One Site Only - By Bill Casner

(Originally published in the May 15, 2010 issue of The Blood-Horse magazine. Feel free to share your own thoughts and opinions at the bottom of the column.)   

Breeders’ Cup is at a crossroads. Will it continue rotating host sites annually or take the bold step of designating Santa Anita as the permanent venue for the near future? Controversy surrounds this approach.

In making a case for each of the models, I find only one for the current format. It is a known, and Breeders’ Cup will incur little criticism if nothing changes. It is the safe path and one that would arouse little political animosity.

In contrast, there are a stack of reasons to make Santa Anita the permanent host site.  

The weather is an obvious one, and Southern California has some of the best. The odds of having a bright sunny day in November are certainly magnified on the West Coast.

Santa Anita has a facility and backdrop that is recognized as one of the most appealing in the world. The morning experience of watching horses train at Clocker’s Corner is second to none, and the excellent grandstand seating allows great fan contact with the afternoon races.  

The Los Angeles area offers many world-class alternatives to families who want to experience other entertainment and cultural options. It has well-located hotels and excellent restaurants with easy access to multiple airports.

L.A. is the heart of the entertainment industry. Bringing the stars back to the races will be a huge asset in stimulating fan interest and attendance.
Sponsorship opportunities are increased with a permanent site. A good example of this is the U.S. Open Tennis Championship, which grew sponsorships from $14 million to $60 million after establishing a permanent site. Sponsors want predictability, which is diminished by rotating venues.

Optimizing financial efficiencies is the cornerstone of successful companies. Changing venues annually is a daunting challenge and is counterproductive to creating leverage in negotiating the best possible deals with host sites. The carrot of an annual event that brings in significant local revenues also creates leverage in negotiating favorable tax concessions with the city and state.

Holding an event at the same site over a period of years creates great opportunities to continually driving costs down. Vendors are incentivized to give the best pricing. Staging logistics are streamlined in allowing equipment, signage, products, etc. to be stored from year to year. When an event is repeated at the same site, the quality of the production goes up. Everything becomes more predictable, and the end product is elevated.

The international racing community has demonstrated over the last two Breeders’ Cup events that it will bring its best horses to Santa Anita. This is essential to the survival and growth of the event and our worldwide betting pools. We are a global industry, and we have to do everything we can to maintain Breeders’ Cup as the true World Championships. Dubai has made a bold challenge for this title with the establishment of the spectacular Meydan Racecourse. The Dubai Racing Club will continue to expand its product and increase purses. The path Breeders’ Cup chooses will determine whether this challenge is successfully met.  

In 2007, Breeders’ Cup expanded the format with an extra day and six additional races. The increased revenues have helped to decrease the deficit created by a dramatic decline in foal nominations but still fall short. It was controversial when implemented, but it has proved to be a critical decision to the bottom line. The 2009 Breeders’ Cup was one of the few successes in a year that was devastating to our industry, and the extra day along with the venue repeat certainly contributed to that success.

But the most compelling reason for making Santa Anita the permanent venue is the sheer survival of Breeders’ Cup as a viable and profitable company for the advancement of our industry. If Breeders’ Cup is unable to sustain itself and ultimately grow, it will certainly insure the continued decline of Thoroughbred racing in North America. Companies blind to the evolving landscape of their markets and paralyzed by fear of change are destined for decline and failure. The ability to grow purses or even maintain the current level will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, with the current model and industry economics.

The time is right to make Santa Anita the permanent venue. It is the correct business decision for the Breeder’s Cup event and the future of our industry.

Bill Casner co-owns WinStar Farm and is a board member of Breeders' Cup Ltd. WinStar is the owner/breeder of 2010 Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver.


Leave a Comment:

Gary at Rough Creek


Install a safe, well maintained dirt track at Santa Anita and your argument holds more water and makes more sense.  A permanent venue with a surface on which many horses don't perform well is not a recipe for growth and success.  

11 May 2010 2:42 PM
Matthew W

Santa Anita would largely help even the balance of power, as it were, between East and West, as it would benefit locally based horses--but only if they decide to go back to traditional dirt--I'm aware of the pull of synthetics, in so far as Euro runners are concerned---it's just that synthetics also play against Eastern based horses--and Eastern based horses have been traditionaly the strongest horses on the planet---and I'm a West Coast Guy! To sum up: Make Santa Anita home to the Breeders Cup...make Travor Denham voice of the Breeders Cup....and honor American dirt racing--don't tell me our championships should be decided on anything else! And good luck in the Preakness, I am betting on you and yours....

11 May 2010 2:54 PM

I disagree whole-heartedly that racing needs a "permanent" home for the Breeders' Cup. If anything will stifle fan interest, it is putting the interest in obtaining "stars" above the every day racing fan, who may not be able to afford a trip to the West Coast, but could attend BC every few years when it is in their area of the U.S.

I am a bit more than off-put by Mr. Casner's suggestion, because I do respect him as a horseman, but he's far out of touch with the "common people."

Hollywood celebrities do not support the every day racing; regular fans do....the people who bet on claimers, as well as stakes horses.  As it is, even the Kentucky Derby doesn't draw many, if any, real stars of any worth. Most are reality show celebrity wanna-be's and is this what we think will draw in more racing fans??

I attended this last Breeders' Cup @ Santa Anita. While the weather may have been warmer, the pollution around the venue and the entire area gave me a steady headache. Clocker's Corner in the morning was nice, but the smog in the afternoons was not. Nor was the odor coming off the synthetic track, which resembled the "aroma" of an automobile oil change garage.

Prices for hotels in the immediate area were over $200 a night, more than what one would pay in Lousiville for an average hotel. Travel was lengthy from an affordable hotel.

And, no real hard evidence exists that says synthetic surfaces truly are safer. What about soft tissue injuries? No one wants to release the hard data.

And finally, a single location will result in a "been there, done that" for many casual fans. By not traveling around, Breeders' Cup limits many racing fans' access to the experience and targets only the upper class, many of whom don't bring any "zest" to the sport.  

11 May 2010 3:33 PM

If Breeders Cup picks a synthetic track liek Sanita Anita they will loose a lot of big name dirt horses because people know that not all good dirt horses can handle the synthetic surface and it acts more like turf than dirt. I think that this will hurt the breeders cup more than help it. You are just making it a championship for turf and Euros horses, not for dirt horses.

11 May 2010 3:44 PM

I attended the 2009 Breeders Cup at Santa Anita as an owner and fan and it was bar none the best horse racing event I've ever attended.  The racing was extremely competitive, the parties and events leading up to the weekend were top notch, and I was blown away by Santa Anita's ability to cater to the 60,000 or so fans that were on hand.  The facility seems custom built for a world championship caliber event.  The surface issue is a legitimate concern and one that the track will have to address on their own.  But as for where I wish to watch my next Breeders Cup event, I'll take the "horse racing paradise" feel of Santa Anita in November over a cold, rainy day at Churchill or Monmouth anyday.

11 May 2010 3:45 PM

one word.... DIRT!  Without the transformation to dirt, the thought that the Breeders Cup every year at Santa Anita is truley a Chmpionship is proposterous.  Sun, Fun and Plastic?  Which one doesn't belong and why?

11 May 2010 4:01 PM
Walter in Santa Fe

Santa Anita provides too much of a home-track advantage for West Coast horses. And returning the track to a more traditional dirt surface is a must before even considering Santa Anita. Personally, I favor rotating the Cup but on a smaller scale--maybe three tracks; four at the most. These would include Santa Anita, Churchill, Belmont and Gulfstream. If the powers that be opt for a permanent site, my choice would overwhelmingly be Churchill Downs. It has proven time after time that it can successfully handle our industry's premier event, it's cavernous grandstand if fan-friendly and accommodating and it is more centrally located than the other three choices I mentioned. Plus, Kentucky is arguably the Mecca of our horse-racing industry.

11 May 2010 4:12 PM

    Mr. Casner was right on many points.  The most important being the bottom line of money.  Sponsors do thrive on stability.  However, stability could be achieved by choosing three maybe four permanent sites, and rotating them in a permanent order.  

    And I challenge Mr. Casner to be at a Breeder's Cup site EVERY morning for AT LEAST three weeks prior to the event. What a shame it would be to deprive people/fans of the ability to see world class horses on a daily basis.  There is TRULY nothing more MAGNIFICENT.  Moving the event from place to place gets it in front of more people LIVE.  Not many fans have the money to travel specifically across the country to the event but DO go to it when it is close by.  I am strongly for rotation (Obviously) HOWEVER I am just as strongly for a PERMANENT rotation to PERMANENT sites for all the same reasons Mr.Casner brought for one location.  Stability is DEFINITELY needed to keep Breeder's Cup in business at the current level but I am for a rotation of Santa Anita, Churchill Downs, Belmont, and possibly Gulfstream.    

11 May 2010 4:30 PM

I attended the Breeders Cup at Santa Anita in 2008 and 2009. I had so much fun the first year I returned the next year and brought 5 more fans with me and we all upgraded to the turf club with trackside seats. The facility is phenomenal. I think alot of support will depend on what Santa Anita does with their track. Since they will replace it they have an opportunity to get the best surface in place. Whether that will be dirt of a better synthetic track remains to be seen. If it stays in Santa Anita I will be there every year!  If synthetic means more European horses will come then I'm all for it - just put in one that drains properly. Also remember that vet checks on the horses were done, I beleive, every day for a week up to the races - not just the day before which helped prevent break downs.  I hope that is done this year at Churchill as well.

11 May 2010 5:09 PM
Matthew W

The West has always been slighted--then along comes the Breeders Cup--what an idea! It helps to make West coast racing relevant when a West coast track hosts the Breeders Cup--but then they make a hard left, or was it a hard right (??!!) ...and just like that, they  pull the lever and there goes their long-awaited cred....there goes the you think Zenyatta deserved that? I mean, really, there's history to this sport, and that horse, unless she dominates in this year's Classic, will be left with an asterisk along side her other words, when you go to wholesale change/overnight, does anyone think of what that does to racing history?...Synthetics will be blocked out in history...sadly to say, it's probably best that way....

11 May 2010 5:12 PM

Although good arguments for 1 track,I think a 3 track permanent rotation a better alternative.This would address most of your concerns,while still allowing those who live in the midwest and east to attend this great event at least once every 3 years.i am attending the breeders cup this year at Churchill and hope to attend more in the future.Santa Anita,Churchill,and either Belmont or Gulfstream would make a great trio to host this event and keep it accessible to the whole country.

11 May 2010 5:18 PM
Karen in Indiana

I agree with every one of your arguments for Santa Anita being the home of the Breeders Cup. Churchill Downs has the Kentucky Derby, New York has the boutique meet of Saratoga, Florida has the unique experience (now) of Gulfstream. The weather both years at Santa Anita was perfect and the setting is beautiful. As for the synthetic surface, I can say it was relieving to be able to watch two straight years of some heavy duty horse racing and not see one catastrophic breakdown. As far as I can recall, there was only one horse vanned off and he survived. And if this is truly going to be a world class event, then we need to stop being so provincial about 'dirt surfaces'.

The main argument against being based in one site is that the vision of Breeders Cup was to make the event easier for more people to attend, to give it more of a widespread appeal and to lessen favoritism.

11 May 2010 5:20 PM

For 10 years now i've thought that Santa Anita "Should" be the permanent host site for the Breeders Cup and for all of the reasons listed above.

It is one of the premiere "Showplaces" for this Industry.

And....If the rumors i've heard are correct, Santa Anita is planning on going back to a dirt surface anyways as part of the deal to become the permanent site ???

However, IMO....I believe that this move "Should" only be done for a 7 year Trial period.

After that, it could either be renewed for another 7 years (If things went well during that time) OR "Possibly" go back to a Rotating Venue like it has been to also "Possibly" Renew or Rejuvenate the Fan base.

