The Friday Show Presented By Woodbine Racetrack: Radical Ideas, Rank Rankings?

by | 10.06.2017 | 9:00am
The Breeders' Cup will be held at Del Mar for the first time this year

On last week's episode of The Friday Show, Scott Jagow and Ray Paulick discussed the issue of horse racing's stars skipping the major preps for the Breeders' Cup. This week, they delve into the status of the Breeders' Cup itself.

Is the event all it could be in 2017 when one considers the TV ratings, betting handle and international appeal? If not, what might be done to give the Breeders' Cup a bit of a makeover?

Plus, are the World's Best Racehorse Rankings anything more than confusing?

Watch the latest edition of The Friday Show below and share your thoughts.

  • Michael Castellano

    Interesting discussion. What the problem with anything racing does, is that it is not franchised, and is composed of many separate competing interests. Moving the Breeder’s Cup earlier will step on someones toes, later in the year in still runs into Football. But probably the worst aspect of modern racing is the increasingly shorter careers combined with an increasing use of drugs. The Breeder’s Cup is not immune to this decline in the breed and its soundness. And the failure of many of the contenders to have prep-races raises questions as to the actual quality/soundness of the horses and what is being done between races. All this combines to lessen interest in the sport. For what it’s worth, my own idea would be to separate the BC into dirt and grass meets. Dirt would be the current time and be rotated around the country, and grass would be moved to a warm weather Winter site, and be held in January for the previous year. That might attract more European horses and run up less against football..

    • Michael Banis

      You hit the nail on the head, “not franchised” In Australia, for example, there is ONE racing commission. One track is not allowed to dominate because of population base. The bet take in Australia is THREE TIMES that of the US with their only 24 million in population, a tenth of the US.

      And how can you call it the World championships when the Classic is not even the richest race in the world, being in at number 4?

      And my personal one, horses should be forced to run as an entry if they have the same trainer. How can new or local trainers compete when a guy flys in two and has one local in a race. The race probably goes to the guy not supporting the local economy, no stalls, no local grooms, and the local jockeys get pushed aside for the big races.

      US horse racing is bush league, all the other pro sports figured this out long ago, you have to have revenue sharing and controls on athlete movement, otherwise you are left with a small market in big population bases only.

      • Tango F

        Australia also doesn’t suffer the people who circumvent the rules – they have harsh consequences

        • Lehane

          A 28 year old harness racing trainer in Queensland (Australia) has just been found guilty of race fixing in a Brisbane civil court and fined $5,000 (pathetic when one thinks about all the bettors that have been horribly cheated and lost money).
          However, the integrity commissioner of Qld Racing has banned the trainer for life – he can never hold a licence in harness, thoroughbred or greyhound racing in that state. If he ever applies for a licence elsewhere in Australia, i doubt very much that one would be granted.
          Meaningful punishments like this one is what racing must do, imo.

          • Tango F

            agreed. let the cheaters go sell insurance or clean pools for a living

    • Decimus_D

      I would almost flip it. In my humble opinion the best turf courses are farther North. I far prefer to play the grass at Woodbine, Belmont, Laurel, Saratoga, or those couple days at Arlington over Gulfstream, Santa Anita, or Del Mar. Ill be honest, my favorite turf course in California is Golden Gate. Then again I am a strange bird.

      • Michael Castellano

        California and Florida are the only dead of Winter options, but Woodbine, Saratoga, or Belmont in January on the grass is impossible.

      • Shasta Sam

        Woodbine turf course is wonderful and I read they are putting in a 2nd one. Like you, I really like the Golden Gate turf as well.

    • Noelle

      Agree about the lack of central management and the awful influence of drugs, legal and illegal. Authorities in the various U.S. racing jurisdictions all protecting their own little power bases are so short-sighted. Centrally managed racing flourishes in England, Japan and Australia – not so much here.

    • L.L.Kauffman

      Leagues and “franchises” simply do not work for this sport. Appreciate racing for its unique attributes.

      • Michael Castellano

        Which is one reason why the sport has declined so much. Clearly, the tracks themselves at least have the ability to franchise their efforts. There is no racing without a track. That leverage can be used if combined functionally and legally.

