Win and You're What?

I don’t wish to beat a dead “Win and You’re In” program, and I recognize it as a marketing ploy that sounds good as it rolls off the tongue, but let’s admit – in marketing terms -- it is mostly sizzle and has little bearing on the steak.

We all know, it is not really a Win and You’re In, as much as it is a Win and You’re In if you’re willing to pay the fees and travel expenses.

Don’t get me wrong, I think the concept of such a program works just fine if confined to the newer Breeders’ Cup races, which do not have sufficient major preps to determine who best deserves to be in those races.

For instance, races like the Salvator Mile (gr. III), San Diego Handicap (gr. II), Longacres Mile (gr. III), and Spend a Buck Handicap serve a purpose in helping to put together a competitive Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (gr. I), which has few major preps throughout the year.

The same goes for the Turf Sprint, Filly & Mare Sprint, Marathon, and the two juvenile turf races.

But aren’t we putting a thick coating of sugar on this, having Win and You’re In races for the big Breeders’ Cup events, such as the Classic, Turf, Mile, Sprint etc.?

First off, is it even remotely possible for the winners of the grade I Whitney, Pacific Classic, and Goodwood Stakes to be denied entry into the BC Classic? If it’s not, then why have those races as part of the program? If the winners of those races are so bad that they would not be invited to the Classic, then does the Breeders’ Cup really want them in the race? Isn’t the whole concept of the Breeders’ Cup to crown champions?

Also, what is the purpose of having the grade III Washington Park Handicap as the other Classic Win and You’re In race? That race, run on Polytrack in early September, does not attract any of the best older horses and has not exactly produced a long line of top-class winners, as has its neighbor, the Hawthorne Gold Cup (gr. II). So, do we really want to possibly deny a major horse in the Classic division a spot in the race in favor of the winner of the Washington Park Handicap, who in most cases is going to be 30-1 or 50-1 in the Classic?

I have nothing against giving a Rocky Balboa a shot against the Apollo Creeds of the world, but isn’t it the objective of the BC Classic first and foremost to attract the best 14 horses in the world? There is plenty of glory to go around for the Cinderella horses in the other BC races. Last year, the Washington Park Handicap field consisted of, in order of finish, Gran Estreno, Dubious Miss, Wicked Style, Eldaafer, Palladio, Unusual Suspect, Let it Rock, and Church Service. Obviously, being a Win and You’re In race didn’t help it attract a better field. Two of those horses have started in a Breeders’ Cup race – the Marathon. As I said, there are other places for them in the Breeders’ Cup.

The same goes for the Turf. How many winners of the grade I Arlington Million, United Nations, Champion Stakes, and Irish Champion Stakes are going to be kept out of the Turf?

With so many top-class races and major middle-distance stakes winners in Europe, what is the purpose of naming the group II Prix Niel this year as a Win and You’re In race?

The Prix Niel is confined to 3-year-olds and is nothing more than a prep for the Arc de Triomphe. The race, like its equivalent for older horses, the Prix Foy, often draws a small field and is run at an agonizingly slow pace, and has been known to produce quirky-run races. Why, with European invitees so selective and difficult to choose, does the Breeders’ Cup want to attract the winner of an age-restricted race like the Prix Niel, at the expense of a horse who might have far better credentials?

As mentioned earlier, I’m not against a series of races to set up a solid prep structure…for the races that need it. I understand the program generates publicity and gives the Breeders’ Cup exposure during the summer and early fall. But do we really need 65 of them? Remember, this is supposed to be the World Championships, with the emphasis on champions. Is there a logical reason why races like the Prix Niel and Washington Park Handicap should determine who takes up one of only 14 spots in the two premier races, the Turf and Classic?

66 Comments

Leave a Comment:

FourCats

Hi Steve,

I agree with you completely.  In fact, I would just as soon see the "Win and You're In" idea completely disappear.  It was, in my opinion, a bad idea when it was proposed and remains a bad idea.  The best horses have always been judged by their overall records; not one win.  And if the winner of one of these races has a superior overall record, they would not be denied an entry position in the BC anyway.  And 65 races?  That's taking this bad idea to a new level of absurdity.

25 Jun 2010 1:37 PM
Windy City

I'm so sorry to be off the subject but I have a question to Mr Haskin.

I just took my boys, to help me dispose the surplus of carrots from our fridge, to the close by horse farm. And I just found out that there was a (1965) Kentucky Derby winner raised on this farm! I was trying to find out more about Lucky Debonair but my google search was not satisfactory. Could you please advise where I could find more info about this horse? Thanks so much in advance!