Kind of like when an Car maker discontinues a model and then brings it back 10 years later like Chevy did with the "All New Chevy Camaro".

I think it did create a lot of Renewed interest in the Camaro and was a pretty good marketing ploy....IMO.

11 May 2010 5:29 PM

I don't mind a permanent site, bit that site should be Churchill Downs.  It has had the best attendance numbers.  Track can handle all sorts of distances and large fields.  It is a good midway point between East and West.

The biggest reason is simply that it is the fairest dirt and turf surface around.  Whether synthetics are good or bad is beside the point, the one indubitable truth is that racing on a synthetic surface is unfair to dirt horses.  It has an overwhelming affect on the races that over benefits horses that run on it.

11 May 2010 5:32 PM

It just seems to me in a time when racing needs to gain more fan support that always having the Breeder's Cup at the same place on one side of the country will not help accomplish that goal.  I live on the east coast in a state that doesn't have racing and have to travel a little anyhow.  Getting to California for the Breeder's Cup would be a little hard on any regular basis.  I'm really excited this year that I can go to Louisville!  I think rotating it between the east coast and the west coast with a third track used every 3 or 4 years would be a great idea.

11 May 2010 6:04 PM

I'll vouch for the weather. There was never a bad day whenever the Breeders' Cup came to Santa Anita Park. The main track surface is always an issue but I don't mind which way the track ultimately decides to go - although I don't like excluding Europeans from all the big purses. What's the fun if the Europeans dominate turf and Americans rule the dirt all the time? That's not the competition I look for when I go.

11 May 2010 6:16 PM
Pete M

I agree 100% will Mr. Casner.  The Venue, The Weather, and The Surface at Santa Anita make it perfect for the Breeders Cup.  There is nothing worse for the sport to be on a muddy sealed track in frigid temperatures in November.  I as a gambler lose all interest in playing the card under those conditions, as a fan I lose even more interest. Seems clear to me that it would be a boom to be in So. Cal, I have been to 6 Breeders Cups, the last two at Santa Anita were the best.  From what you read the Breeders Cup is almost able to make the right decision, with help from respected people like Mr. Casner, hopefully they can do the best thing for the event, and for racing.

11 May 2010 6:44 PM

I only hope Breeders' Cup realizes that real dirt and turf make the synthetic will ever make me believe a horse is better than another unless they race on real dirt....change the track and go ahead and make it a yearly event....

11 May 2010 6:46 PM
Pam S.

As a Westerner, and someone who is practically allergic to cold, I would be thrilled if the BC would be held at beautiful Santa Anita every year.  But I can understand the consternation of fans in other parts of the country.  I think a great compromise would be for SA to re-install a dirt track, maybe as a cooperative effort between Magna and the BC.  I know it would be expensive.  I think you would maybe lose a few Euros but gain a few Eastern horses.

Or, build a new track in Las Vegas with all three surfaces!! Great weather also and PLENTY of hotel rooms and other attractions.  (Yes, I admit, just a flight of fancy....)

11 May 2010 6:48 PM

Bill, congratulations on the Derby.

Really though, do you think the 'beautiful people' and the people with the attention span of a 5 year old will return to the track year after year? Especially if it isn't the 'in thing' or the place to be seen?

Remember they had tickets available right up to the last minute. A synthetic track? Will soon become the Cal/Euro Cup.

People who travel there as a vacation will soon get tired of going to the same venue year after year. Then you'll just have the diehards and the horse people who don't mind running on a synthetic surface.

You think noms are down now? Just wait. Plus, maybe those noms are down because people didn't want to go to a track that had been mandated  by the state to become a synthetic track, ever think of that?

Nathan, horses don't like hot days. It's not always rainy at Churchill and they pack em in better than anyone. So keep it at CD then. We know they draw better than anyone for the Derby and Oaks and BC as well.

11 May 2010 6:57 PM
Walter Bindner

As much as I would like to see Churchill Downs be the permanent site. I agree with your reasoning. The weather, the city and it's resources along with the beauty of Santa Anita makes it the better choice

11 May 2010 6:59 PM

I disagree. I like seeing the different tracks--Texas several years ago. I prefer a dirt track also. And people cannot always travel to the opposite coast for a Breeders Cup. If I am in a different part of the country, I like to go sight seeing/trying new restaurants,etc.. With showdogs there National Specialities are held in different states yearly. It should be the same with the Breeder's Cup.

11 May 2010 6:59 PM


First, let me congratulate you and the whole WinStar team for Super Saver's victory in the Kentucky Derby. Very well done!!!

You make a strong case for a permanent home for the Breeders Cup and for that home to be Santa Anita. A lot of people will disagree with you, mainly because of the Pro-Ride track and they will have valid arguments also. My inclination is to go more with your side of the discussion than with theirs, for all the legitimate reasons you've enumerated. I sincerely hope that the Breeders Cup organization elects to see things your way. Oddly, some people will continue to argue against such a move, even if it means the demise of the Breeders Cup as a viable entity.


If one follows your argument of "been there, done that" then, according to the same logic, the Derby should move location from one year to the next to ensure good attendance. After all, once you've been to Louisville to attend the Derby, there's no point in going there again, right?

The same applies to your argument that people from other parts of the country should be able to attend the event without incurring the extra cost of traveling to see it. Somehow, people all over have managed to enjoy the Derby while watching it on television. (The cost of attending the Derby is not peanuts either.) Why would the same thing not apply for the Breeders Cup?  

11 May 2010 7:21 PM
Kash Minbar

Finall a voice of reason.  Thank you, Mr. Casner!  

A decision to make Santa Anita the permanent home of the Breeders' Cup is absolutely the right call for a number of reasons, which include:

1)  The weather - All you have to do is look at Monmouth Park 3yrs ago or even the Kentucky Derby this year.  Combine that with November temperature.  No thanks!

2)  The venue - While Churchill Downs and Belmont Park are historic (and fantastic) venues, I'm sorry, they don't hold a CANDLE to Santa Anita.  It's by far tailor made for the event from every standpoint (hospitality, television and fans).  

3.  The Market - Los Angeles has proven the ideal market to grow the "event" of the Breeders' Cup.  ALL marketing experts agree that NOTHING has increased the exposure of the Breeders' Cup than the last two years at Santa Anita.

Last, the proof is in the pudding folks.  When the decision was made to have the BC at Santa Anita for two consecutive years, everybody went crazy.  Well, what happened?  The event grew and turned out to be some of the best years in the event's history.  Last year, in the face of an economy at historic lows, the event (thanks in part to Zenyatta) was UNBELIEVABLE successful.  For those that differ have short memories!

This is the right call for the Breeders' Cup and the right call for the sport of horse racing.

11 May 2010 7:45 PM

Nothing compares to the atmosphere of Santa Anita.  It is the perfect venue to host the BC and they did a magnificent job in 2008 and 2009.  Kentucky has the Derby and the east coast has the other two legs of the Triple Crown.  In combination they host three of the four marquee weekends in North American racing.  Putting the fourth in Southern California represents geographic diversity for the sport.

11 May 2010 8:03 PM
Ed Marks

Although the weather is nice is CA I think the show would get stale if repeated year after year at SA. There is a group of us that travel every year from the east coast to the BC site. We are all horseracing fans and enjoy the yearly meeting. Last year, because of the repeat at SA, most didn't go. It is a long (and more expensive) trip from the east coast and it lacks the excitement if repetitive. We have been to several (beginning with Aqueduct many years ago) and thought the show at Churchill and Arlington were great. Of course Monmouth was horrible, but at least it was a chance to see the track and experience the area and we still had a ball.

I am  not in favor of a permanent site for the BC (and still wonder if Zenyatta would have succeeded elsewhere). Hopefully, we'll find out this year. And hopefully, its not the last time we do it at Churchill.

P.S. What ever happened to DelMar and all the talk about upgrading that site for a BC event? It might be a long trip but at least it is someplace different.

11 May 2010 8:35 PM

Zookeeper because Kentucky, despite all it's shortcomings is the center of the TB universe.

Ask yourself why the Derby pulls in more people than attendance at the BC combined both days. It's historical and the most widely recognized race in the World. Not just in North America. Kentucky is horse country and full of horse lovers.

I saw mostly people who wanted to be at an event or a happening at Santa Anita. They lucked out this year but between wildfires and any rain at all like they had in 09 or 08 after the Breeders Cup and that would be a disaster. Just try to regain the horsemen back who don't want any part of the synthetics in California.

How many really good horses' connections refused to go in 09?

Some went in 08 but didn't want any part of it in 09. Plus they were some of the biggest names in the game that were staying away.

The BC doesn't have the historical signifigance of a Derby. They, Pimlico and Belmont just cannot draw the same type of crowds year after year. 08 BC tickets were at a premium, 09 no lottery and still available late in the game.

Stars? B listers that frankly, when they come to the Derby people could care less.

The biggest difference between the Derby and the BC is the fact that the average fan, semi fan or not even a fan has the Derby on their bucket list. Ask the guy on the street if he knows about the Derby then ask if he knows about the BCup. Plus Churchill Downs just has that aura attached to it and it has the record for the highest attendance of a BC.

I didn't enjoy fighting the traffic in California, the smog and to me that paddock setup seemed unsafe.

For those of you speaking about the East Coast and midwest getting the big races?

Cal has the Pacific Classic, the Hollywood Gold Cup and the Santa Anita Derby. We can't help it that they've mucked it up with pro-ride etc. Days gone by owners and trainers would kill to get into those races. Put the BC in that situation and I think you may as well kiss it goodbye.

Saratoga has built their stakes weekends into something special, even Oaklawn Park fills up nearly every big race day. But I believe that I heard last year Zenyatta didn't even draw a full house each time she ran.

You guys are telling me the Arkansas Derby that was finally granted a G1 status, is any bigger than what the Santa Anita Derby used to be?

At least rotating it would give a lot of people from varying locales to attend and maybe keep it alive.

We ran horses in Cal for decades, then when the Work comp issues,  the infighting which really is worse there, the outfits starting to pull out and the fields getting smaller and smaller plus the new surfaces on the horizon. Add to that the cost of living in a state that is now struggling financially. We hightailed it out of there.

Take a look at how many of those races didn't overfill or how many horses supplemented into it......It will only get worse.

11 May 2010 8:41 PM
Aunt Bea

Uh, OK, horses (and people) shouldn't suffer the indignity of being chilly or getting wet. You people are out of your minds!

11 May 2010 8:46 PM

The synthetic track is the number ONE reason to keep BC at Santa Anita. Our biggest televised race days should be held at the safest possible track. We were all relieved not to witness any tragedies the past two years. Our sport has suffered from greatly from televised deaths. Meydan installed synthetic and this year's Carnival was a huge success, just as our past two BC's have been.

11 May 2010 8:48 PM
Duncan Chambers

I wish the BC to disappear altogether. I liked when the Jockey Club Gold Cup, Champagne Stakes, Norfolk Stakes etc. weren't prep races. The BC is bloated and does not serve the breeders well. California all the time? Not for me I'm going on a weekend getaway with the $500 foal nomination I won't be sending them.

11 May 2010 8:49 PM

Mr. Casner,

Yes, there is nice weather in LA, but nearly all of your reasons for Santa Anita revolve around money.

Racing has never been particularly successful in gaining stars or media attention in LA, or sponsorships anywhere (including the Derby) so I'm not sure why this would be successful.  

Instead, the BC should focus on making the event great.  Bringing international horses in is great, but not if it means that our dirt horses won't enter.  

NEWS FLASH:  The handle at Churchill Downs this year will dwarf the handle either of the past two years at Santa Anita.  That will more than overcome expenses relating to 'more permanent staging' and other items.    

11 May 2010 9:02 PM
Tom D

Do it and I will stop paying the nomination fees for my East coast based horses.  That is a promise.