  • Gate To Wire

    Enable > Winx

    • Rebekah Lane

      Hard to gauge which is better, given that they race over different distances and on different continents, but I’d certainly put Enable even with Winx and both ahead of Arrogate (as of now).

    • Allan

      Its the same as Rachel vs Zenyatta. all over again. 3 year old vs older mare. very hard to compare. unless they race each other.

  • Genellen

    Two days of BC races is too much. Honestly, at the end of the weekend, I am hard-pressed to remember who won what, other than the major divisional races. I also think it’s too California-based, and that’s a factor related to weather that late in the year.

    I would return it to one day and move it to mid-September, after Del Mar/Saratoga finish their customary meets. Maybe hold it at more than one track? X number of races here, X number there, whatever best fits the division. I’m not sure NBC would like to spread its coverage out that much, and it would be less of a “party,” but is that luring, female voice trying to make the BC sound sexy in the voiceovers leading into their “Win and You’re In” coverage really doing that much to make the BC sound like it’s something people other than racing fans really want to watch? Frankly, she just annoys me. I understand that they are trying to make the BC into a Ky. Derby-style party, but the Derby is unique and the BC can’t come close to that type of public appeal.

    These are just off-the-cuff thoughts, but something should change. I’ve loved racing for decades, and the BC doesn’t do as much for me as it should. Plus, it has degraded the value of the big East Coast races that used to make autumn in NY something to look forward to. As Ray and Scott pointed out last week, trainers are keeping their horses in the barn waiting, waiting, waiting, instead of racing.

    • Noelle

      I would think mid-September is too soon after Saratoga and too close to the Arc. Horses that competed in the Woodward and the Travers would likely not be ready, and the top class Europeans that might consider coming would likely not come 2 weeks before the Arc. One day sounds good, though. Or maybe 2 days, but make it Saturday and Sunday (who cares about NFL football?)

  • horsepower

    More Great Work by PR – Always advocating for doing The BEST we can do for Racing & Breeding. YES – move the BC races around the globe a bit on occasion. WO has awesome turf course. World Rankings are crazy WINX is the ONLY choice for best in world at the moment.

    • Lehane

      Yep, she’s just won her 21st consecutive win!
      She seems to go better the counter-clockwise direction.
      Jockey said she was more comfortable going this way, he opined recently that she prefers running on her Melbourne leg and one of her owners has just mentioned that she definitely goes better down there.
      Our gorgeous girl WINX continues to reign supreme….. what a magnificent mare!

  • Tango F

    Oh, the unintended consequences of allowing unethical people to thrive.

    Yes, please just ignore the Longines “Rankings” … don’t report them anymore, as they are a complete farce.

  • David Worley

    Good show Scott and Ray.

    Americans TEND to be ignorant of the rest of the world. The Breeder’s Cup is clearly not a ‘world’ championship and Winx is clearly the best horse currently running the world. These aren’t even really debatable questions; if you are aware of a larger scope of global racing you can see things for what they are. If the BC intends to be ‘world’ championships the races need to rotate around the globe, not just America.

    I think all the BC 2YO races should be eliminated (four in total) and it should be a one day event. I like the idea of moving it to late August and I have a hard time understanding how this significantly impinges on Saratoga or Del Mar especially since they could host the event frequently.

    Racing in the US has so many problems that will only be rectified when we finally get a league (particularly for older horses). Until then, it will be a descending spiral for the sport.

    • Tom Davis

      Del Mar could host the event but the weather in upstate NY in late summer would be a problem.

    • Shhhhhhhh. Americans think they invented horse racing and the thoroughbred.

    • Always Curious

      I agree! except the part about going around the globe with the BC. The BC is now our Super Bowl of Racing. It’s our Royal Ascot, which doesn’t move. We need to get with the rest of the world on race day medication/universal rules. If we can race by the rest of the world’s rules, then they may come here. They may respect us if our horses win in Europe. Seeing a horse like Winx gives me hope for the breed. Horses used to be like that here.

  • Beau Geste

    I have been less interested in the Breeders Cup since the expansion to two days. For me, the impact was diluted rather than enhanced by the addition of races. My suggestion would be to limit the Breeders Cup to one day’s full card.

    • L.L.Kauffman

      I love the two day format.

