A BREEDERS’ CUP AT SANTA ANITA IN 2019 WOULD BE A TERRIBLE BLUNDER

About a week ago, I saw a classified ad in the Blood-Horse magazine offering to re-sell a clubhouse box for the 2019 Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita. This got me thinking how much trouble it would be to untangle business arrangements if the Breeders’ Cup board of directors were to move the event to another racetrack only four months out. Fans who have already bought tickets would be inconvenienced and contracts with many suppliers would be voided. What a complicated mess a move would create, I thought.

Then yesterday I heard that a 30th horse fatality had occurred at Santa Anita and a Hall of Fame trainer had been banned from all of The Stronach Group racetracks. Today, a friend who does not follow horse racing closely remarked to me about the carnage at one of America’s premier racetracks and he went on to say how public sentiment was surely turning against horse racing. Shortly afterwards, I got into my car to leave my friend’s house and a national radio network was broadcasting a report about the Santa Anita fatalities. It said calls were growing to shut down horse racing, not just at Santa Anita but nationwide.

Certainly, moving the event is no way to treat customers and vendors. However, staying at Santa Anita poses a risk of such magnitude that it overrides all other considerations. Should there be a fatality during a Breeders’ Cup race, recriminations will rightly be fast and furious in coming and horse racing will be dealt a powerful blow that it will take years, if ever, to recover from.

In terms of proportionality, the question of remaining at Santa Anita or going is lopsided. The decision is so obvious that one wonders “What is the Breeders’ Cup board of directors waiting on?”

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