11 May 2010 9:06 PM

Gary at Rough Creek:


install a state-of-the-art, safe, real dirt track at Santa Anita, and you'll have a winner.

11 May 2010 9:33 PM

In my opinion, the Breeders' Cup World Championships should not have Oak Tree At Santa Anita as a permanent site because first of all, this is an International event, and it's the "Olympic" version of horse racing, that is the reason why the Breeders' Cup hosted in different racetracks since 1984. Second, to host a site, it should be a racetrack that has a fall meet, and has two type of surfaces dirt and turf or snythtic surfaces such as polytrack, or Pro-Ride and turf. Third, the Breeders' Cup Announcer Trevor Denman is famous for calling races at Santa Anita, and if Oak Tree At Santa Anita is he permanent site, he will call the Breeders' Cup races at his home base, and that is not good for the viewers.

11 May 2010 9:48 PM

One other thing that I think would be cool to see for the Pageantry of the Breeders Cup or even the Derby itself, is to have (Voluntary) Celebrities as Pony Boys/Girls.

Someone like Bo Derek since she is a well known Horse Lover and Thoroughbred Supporter.   Or others with similar traits and Horsemanship experiences.

Just a thought since Celebrity involvement seems to work in other areas !!!

11 May 2010 9:52 PM
John T

 The Breeders Cup is the world championships of thoroughbred racing.It is no different than the

super bowl,the world cup of soccer,

the Olympic games etc.And just like

you would never see one host for those other championships there should not be one for the Breeders Cup either.

11 May 2010 9:53 PM

The fact that Mr. Casner does not even mention the single most important consideration in play, the fact that Santa Anita currently has a synthetic surface, is a slap to the face of anyone reading this letter. How dumb does he think that people are?

11 May 2010 9:58 PM

If a permanent host site is selected, it should be Churchill Downs....right in the middle of the country on a mostly neutral track.  

Like many other, however, I prefer a 3-track rotation of Churchill, Belmont and Santa Anita. (It's my understanding 10 furlong dirt races can't be staged at the new Gulfstream. Brilliant move, there!)  

I attend the BC when its in New York. I jump on the train at Penn Station and in 30 minutes, I'm at the track. Traveling to and fro in SoCal is a bit more problematic...particularly for those of us not riding in the stretch limos.

East coast and midwestern horsemen deserve to have a "turn" at home field advantage in the richest races in our country...particularly since they are paying a huge portion of the nomination fees.  I will go out on a limb and predict the marginalization of the BC as a TRUE championship event, if it is moved to Santa Anita permanently.  Such a move would make the event a regional event, not a day for crowning National Championships.

Last but not least...DIRT!!!!!

11 May 2010 10:03 PM

I simply refused to bet on the races at Santa Anita.  I don't understand how an industry can have its championship day run on plastic.  So long as Santa Anita has a plastic track, the Breeders Cup should never return.  If your concerned about the weather, have the 'Cup at a track in Florida.  In fact, if you want to create a really interesting location, work out a way to have your championship every year at Hialeah.

11 May 2010 10:31 PM
mike b.

Everyone has a right to his opinion. But because he won the Derby doesn;t make his influence special. No permanent site for the BC. Keep it like it is, rotating to Bel, CD, SA, HP, MTH, AP, all these sites did well and stop messing with a good thing

11 May 2010 10:34 PM

1- If the suggestion were to make Belmont the permanent host site, we would be hearing HOWLS of "East Coast bias" but it is perfectly acceptable to ensure a permanent home field advantage for the West Coast? No I'm not just talking about track surface either- I'm talking about the SHIPPING over the Rockies.

2- By Mr. Casner's reasoning, the Super Bowl, the World Series, the NBA Finals, the NCAA Final Four, the MLB All-Star game etc. must all suffer in terms of revenue, logistics, pricing etc. because NONE of these annual events has a SINGLE permanent host site. Two of them (World Series, NBA) don't even have their sites known until at most a week before they begin!

If you wish to continue to divide this horse racing country, then by all means select a single permanent host on one coast or the other. That may save the Breeders Cup, but it will destroy the sport in general.

11 May 2010 10:34 PM

As an insider to the industry, I feel I must mention the one thing that is not being mentioned here.

The main reason for all the talk about a permanent BC base at Santa Anita is the state of racing in California.

This move does have many motives, but motive number one is the attempt to save racing in the state.  Hollywood Park will close and be raised when (well, if) the economy turns around, as will Golden Gate Fields.  Del Mar is struggling to find someone to operate its' lease.  Fairplex is sketchy from year to year.

The way things are going, (death spiral), all that will be left is northern fair tracks and a declining base at Santa Anita.

In order for "The Great Race Place" to continue on, it needs a reason to live.  

This is the Gorilla in the room no one seems to want to talk about.

Great idea or not, it is about the survival of Santa Anita and California racing in general.

A 'hallmark' event would insure Santa Anita's survival.

11 May 2010 10:55 PM

I'm all for Santa Anita being the permanent host but only if they go back to dirt. They have too many issues with their artificial surface and I think we need to stick with traditional dirt & turf only tracks for the Breeders' Cup. Turf horses have too much advantage on Pro-ride/Tapeta/Poly so it makes it patently unfair for the traditional dirt horses. I also agree that having it at one track will save money and make it easier for everyone to plan.

11 May 2010 11:47 PM
C C Rogers

The BC should definitely be held @ a site that is not likely to be affected by rain. The future of racing is synthetic tracks, like them or not. If the dirt lovers don't want to come, that will make more room for the Europeans. The BC is a world class event anyway. The only other logical track would be Del Mar if they widen their turf course.

11 May 2010 11:49 PM


“ Kentucky has the Derby and the east coast has the other two legs of the Triple Crown.  In combination they host three of the four marquee weekends in North American racing.  Putting the fourth in Southern California represents geographic diversity for the sport.”

Excellent point. California has been the red-headed stepchild of racing ever since the missionaries tried to convert the Native Americans. Part of racing’s problem is the reluctance to break with tradition. Obviously, the people who are promoting racing are doing a lousy job of it. I saw better promotion post-Breeder’s Cup on Facebook. People outside racing simply don’t know what the Breeder’s Cup IS. If they know about any races, it’s the Derby. Giving the Breeder’s Cup an identity would give racing a shot to actually promote the thing.

A lot of people in racing seem afraid to try new things. At one point, the Breeder’s Cup was a risky proposition and now it’s an important part of the schedule. I wouldn’t have a problem with Santa Anita moving back to dirt but I think this synthetic hysteria is a little much. If Santa Anita DOES decide to stick with the synthetic then they need to fix the drainage issue for sure.

I’ve been to all the California Breeder’s Cups and I’ve also been to Belmont and Churchill Downs. While it was fantastic to see those historic tracks, I didn’t think the BCs held a candle to Santa Anita’s. As far as attendance goes, that also falls on racing. I think they need to take what Zenyatta has done, particularly for the racing culture on the West Coast, and find a way to grow it. And given the crush of people on Santa Anita Derby Day, it’s possible to get people to the track when she’s not running!

Ed Marks:

“P.S. What ever happened to DelMar and all the talk about upgrading that site for a BC event? It might be a long trip but at least it is someplace different.”

Absolutely NOT. Not only is Del Mar a slog, but if people are complaining about hotels in SoCal, they’re going to be wicked disappointed with Del Mar. It’s basically in the middle of nowhere and a bit iffy at that time of year, too. And don’t say people can stay in San Diego. If there’s a more infuriating city, I don’t know where it is…


“Instead, the BC should focus on making the event great.  Bringing international horses in is great, but not if it means that our dirt horses won't enter.”

Since racing hasn’t done a bang-up job turning the horses into media stars, I’m not sure what you’re saying here. Also, dirt horses WILL come. Jess Jackson can’t buy them ALL.


“Third, the Breeders' Cup Announcer Trevor Denman is famous for calling races at Santa Anita, and if Oak Tree At Santa Anita is he permanent site, he will call the Breeders' Cup races at his home base, and that is not good for the viewers.”

Huh? Why?


“If a permanent host site is selected, it should be Churchill Downs....right in the middle of the country on a mostly neutral track.  “

How do you figure Churchill as a neutral track, when anytime the Derby rolls around all anyone talks about is track bias?


“If the suggestion were to make Belmont the permanent host site, we would be hearing HOWLS of "East Coast bias" but it is perfectly acceptable to ensure a permanent home field advantage for the West Coast? No I'm not just talking about track surface either- I'm talking about the SHIPPING over the Rockies.”

Um… the West Coast horses have to ship when the BC’s on the East Coast…


“Prices for hotels in the immediate area were over $200 a night, more than what one would pay in Lousiville for an average hotel. Travel was lengthy from an affordable hotel.”

Is twenty minutes “lengthy?” Sorry you didn’t have a good experience but it doesn’t sound like you were all that prepared.

12 May 2010 1:07 AM

Why not run it at Hialeah? Sunny, mild Florida in autumn sounds pretty terrific for man and horse, and the venue certainly has as much historical significance as Churchill, Belmont, and Santa Anita.

12 May 2010 1:28 AM

You do realize that Santa Anita has a synthetic surface, right? I think that is a pretty big negative for bringing the Breeders Cup back to Santa Anita. You may as well tell the owners and trainers of dirt horses to stay home, and this is based off the track record of such horses the past two years of the Breeders Cup. Install a real, dirt track, and then this idea sounds better, but until then, this is a terrible idea and would be a big driving force in dividing the horse racing industry.

12 May 2010 3:05 AM

I seem to recall that when Woodbine Racetrack hosted the BC that there was praise all around about the quality of the horses, facilities and friendliness of the Canadians. Recently I read about a survey that chose Woodbine as the most sucessful venue. This was in 1996. Arlington Park was also a favourite. Why have these two tracks been ignored since then? It has been 15 years since BC went to Canada. Now some want to shun the east to make the west happy? How can anyone say that SA needs BC continually? SA has great, historic races like the Big Cap and the Derby!

12 May 2010 3:12 AM
mike pender

As a trainer at santa anita, i feel compelled to respond.  Mr. Casner should be commended for his ability to see the overall business plan and basic survival of the Breeders Cup. Mr. Robinson (see above) also hit the nail on the head. For all the of the fans commenting on this blog who live outside of California, if you haven't already noticed: California racing is in serious decline. The foal crop is at an all time low, a paltry 85 (estimate) hips sold at our recently concluded Barretts May sale, purse structure has dropped by 30% (while the rest of the nation seemingly gets slots...Indian gaming has taken over California), and our politicians have officially abandoned their prior promises to help save racing. Maybe fans outside of California will care less when West Coast racing literally drops off into the Pacific Ocean (good riddance some may say), but systemically, horse racing will fall out of balance and everyone will suffer from it. On a side note, I race/gallop/breeze/clock horses every day on santa anita's 'plastic' (i detest that word...the track is 90% dirt with some extra material applied to lessen concussion) surface and it is undoubtedly the safest track in America. I vividly remember the days of 'dirt' racing/training at Santa Anita. They were literally hauling off a horse a day to the blue room. It was sickening. Have we forgotten those days or does the mind simply deny such atrocities? Knock on wood, I haven't seen them haul off one single horse in over two and a half months on this Santa Anita track. Ask any clocker at Santa Anita and they will attest to the track's measure of safety. Sure, there are injuries (mostly hind end) that still require time off. But catastrophic's are a rarity, thank goodness. If we go back to dirt at santa anita, the horse population will take a huge hit with the higher mortality rates and its a guarentee that the ever increasing shortage of horses will shrink even more. I read with great sadness that I Want Revenge's 3/8ths comeback work (on a dirt track) was marred by him having to avoid a broken down horse at the finish line. The last time we saw something like that at Santa Anita in the a.m. was around three to four months ago, which sadly and ironically, was one of Mr. Casner's promising two year olds. Yet, Mr. Casner supports our synthetic track and keeps horses in training out here because (i am assuming here) he believes the track is safe. I digress.The bottom line here is simple: from a horseman's perspective, this synthetic racetrack at Santa Anita is its salvation. Regardless of the Breeders Cup, synthetic must stay.          

