- Looks like we've been duped all along. Jess Jackson was merely being coy about his intentions to run Curlin in the Classic. It was all just marketing, or at least that's what we're told with smug self-assurance by Ray Paulick on ESPN.com. Internet fan forums and bloggers have kept the "will he or won't he" flame alive, Paulick informs us with sufficient detachment from those groups. (Though he certainly seemed to buy into Jackson's brilliant ploy himself here.)
In the end, we all know that Curlin will be in the starting gate at Santa Anita Oct. 25 for the Breeders' Cup Classic. He's already shipped to California to test the new racetrack and Jackson has a large block of hotel rooms reserved for Breeders' Cup week.Indeed Jess, teach us a little more. After all, you've done such a great job of marketing your horse that all of 8,000 people showed up to see him run on Saturday. In the general public's mind, Curlin is clearly playing second fiddle to a three-year old who, other than winning the Derby, has not accomplished nearly as much as last year's HOY.
But please, Jess, keep us in suspense for a couple more weeks. You're giving us something to talk about, and the industry might learn a thing or two from you about marketing. [ESPN.com]
And blithely dismissing the Classic, the ultimate championship race of the racing year, as "been there, done that" is really a great way to build excitement for the race. How many people who may have heard that are now tuned into far more profound current events and forever tuned out of this year's races? As presidential campaign strategists well know, once a statement or a charge is out there, it's hard to take back. And the constant drumbeat of skepticism about the Santa Anita surface certainly hasn't helped either. Not that there isn't excellent reason for such doubt. But marketing means that you attempt to smooth the questions over, not drum them into peoples' consciousness over and over and over again.
Paulick argues that had Jackson merely declared his intent to run in the race, "there would have been little for fans to argue about or racing journalists to write about until the two horses stepped onto the same racetrack." Actually, I think that many of the arguments would have been just as intense, and exactly the same. Except they would have been framed in a positive manner, building up the anticipation for the showdown instead of casting a long shadow on the very integrity of racing's championship day that may be extremely difficult to undo, no matter who decides to show up, or not.