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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

As the Breeders' Cup, and Greatness, Turns

Paulick writes that Monmouth is in the "driver's seat" for the 2013 Breeders' Cup, which confuses me a little because I thought it was committed to Santa Anita and Churchill Downs for most of the rest of eternity.  Interesting piece; he discusses the no-Lasix rules that the BC is planning to impose...and the fact that the horsemen could in theory block out-of-state simulcasting under the Interstate Horseracing Act, "which requires approval of the representative horsemen’s organization at the host track for any interstate simulcast," should they not approve of those restrictions.  New Jersey horsemen have indicated that, though they oppose the blanket banning of Lasix, they're OK with it for the Breeders' Cup.  "That kind of cooperation is why some think Monmouth Park is in the driver's seat to become host in 2013," according to Paulick.

However, such approvals are not needed in New York State, which is exempt from the law.  According to the article: 

  NYRA last hosted the Breeders’ Cup at Belmont Park in 2005, and it was widely believed the event would return to the Long Island, N.Y., racetrack next year after such a lengthy hiatus. But that was before the upheaval created by a takeout scandal rocked NYRA’s management, leading to the dismissal of CEO Charles Hayward and the move by Cuomo to reconstruct NYRA’s board of directors with political appointees. That NYRA board reconstruction, which has yet to begin, leaves too many questions unanswered about the future of the racing association for the comfort of many Breeders’ Cup directors. [Paulick Report]
Hmmm.  Seems like really odd reasoning to me, considering that the future of Monmouth was up in the air just a few months ago when last year's lessee Morris Bailey dropped out of the picture.  Now it's leased for five years to the NJ horsemen, and, though they claim to be on a path to profitability largely, one would surmise, due to the OTB location in Woodbridge as well as plans for several more locations and up to 12 outlets in restaurants and bars, can one really say that there are less questions about a track in a slots-less state with a hostile governor (even moreso I'd say than Cuomo) who had no qualms about the industry going under, then in New York?  The Cuomo takeover aside, and the questions it may (or may not) raise, NYRA surely isn't going anywhere, secure in its slots revenues.  Well, at least for the next three years anyway.

So, can't say I really understand that reasoning.  Just seems as if the Breeders' Cup doesn't want to have their event in New York, period.  And maybe the negative vibes and publicity from the security barn at the Belmont didn't help.

Well, that's fine, I'm not complaining, Monmouth is cool, hope it's still around for the event.  Had a great time there even in the rain last time.  Besides, I have a bit of a problem with Belmont as far as Breeders' Cup races go.  Think that championship route races should be around two turns and, as you probably know, all races there up to a mile and an eighth are run around one turn, which makes it more like a long sprint race as far as I'm concerned.  Even the mile and a quarter Classic starts on the turn, making it a 1 1/2 turn race, if that.  I was talking to a buddy at Belmont on Saturday about this; he was saying that races should have turns, as many as possible.  (I know that some people in Europe decry the turns, say it causes injuries, but I think that applies more to sprinters running all out on hard dirt surfaces....though I could be wrong about that.)  That's where a lot of races are decided, and they test the agility of the animal and the split-second decision making of the jockey. 

We were discussing the matter of turns with respect to Frankel.  I don't really follow European racing unless I'm at the Arc, so I was surprised when I saw the replay of his win at Royal Ascot last week and saw that the race had zero turns; run down a straightaway.  And I was also surprised, considering all the lavish and adoring praise I was reading on Twitter the morning that he ran - including tweets placing him amongst the great horses of all time - to see that he's never run further than a mile, and never raced outside of his home turf in the UK.  So, with respect to Frankel being "great," as far as I'm concerned, he doesn't even deserve to be mentioned in the same breath...nor in the same paragraph as...

....Forego.  Or John Henry.  Because to me...and again, this is just my opinion....the truly "great" horses throughout history are the ones who accepted every challenge their connections could find - raced on different surfaces, at different distances, overcoming adversity, coming back to race at short intervals again and again and, in particular, conceding copious amounts of weight to worthy challengers.  (Or, at least, as in a case such as Niatross, who, as a standardbred, did not concede weight nor race at different distances, 37 wins in 39 attempts against top pacers at a myriad of tracks would qualify too.)  In other words, the kind of horse we don't see anymore, and will quite likely never again see in our lifetimes.  I feel really privileged to have been able to see those horses run.  And I can understand why those who are younger or newer to the game would toss "great" around for a horse like Frankel.  To me, he's shown that he's brilliant.  And I suppose one can use the word great.  But not great!  In my book, he hasn't even been given the chance to be great.  Even Zenyatta, who mostly stayed home in California to race on familiar ground against familiar opponents, was at least given that chance in her final start; and she rose to the occasion, even in defeat.   From what I've read about Frankel, he will not be given that chance.  And that's too bad.  Because maybe he really is great.  Not in my book though.

So, I think I'll end this post with what I consider to be some true greatness.  Watching these horses, the idea that Frankel, after 11 starts, has achieved a comparable level seems like a joke.


August Song said...

Forget one, Alan?

Figless said...

Agree with everything you wrote, the Paulick article is pure speculation and not very well thought out for the reasons you mentioned. While NY is in flux, if you had to wager on which track would be more certain of being open in three years Belmont would be 1-9 over MTH. It might be under construction, of course, but it will be running.

BC will not give their event to either of these locations due to uncertainty.

Agree as well on Frankel, while impressive he can not be considered GREAT unless his connections let him step out of his comfort zone. There is no reason to believe, based on pedigree, that he can't get 12f so let him try. Run in the ARC, or the BC Turf, if he destroys one of those fields then we can CONSIDER placing him in the companies of the GREAT horses of all time. Until then he is a terrific miler.

Figless said...

I am not even sure Frankel could win a G1 American Race at one mile, with a legit pace up front.

I suspect he would be fine but can not be sure until/unless he tries.

Indulto said...

I've been waiting for you to weigh in on the Deby eligibility changes for 2013. You always seem to offer unique nuances in such situations.

The BC at MTH sounded more speculative than lrealistic, but it drove at least as much traffic to the Paulick Report as MTH held at a standstill when it last hosted the BC.

It's just another case of the edge-taking that drives our game. John Velazquez is sidelined and Joel Rsario takes his shot in the same way Garrett Gomez did before him.

NYRA was blinded by a takeout sunset it couldn't see, so the Joisey troll booth operators moved to bring the Breeders' Cup across the GW Bridge in a takeover bid mirroring Governor activism on both sides of the Hudson. If Phipps and Janney are retained on the NYRA board, my guess is that Belmont will retain the BC.

Anonymous said...

C'mon guys. BC didn't go to nyra as BC demands on taking almost all the profit and leaves the track with the wondrous virtue of a marketing event. One which has no lingering repeat customer. One which lets BC descend on the track, call the shots and piss off the employees who get nothing from it but aggravation.

That's the whole picture. With money being the 1:5 favorite.