12 May 2010 3:58 AM

With the additional races that have been added you almost have to run the Breeders Cup at Santa Anita every year. The reason is simple, races like the Turf Sprint will be run at a different distance every year if you continue to go from track to track. Santa Anita's downhill course is one of a kind. Even Monmouth had to run the Juvenile races at one mile and Gulfstream doesn't run 8.5 furlong races either. It seems to me that there wasn't a whole lot of thought put into it when they decided to add the extra races because now their really isn't any choice but to stay at Santa Anita unless you want to change the distance of half the races every year. Hopefully Frank Stronach goes with a dirt track and that will solve a lot of problems. A dirt track would also help increase field size which has been a huge problem in California. In the mid 1990's 3 year olds prepping at Santa Anita had tons of success in the Triple Crown races now the California 3 year olds are automatic throw outs because of the fake dirt.

12 May 2010 5:06 AM

Well if they want to give an advantage to the west coast based horses year after year, then the simple solution is for someone to create the East Coast Breeders Cup and continue with the alternating of sites.

12 May 2010 5:22 AM

Rick, good point. Most of the reasons listed for a permanent site revolve around money.

Second, comparing the Derby to Breeders' Cup is apples & oranges. Just because one track/state has a signature racing event does not mean it should be excluded from a Breeders' Cup location.

Third, the fans mean very little to the larger organizations in racing, so I suspect the "deal is done" regarding the permanent location. The motive being "financial," to support the whims & follies of those lofty people who want to rub elbows with celebrities and apparently, value their attendance over the core racing community.

Sadly, isn't this kind of thinking what has put racing in the state it's in? People not listening to breeders, owners, trainers, and especially, fans and handicappers? A self-appointed group tends to "determine" what's "best" for racing, over and over again.

My opinion doesn't matter, nor does most any other small time owner or fan. We're often the gum on the shoes of some of these people.

12 May 2010 6:35 AM

While Santa Anita may seem inviting (and I have no problem with synthetics since they seem to invite more global competition), Events such as the Super Bowl have not had any problem with rotation...if fact, it seems to continually attract more fans every year.  I prefer the idea of rotation.  Is there a possibility that the timing of November may not be essential?  I'm never thrilled with a Northeast November, but if it means I don't have to travel 3,000 miles to see a champion horse, I wouldn't mind it as much.

12 May 2010 7:14 AM
AngelaFrom Abilene

It is not the rest of the country's responsiblity to save racing in California.  If the BC gats a permanent home at ANY track, I like Tom D, will be spending my nomination money elsewhere!

12 May 2010 7:29 AM

And best of all it's only 3,066.33 miles from my house! I'll be able to make it every year!

Won't cost me hardly anything to get there, Santa Anita hotels are cheap, I'll be so vested in the BC I'll make sure to spend lots of money betting that day on a venue that will always be that close for me!

12 May 2010 7:36 AM

I have only one question:  If you continue the Breeders Cup only on a synthetic surface, how do you justify putting all the dirt horses at a disadvantage?  That means all the horses bred for the Triple Crown, all the horses bred for what through the years has been traditional racing in the U.S.  Do you completely revamp the breeding industry, devalue the Triple Crown, or just cut those horses out?

Even before synthetics, the difference in west and east coast surfaces was significant.  Rotating the BC ensured a level playing field; maybe a surface didn't suit a horse one year, but there was the option that the next year would.

12 May 2010 8:13 AM
Bill B

The most important reason for keeping the Breeders Cup at Santa Anita is profitabilty. Oak Tree runs it business at a minimal profit , somewhat like Keeneland and charities and the racing business profit the most. Since Oak Tree does not gouge our industry with their take , then Breeders Cup nets more money, the structure of the meet is best for Breeders Cup and to continue its existence it should go to either Oak Tree or Keeneland and obvious Oak Tree is better with the time, place and weather. If Santa Anita ever recovers from their woes , Stronach will step up to the plate with dirt. The bottom line is what is most important to keep Breeders Cup viable.

12 May 2010 8:25 AM

The Breeder's Cup was never meant to stay at only one track. It was always supposed to be a wandering show. I went to Santa Anita for the 2008 BC. It was a beautiful track, but the city was smoggy and full of traffic, and the weather was horribly hot. My family looks forward to them holding the BC at Woodbine or similar so we can get less heat. I would say that we couldn't hold the BC at Santa Anita every time because of the surface, and even if that changes, the BC should always stay moving.

12 May 2010 8:44 AM

Attendance at Santa Anita is DWARFED by attendance at Chrurchill. EVERY TIME!

Then there is the issue of weather. You can predict and prepare for a hurricane, but you can NOT for an EARTHQUAKE. Oh how quickly Californians blow off earthquakes as just another thing they have to deal with in beautiful, phoney, erhh, sunny California.

Yeah, just have the Breeders Cup in California, survive another earthquake and then the lawsuits will follow.

But more importantly, the Breeders Cup is supposed to be an INTERNATIONAL EVENT and as such, the Breeders Cup should be run in EUROPE occassionally as well.

12 May 2010 8:48 AM
The Kid

Actually, I think that Churchill should be the permanent site, given that it is always ready to host large crowds.  Using the weather as an argument does not hold water.  Churchill, Belmont, Woodbine, Gulfstream and Lone Star have all held Breeder's Cup Day with no weather issues.  When it comes right down to the brass tacks, 99% of the country races on conventional dirt, not plastic, so the BC should be at a site that reflects the majority of the racing.

12 May 2010 9:39 AM

Hmm…NY has the Belmont and Saratoga. KY has the Derby and Keneland. FL is no longer equipped for a big event. CA has Del Mar and…..the BC is a natural fit for a huge annual horse racing event in CA since there is an iconic venue that can support it.. The last two years proved that CA fans will support it and positive word of mouth has spread like wildfire (no pun intended) in these parts. If you go to the BC website (like I just did) - you’ll see articles or releases that BC was nominated for sports event of the year and an Emmy. Why? Zenyatta, ESPN and Santa Anita. 35000 at Belmont and 75000 at a rainy cold CD would have not led to such accolades. It appears the “two year experiment’ worked. In any event, racing needs CA racing to be successful and this is one big Vitamin BC shot (pun intended) that is sorely needed. Only ask is for a consistent safe track that drains properly - whatever the surface!

12 May 2010 10:07 AM
the knife

The BC is not a welfare check that should be used to save California or any racing circuit. It is supposed to belong to all breeders, not just West Coast USA and a handful of Euros. Rotating events such as the Super Bowl, World Series, Olympics, NBA Finals, etc etc THRIVE. Stop making excuses Bill. Improve the product instead of making it worse.

This fiscal crisis has been created by a number of bad decisions by the current BC executives. Clean house before they drive the event off a cliff.

Some of the new races are a waste of money. 1 3/4 miles on the main track??? Two turf races for two-year-olds???

Casner's "letter" is a weakly disguised PR effort to justify a terrible idea.

Let's see how this year's event at Churchill compares to the last two years at Santa Anita in terms of quality of fields, attendance, handle, and TV ratings.

12 May 2010 10:07 AM
Forbidden Apple

The Breeders Cup must remain a rotating event that celebrates horse racing at the end of the year. The races must go on even if it rains. Southern CA is not the only place worthy of hosting this event. By having the championships on a rotation, the sport gets promoted all over the country. Traditional dirt should become the main focus of the B.C. Classic once again. If the weather continues to be an issue, move the date back to mid October. This would allow east coast venues more consideration in hosting the championships. My dream is to one day have the B.C. here in Saratoga Springs. With NYRA mismanaging it's money and NY state politicians with no clue about the importance of horse racing in my state, this will remain a dream.

12 May 2010 10:09 AM

The failure to even once mention the surface is just poor writing.  You can pretend the surfaces don't matter, but real owners, trainers and bettors know better.

12 May 2010 10:10 AM
Paul (attended 34 of last 35 TC races and last 10 BCs)

Do I want to have to pay to fly to the West Coast every year and pay for hotels and car rentals for a week each and EVERY year? Nope.

I can drive to East Coast and Central tracks which makes once every 3 years to the West Coast a reasonable expense. Otherwise, that is money that I can save to bet at my home track or better yet since racing seems to not care about me and other fans who aren't "celebrities", I can go to college football in the Fall. Let's see if the "celbrities" can save California racing.

12 May 2010 10:18 AM

I feel that the venue in California is nice but majority of the Breeders' Cup supporters are in KY.  The dates of the Championship are very important it should not be scheduled the same weekend as the openening of Keeneland November sale. Keeneland did push the opening of the sale back one day but it is extremely difficult for the supporters to get back to Keeneland for the sale.

12 May 2010 10:42 AM
I Davis

Seems like we keep rehashing this, over and over again. Casner/Win Star are a success in breeding wonderful horses, such as Super Saver.  However, like others on the BC Board, they don't take into consideration the two most important elements...the horses and the fans!  For the past 10 years, we've looked forward to visiting the BC at various locations.  However, we don't enjoy traveling by air, don't enjoy being in the state of "fruits and nuts", and don't believe our wonderful dirt athletes should be subjected to the's just not right.  Overseas horses race primarily on turf.  We perhaps should upgrade a turf race at the classic distance and similar $$ value to continue to encourage overseas participation.  However, the classic should be run on dirt...synthetic is more like's no substitute for our dirt runners.  The best horses in this country did not race in the BC last year...I wonder why??  Let's do what's right by our Thoroughbred athletic stars and the fans, without which there would be no BC.

12 May 2010 10:52 AM

When you consider that the PGA rotates locations for every major except the Masters, I can see the issue at hand. Racing needs new fans and it is easier to get them to come to an event close to home, but it also needs sponsorships and media attention. I believe the correct way to solve this issue is to rotate between 2 locations for a 10 year time period. This way the sponsors know the venues for a 10 year period, fans on both sides of the country will have a world class event every other year, and new fans will have the opportunity to attend. But all of this is for not, if racing fails to regulate drug policy for horses, educate and cultivate new fans, and have the tracks bond together under a commissioner who has the authority to make the necessary adjustments that will benefit racing as a whole and not just a few.

12 May 2010 11:03 AM
Gary at Rough Creek

Mike Pender,

"Synthetics must stay" you say?  You are saying that since the old Santa Anita dirt wasn't as safe as the new surface (according to you...please include data if you have it), then the new surface must stay.

Sounds to me like you simply had a poorly maintained dirt track before.  

While the argument proposed here has some merit, I for one will nominate fewer foals to The Breeder's Cup in the future if Santa Anita (with a synthetic surface) is picked as a permanent site for The Breeder's Cup.

12 May 2010 11:14 AM

I spent the last two Breeder`s Cups watching live racing at the Fair Grounds on real dirt.  I did make a few plays on the BC turf races, but passed on all that were on polycrap.  This year I`ll be at a local OTB watching the CD BC.  With the permanent lights now in place CD would have the ability to attract more viewers by racing into prime time.  They`d get my vote if it was mandated a permanent site be chosen.  I`m for the continued rotation and see no reason for racing to bail out Cal racing because of their ineptness.

I believe both AP and Woodbine had dirt when they hosted.  Someone mentioned Hialeah which would be nice if they can ever get their act together.

12 May 2010 11:31 AM

Wrong, wrong, wrong! Why should I, and many other racing fans, be denied the chance to see the BC live at least once every five years? I go to all the BCs at Belmont, and have been waiting patiently for the next one. Having it permantly at SA is a slap in the face to me & many others. Boo! to this plan!

