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Monday, October 28, 2013

Should The Breeders' Cup be a two day event?

The first Breeders' Cup 30 years ago had seven races all in one day and it has since doubled with 14 races spread over two days:  Five races are run on Friday and nine on Saturday.  Personally, I do not have a problem with the amount of races and maybe they have the right schedule after six tries since switching to a two-day event.

The two-day expansion began in 2007 when they added three new Breeders' Cup races: The Filly & Mare Sprint, The Juvenile Turf and The Dirt Mile.  These three were run on Friday with the other eight the following day.  

In 2008, they deemed Breeders' Cup Friday "Ladies Day" with five Breeders' Cup events all for fillies and mares and the new name for the Distaff was The Ladies Classic.  The all-male schedule of eight races was run on Saturday.

The next year they added The Marathon to the five female Breeders' Cup races on Friday and the remaining eight were run on Saturday.  The same schedule was kept for the 2010 edition.

In 2011, another Breeders' Cup race was added: The Juvenile Sprint and that was added to the Friday program while The Marathon was added to the Saturday program.  This was also the order for the 2012 Breeders' Cup.

This year, the Juvenile Sprint was eliminated, The Ladies Classic went back to its original name The Distaff and the schedule for the two days was changed once again.  Five races will be run on Friday: The Marathon, The Juvenile Turf, The Dirt Mile, The Juvenile Fillies and The Distaff.  The other nine races will be run on Saturday.

Four of what may be the least popular races are on Friday along with The Distaff which is the marquee event of the day.  The Marathon and The Dirt Mile often attracts horses that are not quite Grade 1 material, but they do merit a chance for a Breeders' Cup Trophy.  As for The Juvenile Turf and Juvenile Fillies Turf, these two events are often grab bags as the average odds of the winner of The Juvenile Turf is 8/1 and the average odds for The Juvenile Fillies Turf is 10.4/1. 

This seems like a good schedule especially as The Distaff deserves its own spotlight as we have seen three females win horse of the year honors over the last five years (Rachel Alexandra, Havre De Grace and Zenyatta). 

There are those that may see this as greed by The Breeders' Cup and there are those that think there are just too many races.  Well, we live in an age where horse racing is marketed around multi-Stakes days which often includes the biggest race of a meet (i.e. Travers Stakes or Pacific Classic).  We see this at meets across the country and this is a way to attract fans (new and old) along with corporate sponsorships.  Race tracks are not exactly money makers anymore and we have seen that recently with Bay Meadows being torn down a few years ago and next year Hollywood Park closing.

I do feel that The Breeders' Cup is now more than established in the industry and is a marquee event in the world of sports to have 14 races spread over two days.  True, it is expensive for admission and seats, but it is that way for the championships in the four major sports in this country and those around the world such as the Olympics or World Cup Soccer.  Who knows, maybe in the next 10 years we'll see a few more races added such as The All-Geldings Nine Furlong Dirt or perhaps The All-European Marathon Turf.  Either way, I'll be more than interested!

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