THE BREEDERS’ CUP SITE-SELECTION DECISION

The Breeders’ Cup was founded with the idea that it would be an annual year-end event held at racetracks in assorted geographical locations for the purpose of reaching out to fans and showcasing the very best in horse racing. Since its inaugural in 1984, the Breeders’ Cup has moved among ten racetracks located in eight different North American cities. Santa Anita has hosted the Breeders’ Cup four of the last six years and will again in 2014.

Notwithstanding the original concept of alternating sites, there is strong sentiment in the U. S. racing industry for the Breeders’ Cup board of directors to establish a permanent site at Santa Anita, where the races can be run in warm-weather against a scenic backdrop and the Classic can be telecast in prime time on the East Coast without the use of artificial lighting. Dissenters from this point of view often cite the fact that the Breeders’ Cup has had its best attendance and handle figures at Churchill Downs. Others cite the need to take the event to New York, the hub of the premier racing in North America.

In deciding between revolving sites or a permanent location, Breeders’ Cup directors are faced with the inherent trade-off between transparency and discretion in decision making. On the one hand, there are compelling entertainment-related reasons for establishing a permanent venue, and such clarity would also allow for better planning on the part of everyone concerned, including executives of the host site, owners, and trainers. On the other hand, the Breeders’ Cup organization would give up the discretion it currently has to adapt scheduling to contingencies.

Whether intended it or not, the Breeders’ Cup board has, by its actions, already designated a quasi-permanent home site, Santa Anita, with occasional visits to other racetracks. This seems like a reasonable compromise that provides a high degree of transparency without completely taking flexibility away from the Breeders’ Cup management and board.

Copyright © 2013 Horse Racing Business

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