12 May 2010 12:14 PM

Don't be fooled by the 2 years in Cal as what it will be all the time. Cal has already ruined their racing industry and I am not talking about the synthetic track mandate. The BC was meant to rotate venues and should stay that way. I also seem to remember that the BC was run more than once in OCT.  Why did we change to Nov. so we could hopelessly fight with college football for air time???? I don't understand the thinking other than to bail out Cal racing.  One should never put all his eggs in one damn basket, you might not like what you get in return.

12 May 2010 12:32 PM

I for one would go every year if it were held warmer climate track. My only draw back to Santa Anita as many others have commented has been the surface at Santa Anita. I feel its not fair to the true dirt horse.

The Classic is 1-1/4 on dirt but due to the surface at Santa Anita seems the turf horses fare well, and the dirt horses either don't show or don't fare as well which is not fair to owners, trainers nor to the fans. Last year was a classic example; Rachel vs Zenyatta never materialized, I am sure that the total count for the Breeder Cups would have been outrageous to see the two race.

The only draw back is some fans do go to the races and site see. This year is at Churchill, I have been to the BC here a few times and seen the sites, due the weather and being at Churchill we have decided to skip this year.

I for one would have gone back in a heartbeat to California track even thou we have been there a few times, the weather is just so nice and you can enjoy the view always.

12 May 2010 12:40 PM

Hollywood Park is the ideal place for the Breeders Cup. No jsut beacuse it was the place it all orginated, but it's got the best weather in CA, best location (close proximity to the airport), best barns/backside, best set up for fans and horsemen. But they should not hold the BC in one place every year. Move it around the country - that's the best idea for promotion of racing and gaining new fans.

12 May 2010 12:43 PM

Not on a synthetic are you going to attract racing fans if every year the "big" horses sit out because they don't want to run on synthetics? Suppose every year the Derby winner, top sprinter, top handicap horse, top mare sat home because they don't want to run on synthetics? Many "non-horse" people only know the Triple Crown horses....they would have no interest in the Breeder's Cup if there are no names in it they know?? I am a die hard racing fan...I didn't watch it last year because it was on synthetic and I won't ever watch it if it's on synthetic...don't need to see my favorite horses finish last and have no chance to prove how great they are....I used to wait all year for the Breeder's Cup....

12 May 2010 12:44 PM

Having the Breeders Cup at one location will not allow the event to grow beyond what it has already achieved.  If a dirt track is installed, I would have no problem with having it staged several years at one place.....but no more than 3 years at a time.  Then it should move to another track.  To those people who say the weather is the biggest reason, remember that races are run even in the rain.  Weather is part of our sport.  We can't make the biggest factor in choosing a track be the weather.  As for making money, no track makes more on the Breeders Cup than Churchill.  To the writer who complained about track got the wrong track.  Churchill constantly gets rave reviews for being fair, even when it is sloppy.  Santa Anita cannot handle 150,000 fans like Churchill.  Granted, Churchill has yet to open the infield for the B.C., probably because no one has asked them.  The center of the Thoroughbred Breeding and Racing world is in Kentucky.....Not Florida....Not California.  Besides, with the financial black hole California is in right now, I would not trust them not to put some "Tax" on the winnings and on wagers placed to help them out of the financial mess they are in.  Until Santa Anita gets rid of their synthetic track and installs dirt, they should not be in the running for the host site on a permanent basis.  If they choose a 3 year plan....then I have no beef.  If it is permanently placed at S.A.,,,,the Breeders Cup will be dead within 10 years and Dubai will take over as the horse racing capital of the world.

12 May 2010 12:47 PM
Tim G

According to CDI and many other tracks, they don't make money on the BC. Hotels, restaurants, car rental those in the communities are who benefit from the event.

Why should we save Cal racing, KY racing is in trouble too, as are our breeding programs. Cal racing has shot itself in the foot more than any other venue or location.

Santa Anita's surface was safe for the BC but what happened afterwards? So does that show that they groom the track well for the BC but nothing else? The same with their dirt tracks. That to me is a travesty. So Cal has two days with no breakdowns (probably more the intense scrutiny by vets and scratching of horses that may have the slightest issue)but then has one after the other immediately following. That helps the industry?

Del Mar had a bunch of breakdowns the last two years, dirt track Saratoga had none on the DIRT.

I'm with those saying count me out. Even though we nominated some initially, we didn't enter and didn't go in 2009. Either horses like the synthetics or they don't and at a race that costs a fortune to enter is a heck of a time to test it out.

You'll see more and more drop off.

Hold it where the fans will come, if you aren't going to rotate it then definitely hold it where the handle will be up, the viewership will mean something and the fans will come.

As far as what you say Robert? Do you think owners from other areas are going to go rally to save Cal racing when going to some big races at other tracks, spreading their stables out can help save many tracks?

Also, was the BC designed to save a failing track or to showcase the best horses?

The best horses won't show up and those who do seem to run like crap. Poor O2 sats from pollution, the sudden rash of earthquakes in the last several months it's not all hunky dory there either.

12 May 2010 12:47 PM

I Davis,

Please name the THE BEST HORSES IN THE COUNTRY  who didn't run in the BCC last year? I would really like to know.

12 May 2010 12:56 PM

Wow. As a native Californian who’s very proud of my state, I’m kinda shocked at the enmity thrown our way. It’s one thing to have an opinion, but it’s entirely something different to go on the attack like most of you have. I hope they move the BC to Santa Anita. I’d love to see your brains explode. Y’all seem to be living in some bizarre fantasy of what California actually IS. The rather pathetic hysteria about the synthetic track (which, as others have pointed out, is NOT plastic) conveniently ignores the fact that a track in your beloved home state of Kentucky ALSO has a synthetic surface. California is not the only state with synthetic racetracks, but it’s surely the state you guys hate the most. To wit:


“In the mid 1990's 3 year olds prepping at Santa Anita had tons of success in the Triple Crown races now the California 3 year olds are automatic throw outs because of the fake dirt.”

They’re actually throw-outs because of the sheets of rain that flood Churchill Downs. Apparently you weren’t paying attention, though, when the talk throughout the Triple Crown was how the California horses were moving way up when they went from the synthetic to the dirt. Check the preps. You’ll see. Also, a DRY Churchill Downs (a frightening rarity) produced a pretty good synthetic one-two in the Oaks. But hey, you get to ignore that. Tremendous. Maybe CD should have taken the money they spent for their stupid lights and put a dome over the track instead.

Yeah, there’s nothing more wonderful than a Breeder’s Cup in the dark, rain and mud. That’s GREAT for racing.


“Then there is the issue of weather. You can predict and prepare for a hurricane, but you can NOT for an EARTHQUAKE. Oh how quickly Californians blow off earthquakes as just another thing they have to deal with in beautiful, phoney, erhh, sunny California.”

Oh, Mark. Dear, sweet, blinded Mark. Every year, there are reports of hurricanes and tornados and floods and decimation throughout the Midwest and up and down the Eastern seaboard. If people could REALLY prepare for that kind of weather, then we wouldn’t be seeing cows floating away on the news, would we? There have been three major earthquakes in California in the past FORTY years: Sylmar, Oakland and Northridge. So that’s exactly TWO in SoCal. And there hasn’t been one in almost twenty years. Not only that, but having lived through all the major earthquakes, SoCal has been able to survive quite nicely. Seriously, your bias is shocking. Learn something before you post!

12 May 2010 1:13 PM
The Kid

Seems like the West Coast folks want it to stay there for selfish reasons.  I agree with the guy who pionts out the Super Bowl being in different cities and thriving.  Maybe the BC board needs to have a sit-down with the Super Bowl people to see what they are doing wrong ?   BC should do what they WERE doing, taking it to tracks that never had it before - what about Saratoga, Keeneland, Lone Star, Philly Park, Woodbine, or even (gulp)  Calder ?  Why ?  No, why NOT ?

12 May 2010 1:41 PM
Tom D

Mike P., I don't think anyone is disputing the safety statistics you refer to regarding catastrophic breakdowns.  But you are comparing apples to oranges.  The new synthetic cushion track with a rebuilt base and investment (over several years and re-dos) with the old dirt track, that probably had a rock hard base and was kept maintained for speed at the expense of safety.  I would bet that a much lesser investment in rebuilding the base of the previous dirt track and putting in a new dirt track and not making it rock hard for speed would have seen comparable safety statistics concerning breakdowns, without the increase in soft tissue injuries you are experiencing now.

On another point, the results of the voting last year for HOY says a lot about the preferences of the majority of the horse racing community regarding East vs West coast product.  I happen to think the wrong horse won the vote, by the way.

12 May 2010 2:18 PM

Keep rotating!  Going to different tracks (with different surfaces) in different places is a big part of the fun for racing fans.  (And racing fans actually matter, right?) Sure, there is a learning curve in presenting this event for the different tracks, but a number of them have done a very good job (and others can learn and improve). Sorry, but this idea of a permanent site (the "Cal-Cup") is a real dud.  I think fans will quickly lose interest if BC management does this.  

12 May 2010 2:19 PM
Duncan Chamers

We already have a sythetic track championship it's called the World Cup and it's for double the money, and best of all I don't have to pony up $500 when my foal is only a few months old. Rotate the cup, go back to the original seven races thereby freeing up money to supplement more stakes throughout the country, especially distance races. That's how you keep those $500 nominations coming in.

12 May 2010 2:32 PM

Brushfires, earthquakes, 90 degree heat in November and smog - wow, sounds great.  Yes, Santa Anita is a gorgeous track but it's unfortunately surrounded by some of the worst traffic and most expensive accomodations in the USA.  At least a three track rotation and a dirt track at Santa Anita makes more sense.  I understand about California racing being in dire straits but horse racing nationwide isn't exactly thriving either.  The Euros can have their chance in the BCC every three years on the Pro-Ride, and they can compete at Meydan.  America is dirt horse country.          

12 May 2010 3:24 PM

With all due respect, I disagree with the idea of a permanent Breeders' Cup location.

1. There are thoroughbred breeders in most of the states and around the world. People who nominate their foals can't always get out to Los Angeles. Many find Belmont, Churchill, or Gulfstream Park much easier to get to - as do the fans.

2. The Santa Anita surface eliminates more horses than it includes. It would be patently unfair to require owners to forego the Breeders Cup races year after year simply because their horses do not run well on synthetic surfaces.

3. The weather may have been a valid point had Gulfstream Park never been a Breeders' Cup venue. I've been to Breeders' Cup races at Churchill, Belmont, Gulfstream and Santa Anita. Only once - has the weather been even slightly uncomfortable and that was partially due to the fact that daylight savings time ended earlier than it does presently. That was at Churchill Downs the year of Personal Ensign's amazing performance - one of the best of all time - in the Distaff and Alysheba's tour de force in the Classic. Both were races that essentially defined the reason for the races.

I probably could come up with many more reasons, but these are the three that leapt immediately to mind. Racing needs to reach out and attract more fans. Pigeon-holing the Breeders Cup races to only one location would be counter to that. Keep it moving! Keep bringing in more fans.

12 May 2010 3:35 PM

Don't like it.  Really don't like it.  BC was invented as a travelling championship show.  Everyone is entitled to their opinion but duct-taping it to Santa Anita means that no one else anywhere in NAm (yes, I would really like to see it at Woodbine again) is worthy of seeing some of the best actually do their stuff on their track.

In case you haven't already gotten my opinion: I don't like it.  

(and please note that I'm saying this politely because I didn't use capitals or bad words)

12 May 2010 4:29 PM

I'm going to the BC at Churchill this fall because apparently chances are good that it'll be my last chance to do so east of the Mississippi. I won't be spending my hard earned vacation time and money to fly to California for the traffic, smog, and high prices.

But hey, maybe that's just me.

12 May 2010 6:05 PM

Too far away from everywhere else. Bad idea. Three alternating locations (one being Woodbine, an exceptional facility) or one central location is better.

