What the BC definitely does NOT need is a government Czar.

The_Knight_Sky said...

For the most part I agree.
But I'd also scrap The Marathon.

The breed is in no position to bestow honor on the current wave of Grade 3 plodders that are currently in training.

The Turf sprint is all about the break from the gate. Not everyone gets away cleanly. A split second is all it takes for "the wrong" horse to break free.

The two Juvy turf races should also be trashed. But I would keep the Filly/Mare sprint at a standard 6 furlong distance.

For the most part this seems like the general consensus around the web. Which means one thing: The Breeders Cup Ltd. won't do what's right. :(

A racing card with the entire line up of Breeders Cup races and "less filler" stakes should be the way to go. And I do believe in setting "Sunday as a rain date",
but that's another post for the future.