2013 BREEDERS’ CUP IN REVIEW

The Breeders’ Cup Classic was indeed a classic, with three horses and jockeys battling right to the wire. Ironically, the rider of Mucho Macho Man, Gray Stevens, was encouraged earlier this year to make a comeback by none other than D. Wayne Lukas, trainer of Will Take Charge, the second place horse who lost by an eyelash. Stevens rode the Lukas-trained Oxbow to win the 2013 Preakness and also won the Breeders’ Cup Distaff on Beholder.

The view here is that this was the best Classic since Sunday Silence barely held off Easy Goer in 1989. In the newspaper picture I saw of the Classic finish, it is difficult to determine whether Mucho Macho Man or Will Take Charge won…it was that close.

Give credit to the Coolmore Stud connections who travel from the Emerald Isle every year to try and best the Americans at their game on dirt. These folks are sportsmen in the true sense of the word. They nearly won the Classic with Giant’s Causeway in 2000 and came close again yesterday with Declaration of War. Coolmore’s win in the Turf Classic with Magician was emphatic.

Congratulations to Kathy Ritvo, who became the fifth woman to win a Breeders’ Cup race and the first to win the Classic. She is a survivor, literally, with her young life being saved by a heart transplant.

The only sad element to a stellar day of racing Saturday was the loss of Secret Compass in the Juvenile Fillies and the injury to her jockey John Velazquez. Here’s hoping for a speedy recovery for Johnny V., who reportedly has had surgery to remove his spleen.

Besides the Classic, I thought the most impressive performance was by the sensational filly Dank in the Filly & Mare Turf.

While it is welcome news that handle was up on the Friday card by 8% and 13% on the Saturday card, the results were measured against the abnormal 2012 event, when Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on the East Coast and greatly affected wagering.

The television coverage was generally well-done, given that there was so much time to fill between races. Some of the material discussed or mentioned by the announcers was repeated, but this is inevitable because viewers are coming and going during the day and night. With the possible exception of television coverage of the Olympics, horse racing telecasts delve more into human interest stories than other sports. Sometimes it gets a little redundant and syrupy.

The Breeders’ Cup should return to its original format of seven or eight races run on a Saturday because the expanded arrangement has diluted the brand. Some of the races are picayune and are of interest only to the most avid fans of horse racing.

The races that don’t make the cut for the Saturday card can be eliminated or moved to racetracks around the country during September and October, and this would allow several racetracks besides the host site to promote a graded stakes to its fans. The Distaff needs to be held on the main Saturday program.

Overall, the 2013 Breeders’ Cup was an excellent show, and management of the Breeders’ Cup and Santa Anita proved to be quite adept.

Copyright © 2013 Horse Racing Business

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