12 May 2010 6:49 PM

Re dirt vs synthetic, maybe races on all three surfaces should be offered. You can do it if there are tracks near each other. Eg dirt & turf (or synthetic & turf) one day, synthetic one day at one track, then the other races at the other track the other day. Is that workable? It is up here, where Woodbine has Poly & turf, and Fort Erie has dirt. Both meets run at the same time.

May not be possible. I'm just tossing a couple of ideas out to try & get people to think outside the box.

12 May 2010 6:55 PM

The comment about worrying about earthquakes is hilarious.  Spoken like a jittery Easter Coaster!  :D  Truly, though, while it is not the norm, and that fall is usually a very pleasant time of year out here, it can be brutally hot, smoggy, and, as you see a several years ago, smokey and ashy.  I attended BC 2009 and it was glorious.  I'd love for SA/Oak Tree to be one of the permanent rotating sites, but the more people that can experience racing at that level, and at venues that can really make it a pleasure for fans, the better for the sport.  A permanent site makes no sense at all, and this article reads like a something totally disconnected with any kind of reality in which the business and sport currently exists.  

12 May 2010 6:58 PM

I think Santa Anita truly is "The Great Race Place" but as a permanent site for the BC - no.  You really make it difficult for anyone in the midwest, or east - like me in Florida, as a regular handicapper/fan to attend when it is always clear across the country.  The other problem is that now that we have synthetic surfaces you give one group of horses a permanent advantage ... it's one thing for it to be every so many years they have the edge, but every year?  Some horses/owners/trainers won't ever go, and now you've lost the appeal of it truly being a championship day.  Include the So. Cal tracks on a permanent rotation - yes; as the only

12 May 2010 7:24 PM
Not Jaded

Smog,Traffic,Synthetics,CelebritiesEarthquakes?..Oh my!  Good grief!

Santa Anita is the ONLY site where the BC makes any kind of profit.That's huge.

Some say the synthetic surface favors synthetic raced horses?... Well,..same thing goes for the usually 'horrific weather' in KY & back East when they host the BC,..which horses does an off-track favor?..

12 May 2010 7:43 PM

You really shouldn't try to compare the Super Bowl to ANY other sporting event.

It's like trying to compare Apples to Orangutans.  

They could hold the Super Bowl at the North Pole every year and it would still be the most watched event on the Planet.

And if anyone has really noticed, (for the most part) they've tried to hold the Super Bowl in nice, warm and sunny locations.   Only once every so often going to a cold, northern State.

I also love how Fair Weathered some of our Racing Fans really are.

At times, some of you complain that no one is trying to help save our sport.   And now, when someone talks about making a move that might help save Racing in California, those same people start saying that it shouldn't be up to US to save it, it should be up to either Californias Government OR Anyone, but US.

Their damned if they do and damned if they don't !!!

12 May 2010 8:07 PM
Pam S.

This is maybe a small point in the large scheme of things, but I would like to mention that I've never had a problem with overpriced accommodations in the Arcadia-Monrovia area.

I went to the 2003 BC, with reservations made six months in advance at my favorite modest motel where I've stayed since 1998 when going to SA.  Very cheap and five minutes away.  Unfortunately, this establishment was booked for the 2009 Cup (by people who had reserved when they checked out after the '08 Cup, which I didn't attend).  So on the Internet I found similar accommodations in Pasadena, not even 20 minutes from the track. Also very reasonable.  

Now Del Mar?  I have found that to be a completely different story.  I don't think the BC should ever come to Del Mar.

12 May 2010 9:51 PM
Mike in SB

I understand the fans who want to see the Breeders Cup or have issues with the surface at Santa Anita. But I think people should realize the decision will be made on economic issues. The biggest problem is that Churchill Downs, being a public company, is mainly concerned with making money for the shareholders, as a result it is difficult for the Breeders Cup to make money when it is held in Kentucky. If you eliminate the Churchill Downs owned tracks for this reason, and Gulfstream because it is now too small, Oaklawn with no grass track, and Hollywood Park because it will probably be a strip mall soon, the major tracks left are Santa Anita and Belmont. I like Belmont but the Breeders Cups there have the lowest crowds and the weather can be bad, and if you look at the racing news, there is no guarantee that they will even be racing after June, check out the Saratogian newspaper, they are even concerned that Saratoga will not run. I think this is why Santa Anita looks so good to the Breeders Cup. Also the fans that want the Breeders Cup in Kentucky, write to Churchill Downs and its shareholders and try to get them to do something for the good of the sport instead of thinking of profit only.

12 May 2010 10:03 PM

One Word... DIRT! I don't mind permanance, then again I don't mind rotation either, but you simply can't run the 'Dirt' Mile on a synthetic surface! The 'Synthetic' Mile, maybe.

12 May 2010 10:11 PM

I like the idea of rotation but would limit it to just 3 to 4 of the bigger tracks. I would also try to spread it across country as much as possible to give the fans a better chance to be within reasonable driving distance.  Each venue could have the event 2 years in a row to capture some of the benefits mentioned about repeat vendors and logistics.  I hope to travel to Santa Anita someday but don't want to have to go there for the Breeder's Cup.  I will attend Churchill every time it is there.  If there were only one location, Churchill would have to be it.  I do like the fact that the racing surface at Santa Anita has seemed safer for the horses though.  I have watched numerous breeder's cup races and can't recall one without at least one breakdown with the exception of Santa Anita.      

12 May 2010 11:37 PM
John T

I shall never forget the year the

Breeders Cup was held at Woodbine.It was a warm sunny fall afternoon unusual for the time of year and as I looked down at the paddock there was that great champion Cigar looking every bit the magnificent thoroughbred he was

basking in the afternoon sunshine.I shall never forget that moment as long as I live and now the powers that be what to deny racing fans moments like that and run the Breeders Cup at one venue.

12 May 2010 11:44 PM

I love WinStar Farm (my SN being only one of the reasons!), so I'm surprised that I disagree with one of its leaders. Even crazier considering he wants to put the event in my home state every year.

The Breeders' Cup is not the US Open of tennis, which needs dozens of tennis courts to hold all of the matches during week one of the tournament, not to mention have enough practice courts. This was the reason they built one big facility for the Open, not sponsorship dollars. They built it in New York for the sponsorship dollars. Plus, when relying on those dollars, it's very important to consider that the USTA produces a consistent roster of players at their annual event, something horse racing cannot do.

Why no mention of golf's US Open, which changes its site every year? All indicators suggest the USGA does really well with that plan.

My plan for the Breeders' Cup is similar to my plan for golf's PLAYERS Championship. That event's problem is it wants to be a "major," but playing it at one course is too similar to the Masters. So, much like everyone's suggestion for the BC, rotate it between 3 courses. One tweak:  make sure Sawgrass gets it every other year.

People have suggested 3 or 4 sites to rotate the BC. Because of the California weather, I would mandate that Santa Anita gets the event every odd-numbered year while the other sites rotate on the even years. Why would we eliminate the value of New York? Forget the word "eliminate." This would alienate the connections of horses in New York, even if Santa Anita returns to dirt. How many Cali horses travel east? Is it any better east-to-west? In no time, the east coast would create its own Breeders' Cup-type event. Possibly NYRA would find a way to inject more money and acclaim to the big Jockey Club Gold Cup, Beldame, Hirsch, and Vosburgh weekend. I don't know; just a possibility.

Why would we exclude Churchill Downs? They only produce the most consistently attended Breeders' Cups from two angles. They get the highest patron attendance and I've noticed they attract an above average number of Euro participants - WITHOUT the influence of Poly or Pro-Ride. Belmont does a pretty good job in both areas as well. People have mentioned Florida and Gulfstream as a good market, but I'll also pitch Chicago and Arlington Park (sans their Poly status). From everything I can remember, their '02 Cup went really well, except the obvious Tote-gate drama, which wasn't an Arlington issue.

Weather is the ONLY reason to keep going back to California. You can find money anywhere (see New York and Chicago), and if the stars and starlets really want to attend, I think they have the money to travel every other year. If the BCL committee decides to move to Arcadia permanently, I GUARANTEE you, as a Californian and avid racing follower, that the Breeders' Cup will be dead in 10 years, and most of those 10 will be spent in the "dying" phase. The people of California will not support the event after the first couple years and the rest of the world will be annoyed always having to travel west. This decision is akin to shopping for your own funeral.

12 May 2010 11:58 PM

Absolutely hilarious reading all of the California haters run down their list of complaints about smog, traffic, earthquakes, wildfires, hotel prices etc., nearly all of which are based in fiction and hysteria rather than reality.  

The 2008 and 2009 BCs at SA were absolutely glorious events.  The buzz in the second largest media market in the US continues and if the BC picks SA as a permanent home the event will prosper and grow.

I shared a two-room suite in a 4-star hotel for less than $100/night.  Total cost to me was less than $50/night because I shared the suite with a buddy. Rental car was $22.95/day.  Apparently some of you don't know how to shop for hotels and cars!

The weather was glorious, the view of the San Gabriel mountains spectacular, and the facilities at SA are second to none.  It's a very fan-friendly venue and we had extended face-to-face conversations with Garrett Gomez, Mike Smith, Joe Talamo, Bob Baffert, Rafael Bejarano and many others.  

The BC will have absolutely no trouble drawing world-class fields for multi-million dollar purses whether the surface remains synthetic or returns to dirt.  Jess Jackson can stay home and whine all he wants.  Everyone else will be competing in a truly world-class event.

13 May 2010 12:04 AM

Santa Anita has already gotten 2 in a row on an abysmal surface that couldn't even handle moderate rain.  Forcing east coast horses to ship west every year would be giving the Cali owners and breeders a definite and unfair advantage.

Permanent rotation would be fine, but if a permanent location is chosen, make it off either coast and a venue that has a quality DIRT track.  If they want to add synthetic races too, fine.  But the current non-turf Breeders Cup races are to be run on dirt, not plastic.

Do love how Florida has just authorized a not-for-profit race meeting, so OakTree can't use that as a superior selling point.

California got their 2 year windfall. Its time the folks who pay for racing's day to day operations (the fans) around the country get their fair share.  

13 May 2010 12:23 AM

If the goal is only to save Cali racing, then what is Cali doing to save NY racing?  Or Florida's?  Or Texas?  Or any other state?

The nominations from Kentucky sires keep the Breeders Cup afloat.  If it is to stay in one state, should be the one who pays the most into the kitty.  

Should Kentucky be faulted that they were able to develop a race that so attracted even non-fans to watch each year?   Santa Anita has held the SA Derby for how long?  What non-fan has even heard of the race.

With California's current state financial woes, who is to say the current facilities, and public services would even support such an event in years to come.

13 May 2010 12:31 AM

Dear Kay,

I was IN THE NORTHRIDGE earthquake, OK? I was in the Motel 6 right across the street from Santa Anita and you seem to forget that a woman was killed by a falling beam or something like that AT SANTA ANITA DURING THAT EARTHQUAKE. Like I said, you Californians tend to blow off little things like that.

With hurricanes, and such, you get at least 24 hours warning. With an earthquake its more like KABOOOOOOM!! You are suddenly in chaos. Everything stops to a standstill. People are freaked out. The horses will feel it coming before we do and they will freak out. Loose horses all over the track, running through the tunnel, trampling fans as they panic, beams and debris falling everywhere.


And another thing, while I'm at it, that is REALLY annoying to serious handicappers at Santa Anita is the bugler bothering us with his clown show and magic tricks and holding his hand out expecting a cash reward. Our money is for wagering. It already costs too much to walk into the track with parking, programs, racing form etc. His time would be better spent working on his call to post, which is not being played correctly, if you hadn't noticed.