  • Michael Castellano

    Expanding on the fact that 10 races careers are becoming the norm, and that has been helping put the nail in racing’s coffin, that also translates into five or less starts per year. The BC was supposed to play a major role in determining horse of the year honors. That role is now questionable given the dodging of many formerly prestigious races. We will never see the days again when great horses were repeated matched against each other. When Affirmed met Alydar 10 times! And they finished one or two nine of those times. The wide distribution of large stakes purses has also diluted many of the classic races.

  • Meg Hiers

    I don’t think changing up the timing of the BC is going to work all that well. And really the only two international places that have both turf and dirt race tracks are Japan and Dubai. However, it seems to me that what has come about quite naturally is a series of international carnivals- Dubai in early Spring, Ascot in early Summer, L’Arc in mid Fall, and BC in late Fall, and then Hong Kong in Winter. It is hard to incorporate the southern hemisphere because the opposite timing with juveniles and three year olds. However, I do think if all these entities worked together to really lay out a good spacing between the events and really marketed them as a “world series”, it would make for an overarching international series with the national racing continuing along in the background. I also think that you could have the HK international turf racing and stage some dirt racing in Japan on the weekend before/after. It would be far easier for Australians to make those races. and South Africans already do well in Dubai and will maybe soon be able to ship more easily into other locations as well. South Americans also already frequent both Dubai and Breeders Cup. The BC was so successful that it has inspired many of these type meetings. Take advantage of that. While obviously the same horses could not compete in every carnival, enough could compete in several that you would end up getting a much better overall idea of the relative merits of the ratings. This basically already happens, but formalizing the structure I think would make for some great racing and betting. I think of it like soccer- you have all the pro leagues, but the World Cup is the focus.

  • john davies

    I moved to the USA in 1983, I live in a state where gambling (except for state sponsored numbers game or the stock market) is frowned upon and some sort of mortal sin, so residents like me who love the game have to either break the law of the land by betting online or drive 140 miles to the greyhound track in Birmingham Alabama to bet legally. To me this is one of the biggest problems with US racing to many people cannot bet legally, I have told so many people that if I want to have a bet on US horse racing I ask my brother who lives in England to walk about 400 yards to his local Ladbrokes shop and puts bets on for me, ABSURD.
    I do not know the answers to many of the questions the show posed, as there are to many entities involved, but here are my experiences with the Breeders cup. When I learned of the BC I was excited what a great idea, Euros on the grass and Americans on the dirt, a chance to see the horses I knew from back home, and it was going to move around the country. So when in 1988 it was coming to the famed Churchill downs ordered my tickets, I saved up $700 there were seven races in those days, we had friends who lived in Nashville so they looked after our kids for the weekend, I live in Atlanta by the way so Nashville is on the way. It was warm on the Friday 74F but a cold front come thru and the rain fell, I was not deterred I had my shiny tickets, we got to Churchill downs, sorry but I was upset in 1988 it was a run down racetrack, my shiny tickets had me on the first bend, you could not see across the track for the tents in the middle, I was looking straight down the home straight so you could not tell who was winning, and then it started to bloody snow!!!!!!!!! I used the $700 for Xmas presents. Some one sitting close said it was at Gulfstream next year it will be much better there, so I went in January to check it out, they were right, I got seats in the restaurant on the first bend terrific day except I know its debatable Pat Days awful ride on Easy Goer. I have been to several other Breeders cups, woodbine, my local track my wife is from Chicago, Arlington how could anyone not like Arlington, but lots of people who only go racing once in the year did not like it, you heard them all talking about how cold it was, let me tell you something I know its gets cold in Chicago but until you spent a evening at Windsor in July when its raining you have no idea what cold is. Santa Anita it was 95F and they run out of beer by the second race, there were fights breaking out for drinks, it took one race to get food. The best run and organized by far was Keeneland, by far of the ones I have been to, and they had a triple crown winner coming, very professional you parked and they took you in by bus, very well run, the weather was so so by early November in KY what do expect, but the TV companies don’t like uncertainty that’s why Arlington and the Northern tracks don’t get their fair share. I hope the Breeders Cup continues, like last year I will probably drive and sit at a dog track watching the beautiful people who only go once a year talking to the reporters at Del Mar, I could of course get my brother to put my bets on at Ladbrokes and sit in the comfort of my own home and watch, but that does not help American horse racing.

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