On the surface, it seems that Mike Repole should be a happy man.
On Tuesday, champion Uncle Mo turned in his fourth consecutive encouraging work at Saratoga and seems on his way to making a comeback in the Aug. 27 King's Bishop.
Repole is also only a couple weeks removed from winning the Jim Dandy with Stay Thirsty, who could be the favorite for the Travers and is all of a sudden in the hunt for championship honors.
Oh by the way, Repole has the top-ranked 2-year-old in the country for the second straight year with Sanford winner Overdriven, and he is tied atop the Saratoga owners' standings.
But if you think Repole is humming a cheery tune, think again. Just hours before Day 2 of the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select yearling auction, the outspoken owner wanted to make sure he got a couple of things off his chest. Specifically, about the soon-to-be announced location of the 2012 Breeders' Cup and the hotbed subject of Lasix, which won't be permitted on race day in the 2012 Breeders' Cup and in 2013 it won't be allowed in any horses at the World Championships.
On Wednesday, the Breeders' Cup is expected to announce that the 2012 World Championships will be held at Santa Anita for the third time in five years. Repole, a New Yorker through and through, is not happy about the expected decision. He made that clear on Tuesday afternoon, going as far as saying that a boycott is a possibility.
You won't want to miss this:
"I think it's a huge mistake that the Breeders' Cup has chosen California over New York to host the 2012 World Championships. Let me be clear: I love California. My wife loves L.A. I love San Francisco. This is not an East Coast vs. West Coast thing. It has nothing to do with New York vs. California. I watch California racing regularly and I think their racing is great. In fact, I've talked to a couple trainers about running a string of horses out there in the future. If New York had the Breeders' Cup three of the last five years I would also say it isn't fair.
"The Breeders' Cup should be in New York, Kentucky, and California on a rotating basis. If they want to throw in a fourth venue that is fine too. But this is a travesty to the sport. There are a lot of top trainers, jockeys, and owners on the East Coast, and for the Breeders' Cup to not be there since 2005 is very unfair. I don't think this is the vision they had when the Breeders' Cup started more than 25 years ago. If anything, the Breeders' Cup is setting itself up for a possible boycott. Other East Coast trainers and owners have stated the same thing to me. The horsemen on the East Coast are at a huge disadvantage having to travel six hours for the third time in five years.
"And, how does the Breeders' Cup pick a venue that doesn't even have its track surface figured out right now? How can that happen?
"If I have top horses like Mo, Thirsty, and Overdriven running next year, I am going to have to rethink my decision to go over there. It's just not fair. They don't hold the Super Bowl at the same venue three out of five years. It's a joke. I wouldn't be surprised if some of the top East Coast trainers and owners didn't go out there next year.
"Actually, if NYRA decided to run some big races on the same weekend as the Breeders' Cup, I would encourage other horsmen to stay close to home."
If you think those comments are strong from Repole, his opinions on the potential ban of Lasix are even stronger.
"From the experts I've talked to, vets and trainers, and from what I have read, Lasix is probably the one drug that we need to have on race day. I'm all for banning every other race-day medication, except for Lasix. I think racing has enough image and marketing issues right now and if they ban Lasix it will only make things worse.
"I see where the Breeders' Cup already made the decision to ban Lasix for 2-year-olds next year and for all horses in 2013. To do that on a huge weekend when millions are watching on a national stage, it could not be a bigger mistake. Here is a weekend when our sport is being showcased to the whole country and all of a sudden they want to ban Lasix? It just doesn't make sense and was not thought out well enough.
"What if a 2-year-old has made the first three or four starts of his career with Lasix and all of a sudden he is being asked to run without it in the Breeders' Cup. It's not fair to the horse, the owners, or the gamblers. Worst case scenario, what if a horse is 40 lengths behind bleeding from both nostrils? Is this the stage they want to experiment on? On racing's biggest weekend? I don't think they thought about the consequences. I think the racing industry should be more concerned about the horse, the fan, and the sport. It seems like everyone is more concerned with their own vested interests.
"As an owner who regularly spends up to $4 million on horses per year, what am I supposed to do if one of these horses bleeds after his first start and I get a call from Todd (Pletcher) telling me ‘Sorry Mike, he bled and we have to send him to the farm for four months or possibly retire him'? Is that fair to the owners who spend all these millions at sales? What happens to our investment? From what I've been told, almost every horse will bleed at some point in their life. Lasix is a necessary drug that helps horses.
"I really hope the Breeders' Cup reconsiders its decision on this. If not, I may join forces with NYRA and start my own Empire State Games. I'll fund it for NYRA and we'll compete against the Breeders' Cup."
Whether or not you agree with him, it is refreshing to have an outspoken owner like Repole give his opinions on these important subjects. At the very least, it will spark lively debate.
Anything else you want to get off your chest, Mike?