13 May 2010 2:07 AM

UGH this terrible, LA is a ceespool, California is about to go bankrupt, The nuclear of racing is in Kentucky that is where any one with an once of brains would want to see BC held wwhat is wrong with racing you just read it in this article, Isolate your biggest event in the furthest place. Make it the most difficult for the main players to attend, when Wayne Lucas and Zito run horses then maybe things will change. Have three tracks support BC

13 May 2010 8:17 AM
Albert LoRusso

The Breeders Cup attracts the best horses in

world and the best horses will run on any surface. One venue maximizes Marketing and Revenue while reducing costs.

13 May 2010 10:13 AM

What are you thinking?  Regardless of the track surface the number of foals born east of the Rockies is considerably larger than the number foaled west of the Rockies. The number of foals nominated to the Breeders' Cup will be greatly reduced. Many more of the best horses may not even be eligible to run unless they pay the late nomination fee. This will be the end. It should rotate track to track, synthetic to dirt.

13 May 2010 10:45 AM

Ladies and Gentlemen (I use those terms loosely, considering some of these comments):  please do not insist that anyone who disagrees with a one-site SA BC is a California hater.  Some of us really think that would be an unfortunate thing in light of the fact that everyone likes to see the good/great horses in their own backyard.

13 May 2010 12:02 PM

I agree with Mr. Casner that from a financial and business standpoint it makes great sense to choose a permanent host site for the BC event.

Santa Anita is absolutely a beautiful location.

However, on the basis of the synthetic track it is absolutely not a plan I can support.  Move the event to early October and Churchill Downs if you need a permanent site.

13 May 2010 12:29 PM

This fall a friend and I plan to attend the Breeder's Cup in Louisville - simply because I'm afraid it will become permanently based in California.  We live in Virginia, and it is far cheaper for us to attend the races at Churchill Downs.  I find it unlikely that I will ever have the opportunity to go to Santa Anita.  By permanently basing the BC in California you will rob many racing fans of the opportunity to see the races live (although you can see the races better on television) and lose the opportunity to generate interest in racing around the country.  At the very least, have an east coast venue and a west coast venue and alternate between the two.

13 May 2010 1:27 PM

I think the Breeders' Cup risks alienating a large number of fans and horsemen alike if it were to stage the event at the same venue every year.  That wouldn't be good for business.  That said, I understand the desire for the BC to have some degree of leverage when dealing with tracks, vendors, et cetera, as well as providing sponsers and networks the "predictability" they allegedly require. Is there any room for compromise here? One that could make all parties happy, including plubberphiles; plubberphobes; dirtphiles; dirtphobes; Canadiens and the Euros?  How's about a 2 track rotation between SA and Bel where each is guaranteed 3 BCs over a 6 year span?  Every 5th year the event would go to either CD or WO with the two alternating and each having it once every 10 years.  Personally I'd prefer it at CD with more frequency but evidently it's difficult for the BC and CD to arrive at equitable terms. So, starting this year at CD we then proceed with...2011 Bel; 2012 SA; 2013 Bel; 2014 SA; 2015 WO; 2016 Bel; 2017 SA; 2018 Bel; 2019 SA; 2020 CD; and on and on.  Fair and balanced!  Give and Take by everyone.  Predictability...check.  Euros like the facilities (at least on the turf)...check.  Balance between surface types...check. Seems like a reasonable compromise. There are probably some other good ideas people can suggest. I do think staging this at a permanent site is potentially damaging to the BC's future.    

13 May 2010 1:29 PM
Live Life to the Fullest


Wow,'nitpicking' must be your middle name. Please stay away from mirrors or you might argue with yourself, Chicken Little. 'The Sky is falling,the Sky is falling'...


You always have something negative to say regarding California & their horses,why?.. Do you realise that the State of California has basically supported about 35 other states with their taxed revenues,i.e., out-of-state visitors/vacations/..You're welcome!..geez.

Mr.Casner isn't the only member from the Committee who has stated the desire to maintain Oak Tree @ Santa Anita as permanent host-site.It's the only viable option if the fans want the BC to continue,..simple put,..the can't make money anywhere else but there.And who wants to watch or bet the BC races when they run on wet,sloppy,heavy & soggy surfaces? I sure as hell don't,the Ky Derby is bad enough.

Even if they switched to conventional dirt,the Easterners will complain that the track is too fast like always.

13 May 2010 2:08 PM
I. Davis

Zookeeper -

Most important horse last year that was never considering BC as a target race was Rachel Alexandra....the HOTY!!  There were others as well...trainers refusing to ship their horses to the plastic track and watch them Curlin did several years ago.  Jackson gave in to these people and saw the HOTY for TWO YEARS IN A ROW not do so well on the plastic...a horse that has won more $$$ than any other No. American race horse!  Too many owners and trainers do not like the poly/plastic for many reasons.  Quite glad that all of a sudden there's no more hype about how great poly/plastic is!!!  Perhaps these tracks have proven what they are....not so good!!!  Turf and dirt....that's what racing surfaces have been about for generations...not artificial surfaces.

13 May 2010 2:49 PM
Two-dollar bettor

Santa Anita is a terrible place to make as a permanent host for multiple reasons.  First, it's polytrack.  Nobody wants major form reversals on racings biggest day.  Second, Its too small.  European horses are not given a fair chance (unless they are MUCH the best) to race on such a tight turf course (7/8's of a mile).  Belmont Park, with it's mile and a quarter turf, is a way more suitable permanent host than Santa Anita.  Third, CA is on Pacific time.  Not fair to west coast fans to begin the day at 10am.  

Also, Bill, lets make shoe requirements universal.  This is ridiculous changing shoes each time we race at another racing venue.  It's bad for the horses and the fans.  Many fans don't realize that trainers often opt to keep no-toes on tracks that allow toe-grabs simply because they don't want to re shoe there horses every two-weeks.

13 May 2010 2:57 PM

Santa Anita used to be my favorite tract to visit and play before they went to synthetics. Unless thay return to dirt I would recommend they never get another Breeders Cup date. In fact if they make SA permanent and they remain a synthetic surface I will not play the breeders cup again.

13 May 2010 6:09 PM
Funny Cide

To Live Life to the Fullest:

Don't swallow everything you're fed.  Just because the BC says they don't make money elsewhere doesn't make it true.  Their expenses for both 2008 and 2009 - both years at CA - outweighed their revenue.

You need to closely study their numbers to really know the truth.  Please do so before just blindly accepting what BC board members tell you.  Remember, they have an agenda, and it's to run in CA, on synthetics, whether we want them to or not.

13 May 2010 6:22 PM

Live Life to the Fullest:

Dying in an earthquake "nitpicking"?

I rest my case about Californians.

13 May 2010 6:34 PM

I. Davis,

OK! That's ONE. Although I admit it is a BIG one the exception doesn't make the rule. The way you expressed your thought in your original comment, you would think that you could easily come up with several. You did not. This is the kind of exageration that makes the discussion difficult.

I appreciate your objections to Pro-Ride, but calling synthetic tracks plastic (or any other offensive name)doesn't help the process either.

In the end, the most important issue is the survival of the Breeders Cup. Mr. Casner, one of its member, has expressed that the organization cannot survive with the status quo. This sport has been mired with the reluctance, or downright refusal, to change by its participants, no matter what the consequences might be.

If something isn't done. There will be no need for further arguments, Breeders Cup will be gone. That is not the result most of us want.

13 May 2010 6:59 PM

Although I can afford it, I will not attend the Breeder's Cup this year. Why? Because I don't want to risk putting out all the expenses associated with it to have the whole day spoiled by the weather.

If the permanent site was in an area where weather has no (or little) chance of being an issue, I would attend every year, for as long as I could physically and/or financially.

I cannot think of another adequate location, besides Santa Anita (or Hollywood Park, if it was viable) that can give me that sort of guarantee.

I will watch this year's edition in the comfort of my living room and enjoy it very much. If Santa Anita is not chosen as the permanent host, I will continue to enjoy the telecasts until Breeders Cup is no more because, as always, the participants refused to solve the problems and elected to bicker instead.

13 May 2010 7:30 PM
Live Life to the Fullest

To Funny Cide,

I thought I read it somewhere here on Bloodhorse,I'll have to check it out again.Or if you aren't too busy maybe you can post a link to the site where you got your info,thx.


Bitching about the SA Bugler having fun IS nitpicking...what do you have to say about the countless other Buglers around the country who change-up there routine?! The Bugler? Earthquakes are a part of life out here,but they're not as common as you think. I'll bet they get more Tornados,flash floods & winter storms in the mid-west/east on the regular.

I'm all for having a BC rotation format,but NOT where it's more than likely to have horrible weather. SA,Woodbine,AP or even Lone Star would be choice.

13 May 2010 8:20 PM

Funny Cide,

I bet you wouldn't call Mr. Casner a liar to his face. You're such a "brave" man(?), hurling insults while hidden under an assumed name!

13 May 2010 9:35 PM
Funny Cide

For Live Life to the Fullest (and anyone else interested):

Here's the link to the annual report released by the BC:

Also, you can go to and pull up the BC's and all other non-profit's forms that they have to file with the IRS as a requirement of their non-profit status.  The information there is more detailed than in the annual report.

13 May 2010 9:38 PM

Live Life:

thanks for the clarification. That makes more sense.

I have no problem with the other buglers as long as they do their thing from the track prior to the post parade. That's what they are hired to do.

13 May 2010 9:59 PM

Funny Cide,

It's not nitpicking... it's paranoia!

The odds are probably higher that you'll be struck by lightning twice in the same day at Belmont or Churchill than that you'll be injured in an earthquake at Santa Anita.

14 May 2010 2:41 AM

I remember my first earthquake, and the house trembled and shook for quite a while.  It scared me...why???  I was in Maine!.  So the fact that Cali has earthquakes as an excuse seems to ignore the fact that even NYC has had earthquakes.  And the Bugler???? .

...picky...picky...picky.  That said...I still prefer a rotation. It affords some great tracks to showcase their best....and we have more than one awesome track in North America.  

14 May 2010 5:31 AM
Funny Cide

Bob, who are you talking to?  I've said nothing about the weather.

Zookeeper, better to be skeptical and seek the truth than to believe everything someone tells you without question.  The BC, with the terrible decisions they've made over the past few years, deserve to be questioned.

14 May 2010 9:15 AM

Hey Bob,

You musn't be a very good handicapper. FACTS are there have been earthquakes at Santa Anita AND Hollywood Park during the running of a race WITH INJURIES TO PATRONS. NOBODY has ever been struck by lightning at a race track EVER. At least not in the physical sense....

just looking out for everyone's safety.

14 May 2010 11:00 AM
Midway Sue

Although this discussion seems to have fallen into useless bickering the fact remains that if your someone who can afford or someone who can't afford to go, the Breeders Cup should make an attempt to reach all levels of fans, not just the well off. Zookeeper admits or better still, brags he can afford to go every year if he wishes. Good for him. And he is exactly whats wrong with this industry. As long as horse racing keeps reminding the average fan that only the well off should attend the big events, the more the fans we will lose. Can you imagine Nascar treating their fans like this? And if you think Zookeeper that myself or others in the industy I work with would not go up to Bill Casner and tell him how we feel on this subject your dead wrong. He's a horse breeder, just like myself and any other breeders in this business. We shell out money that supports the BC just like him. We're respectful, but not starry eyed over the fact that he owns part of Winstar Farm. Quite frankly what the Breeders Cup needs more than anything else is fresh management. The current leaders are getting long in the tooth and set in their old ways. Not wanting to get cold or wet, though they don't even sit in those seats, is a sure sign of old age. The times of movie stars at the track went out after Bing Crosby and the Rat Pack disappeared from Del Mar. Can we not see the backlash after the debacle of Bravo and the Kentucky Oaks. The only reason the Breeders Cup still gets a lot of foal nominations is because most farms that sell their crop are held hostage to the fact if its not on the sales page in the book, they get less for their horse. In return they pretty much get nothing. Maybe as one poster said, we would be better off if the Breeders Cup just went away. Most wouldn't miss it and the extra money the breeders saved could be put to better use than entertaining the whims of a few.

