The following commentary on the Breeders' Cup announcement to suspend funding of 2009 stakes supplements was written by Rob Whiteley, who for 18 years ran Carl Icahn's Foxfield commercial breeding operation and now owns Liberation Farm, one of the Thoroughbred industry's largest and most successful breeding entities. He can be reached at [email protected]. As with any guest commentary we publish, the views do not necessarily represent those of the Paulick Report.
By Rob Whiteley
The decision by the Breeders' Cup management to completely drop the supplemental stakes program, totally confirms that the inmates are running the asylum. Dropping all 121 supplemental stakes clearly shows how encapsulated and insulated executives, who lack a comprehensive understanding of the industry or a conscientious concern for fiduciary responsibility to its broad-based constituents, can make ill-conceived judgments without proper oversight and supervision. My friend John Gaines must be turning over in his grave at this level of arrogance and incompetence.
For Foxfield or for Liberation Farm, I have accounted for over $1 Million in fee support to the Breeders' Cup and much more than that when pro-rated fees for stallion interests are included. My partners have contributed close to another million. The amount returned to myself and co-breeders has been far less than 10% of that contribution. Meanwhile, those of us who pay through the nose to put on the show still have to pay inflated fees for standard tickets while regular race-goers at host tracks get kicked out of their boxes. Who makes these decisions? Why do we tolerate this treatment? Now we have this stunning, surreal announcement.
Breeders' Cup is not only mismanaged, Breeders' Cup is misnamed. Breeders' Cup is an oxymoron.
How was this stunning decision arrived at? Who was consulted? Was the entire board polled and given an opportunity to provide input? Was comment sought from those of us who provide the funding for the program and for the hefty executive salaries? What, truly, are the fiscal realities of the balance sheet? How many million dollars of our money is the Breeders' Cup sitting on that could be used to maintain all or most of the supplemental program? How much were these non-stake holding executives' salaries cut back in the midst of what Greg Avioli called a ‘challenging environment?' What percentage of executive positions or lavish perks were eliminated, and how much overhead was cut?
Furthermore, why has this announcement been made shortly after we nominated our 2008 foals, rather than before? Have we simply been making donations? It seems to me that by paying our fees each year based on established expectations, we have an implicit but clearly understood agreement or contract that has now been violated? Whether this astonishing announcement represents mismanagement, fraud, or some other form of malfeasance, I for one want my 2005-2008 fees returned.
This final absurdity is a tipping point for me. Until the present Breeders' Cup management is gone, the Breeders' Cup Board is restructured in a competent way, the supplemental program is reinstated, our money is properly respected and wisely allocated, and the Breeders' Cup is redesigned to serve breeders, I will no longer nominate my 160+ annual foals to the Breeders' Cup program.
Copyright © 2008, The Paulick Report
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