14 May 2010 11:06 AM

Midway Sue,

You missed my point completely regarding my being able to go CD for this year's BC. I wasn't bragging. Far from it. My point WAS, I'm not willing to spend the money if chances are that the day will be spoiled by the weather.

I'm not star-struck. Too old for that. However, as you said yourself, being polite is a must if one wants one's argument to hold any water. Questioning is one thing, calling or insinuating someone is a liar IS rude.

Maybe you would be happy to see the BC go but I wouldn't be. Whether I'm attending in person or watching on TV, it is to me a great couple of days for horseracing! If it fails to survive, I'll be sad. You can dance on its grave if you want. Your call!

14 May 2010 3:27 PM
Long Time Fan

To Midway Sue-- Are you insane? "we would be better off if the BC went away". That may be true for those breeders who don't know what they're doing and have had little to no success with High class horses. The industry needs the BC to showcase it's top tier talents and get people interested in the sport once again. I respect the folks who are in the industry for the sheer joy & competitive aspects of the game,not the ones who are in it to make a living like most small time breeding operations seem to be.As they say: Less is more.

14 May 2010 3:29 PM
Pam S.

Midway Sue, just for the record, I believe Zookeeper is a she.

Also, I respect the fact that as a breeder you are much more connected, in a practical way, to the BC than I am as a mere fan.  But I think it is sad that this great season-ending event, conceived in the early '80s as a showcase for all divisions of horses, not just the glamorous 3-year-old colts, has deteriorated into something you wish would just go away.  What the heck happened??  Sounds like there's so little to lose, why not make the drastic change of having SA as the permanent host site?  

When you talk about "entertaining the whims of a few," do you mean the many fans that enjoy the BC?  As a breeder, you should be aware that without horseplayers and fans, there would be no racing, and then who would buy your horses?  Fox hunters?

Should the Breeders' Cup "go away" for any reason, I would miss it a great deal and I'm sure I'm not the only one.  Along with the spring classics, it is a major part of the racing calendar as far as I'm concerned.  Hopefully change, whether in the form of a permanent site or something else, will save it.

14 May 2010 3:42 PM
Funny Cide

Nice post, Sue.

One point I may disagree with you on is the value of the BC foal nomination.  I've never seen a buyer walk away from a nice horse because it lacks a BC nomination, and I'm not sure that it really helps the average yearling either.  It's impossible to gage, I think, what the nomination is really worth, whether it brings more than $500 it costs, but I really would doubt it.

For me, I won't be nominating my foals, not until I'm assured that the BC will not be run again without any dirt racing on the card.  I'm breeding for dirt, so with it being pie-in-the-sky that my foals make it to the BC anyway, if they're fortunate enough to be good enough, they'll likely have no place to run.

I'm just me, though.  If we add Midway Sue and many others, it will make an impact.  And it doesn't have to stop there.  From ticket sales to the betting windows to our stallion selections, we can make an impact.

14 May 2010 4:45 PM

Funny Cide,

My bad.  My previous comment should have addressed to Mark.


There are many legitimate reasons you or anyone else can state for opposing SA as a permanent home for the BC.  I happen to like the idea but recognize there are many who don't and their opinions are every bit as valid as mine.  My previous comment about earthquakes was an attempt at humor.  That said, I think it actually is paranoia to be afraid to visit SA or host the BC in California because of the infinitesimally small chance that one may be injured in an earthquake.  

Do the math on all of the injuries and deaths attributable to "acts of God" type events that happen in a given year from coast to coast.  Where exactly do earthquakes rank in that list compared to others?  

14 May 2010 7:14 PM

Well now what do you all think?

MI won't honor the contract they just agreed to with Oak Tree. The lure of the BC being under them for years was too great. The greed factor kicked in and I absolutely guarantee you that the BC won't be worth diddly if MI is running the show.

I just hope like heck no committment was made or if so the BC can back out.

MI will end up just like the rest of the company. Despite the economy turning around that is one poorly run organization from what they've shown to date.

Just like everyone was nervous when Magna was buying up race tracks, if you want to see the BC survive? Be afraid, be very afraid.

14 May 2010 9:21 PM

The NFL is arguably the most successful sports league in the last 40yrs,

and yet have no team in LA.

LA is the single most apathetic sports town in America,

I am a total idiot and can see just how moronic this idea is,

so why can't the people who make the big bucks?

because a rock is actually brighter in some regards?

15 May 2010 12:06 AM

** Breaking News **  MID has voided its' contract with Oak Tree Racing Association which was to run until 2016 and which the judged approved to continue. -- If I were a betting man... oh wait, I am. --  I would say this pretty much sums it all up.  It's a done deal. Oak Tree will be the permanent home to the Breeders' Cup.

15 May 2010 2:03 AM

I would love to be a fly on the wall for the new contract negotiations.

15 May 2010 2:06 AM
KY Owner/Breeder/Fan

Breeder's Cup tickets once were a premium they are not today.  There should be A three or four site rotation,CD,SA,Bel,fourth up in the air.  The two day concept has some good points however Louisville, KY is the only place in the nation that will support two championship days of racing with sold out/very large crowds.  It will not be oaks and derby but if the two days came every other year or 3rd or 4th year It would be huge in Louisville.  Adding of Breeders cup races was a good thing however I think seperating the boy and girl races takes away from the signifcance of the orginal championship division races.  No one except large racing fans are watching the Distaff on Friday.  The Distaff not being on the Classic card simply is not right. Currently the stars of our game are a mare and filly. The newly installed races should be on Friday and the orginal Cup races on Sat with maybe a few extra races.  Currently Kentucky has their head in the clouds with no real ability to compete with casinos across the river in Indiana.  But Kentucky has also showcased a successful Breeders Cup.

15 May 2010 8:16 AM

Keeping the Breeders Cup at any single track is basically a bad idea long term (though few people, especially in racing, think long term these days).  The primary reason has been mentioned already by several posters here.  And that is that the event would become a regional event, become stale and lose its cachet as a championship event.  I have bought a few horses at the sales and always look for Breeders Cup-nominated horses.  However, I live on the East Coast.  If I know that the event is permanently on the West Coast, I will not pay extra again for a horse that is Breeders Cup nominated.  This is not to denigrate Santa Anita.  A permanent site on the East Coast would have the same effect for West Coast buyers.

And frankly, as a fan, having the BC be at a different track each year is exciting and creates a strong buzz.  Even this year, with the BC going back to Santa Anita 2 years in a row, it had the feeling of same old, same old.  And that was just 1 year of repeating the host track.

And, in my opinion, the arguments given about cost savings and helping California racing may or may not be true.  But they are another example of short-term thinking.  The cost savings would only last if the BC remained as vibrant country-wide as it is now (which I think is extremely doubtful).  And saving California racing, while a noble goal, should not be a justification for sacrificing the vibrancy of the BC which affects racing in the entire country.

15 May 2010 4:47 PM
Will W

No dirt. No Santa Anita. What a travesty to put it there permanently on a plastic surface ! Why turn our championship races over to the British, Irish, and European turf horses ??? If the tables were reversed, none of the Europeans would be so foolish as to take their championship races off the turf and put them on the dirt.

17 May 2010 12:37 AM

I would like the BC to have a permanent home, but I would MUCH MUCH prefer CHURCHILL DOWNS, rather than Sta. Anita.


ONE,  Sta. Anita is broke, and CD isn't.  No money, no honey.

TWO, CD is famous worldwide as a HORSE race venue, and their legacy of horse-racing dates back to the time of ABE LINCOLN and the Civil War.  Sta. Anita is also famous, but for other things, like restaurants, spas, hollywood, etc.

THREE, CD has an established, thriving horse industry, famous dirt course, and wide fan base, that are exclusive to horse racing ALONE.  Sta. Anita has the race course. period. If things don't change, Sta. anita won't even HAVE a race course to hang on to.

Sure, the Cali weather is great, but honestly, we don't go to horse races to enjoy the weather.  We can do that at home, thanks.

We go to horse races, to see THE HORSES.  So put the BREEDER'S CUP where ALL the horses have always been for almost a CENTURY  --- CHURCHILL DOWNS!

And for the "plastic" fans out there, just put a plastic track at CD so they can run their races there, alongside dirt races.  That way, EVERYBODY'S HAPPY!

18 May 2010 2:12 AM
Dallas Fan

You don't have to run the BC Championships in November. They could be moved to late September or early October to avoid weather issues at most venues. And in the end, natural racing surfaces will prevail as synthetics are replaced with dirt...a reasonable experiment that failed.  I would favor a schedule that alternates each year from eastern to western venues.

19 May 2010 2:53 PM
Fast-Track Johnny

1)The concept of Breeders Cup is international,not parochial!      

2) The process of Breeders Cup is to determine which horses are THE champions! So then, Breeders   Cup races MUST rotate annually for these 2 reasons:

1) Grass horses will prove out to be TRUE champions if they win 2 or more Breeders Cup races on the somewhat different grass courses in the USA. 2) Other horses will prove out to be TRUE champions if they win 2 or more BC races on the  definitely different dirty surfaces in the USA.  

20 May 2010 1:21 PM

How's that Santa Anita thing looking now?  

21 May 2010 12:47 PM
general assembly

Moving to a permanent site will only further destroy the racing industry as we know it. Trainers who are already lemmings as far as selecting prep races will select only prep races that have a proven track record of producing winners of a particular race. A three region rotation would at least shake things up enough to maintain the importance of races on both coasts and the midwest. If we select only Santa Anita the entire fall schedules of every track outside of California would be at risk because it is pretty well established that you can't win a main track Breeder's Cup race at Santa Anita with a main track prep outside of California. Turf course preps are, of course, debatable. Part of the Breeder's Cup's aim is to promote racing in general. A switch to a Santa Anita only rotation would just be another in a long series of stupid choices racing has made to push itself into obscurity.

22 May 2010 12:52 AM

I am adamantly opposed to one Breeders' Cup site for many of the reasons already given here. A three or four site rotation is more reasonable and fair, allowing access and the Breeders' Cup experience to reach more people throughout the country. And to have the Breeders' Cup always run on a synthetic surface creates an unfair advantage to horses, who do not transfer their form well over this surface, but do their best running on dirt.

I didn't care at all for the successive years of Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita, and as a result, we lost Rachel Alexandra to the event, when if these races had been switched back to the East, on a conventional surface, we probably would have had that meeting between the eventual Horse of the Year and Zenyatta. To its credit however, Santa Anita did provide two years of virtually injury free competition, and this was gratifying. But as long as our convention tracks are maintained well and kept as safe as possible, site rotation is still the best move.

Keep the Breeders' Cup rotating: Santa Anita, Belmont Park, Churchill Downs, and possibly Gulfstream or maybe Woodbine, if our Canadian neighbors would be interested in hosting.

25 May 2010 1:41 PM
mike rullo


how is that fair to horseman on the east coast??? not only is the surface at santa anita is biased towards turf horses/euro's but having east coast horses shiping to the west coast for the breeders cup every year will not keep the east coast involved in the breeders cup within a 3yr period.

belmont will change the stakes to compete against the breeders cup. the breeders cup will become a non factor within a 5yr period.

25 May 2010 10:19 PM
Lindsey P

A permanent site for the BC would only worsen tension btw the east and west coast. A 3 track rotation w/ Churchill, Santa Anita, and Belmont seems pretty fair to me.

There end of story! Every coast gets a BC site!

26 May 2010 9:53 PM
G. K. Chapman

I'm a portrait artist seeking permission to paint Super Saver.  Who do I contact?

28 Jun 2010 7:02 PM

Recent Posts

More Blogs