25 Jun 2010 1:56 PM
Ann in Lexington

No way, no how, is the Breeders' Cup a world championship. How many horses ship from Oceania? How many from Hong Kong and Japan? How many from South America? If we are lucky, we get a few of the top class Europeans (especially if O'Brien has a loaded stable), but many of the Euros we get are the slightly-below-the-top ones, those in need of a major win to enhance stud credentials. (Raven's Pass was among them, in case you don't recall. He'd been beaten by Henrythenavigator in 2 of 3 meetings and had only 1 G1 race in the win column.)

I remember when the Breeders' Cup was first proposed. I remember how the industry was worried by 3yos retiring after one or more Triple Crown wins, how they wanted to generate a big enough pot to tempt owners to postpone syndication for megamillions until the end of the season. How the concept was expanded to include turf races for yearlings sold to the European market - breeders emphasizing those markets wouldn't nominate their turf stallions without them. Then the owners of stallions whose get couldn't win a 10f or a turf race with a 4f headstart or were the early-maturing sort had to be placated with races for their products. Then there were the regional and second tier breeders, who didn't expect to breed horses capable of winning top races at the national level; the BC stakes supplement program was instituted to lure them in. It was all about getting more and more nominations to build up the BC purses on the big day.

And guess what? The BC has failed in its original objective. With crops increasing from 40-50 into the hundreds, only the Dubai World Cup has a purse big enough to keep a top horse in training another year. The BC's entry procedures, which discriminate against top runners with lesser pedigrees or which had the misfortune to be foaled in countries in the Southern Hemisphere, mitigate against the BC races being definitive championships, even for North America.

And the publicity for the BC has destroyed the appeal of the rest of the racing season for determining championships. Once a horse who won such storied races as the Suburban H, Whitney, Met Mile, and Woodward S (at 10f, as it should be) would have been the older horse champion; we could watch as he attempted to give weight to his former victims, before he reverted to wfa.  But nowadays, such a horse has only won 'prep' races and most of the public ignores preps for the final event.

Selling the TB breeding industry as an investment instead of an avocation, as occurred in the early 1980s, has done more to undermine the sport I learned to love in the 1970s than anything else I can think of. The Breeders' Cup Program tried to fight the behavior that investment breeding engendered and failed, in the process sapping the vitality of the once exciting racing year. That's the way I see it.

25 Jun 2010 2:22 PM
Steve Haskin

Windy City, Lucky Debonair not only won the Kentucky Derby, under Bill Shoemaker, he also won both the Santa Anita Derby and Santa Anita Handicap. And his time of 2:01 1/5 for the Kentucky Derby was the second fastest in the history of the race at that point, second only to Decidedly. Try contacting Phyllis at the Keeneland Library and ask her to send you copies of the clips they have on him.

25 Jun 2010 2:47 PM
Annie C

Hello, Steve,

Thanks for your excellent analysis of the Breeders' Cup nomination change.  Your points are very valid.  Could it be that this is only a way for the Breeders' Cup program to attract more money to its investors rather than for fans to see deserving horses run?

25 Jun 2010 2:48 PM
Steve Haskin

Ann, there once was a race that did attract horses from all over South America, Japan, Australia, South Africa, Scandaanvia and Russia, and that was the Washington D.C. International, the first and only true international race. The Breeders' Cup's outrageous supplementary fees make it almost impossible for Southern Hemisphere horses to compete in the Cup, which is a shame.

25 Jun 2010 2:51 PM
RamblingWillie

Windy City—this might be helpful.

www.kentuckyderby.com/.../1965 (Click on the video and you’ll see Lucky Debonair win the ’65 Derby)

www.saddleshop.com/.../thoroughbred_hist.htm (Info and pic on LD)

www.danada.info/.../History.htm (Scroll down to Roman numeral III that is about horses, and you’ll read about Lucky Debonair)

en.wikipedia.org/.../Lucky_Debonair (Scroll to the bottom for SI Vault link about Lucky Debonair)

25 Jun 2010 3:02 PM
Windy City

Thanks Steve! It's so exciting to have my "own" KD winner :-)

25 Jun 2010 3:19 PM
joe c.

I will always cherish memories of Laurel in the autumn of 1983, when All Along won the D.C. International on a grey, winter like late afternoon.  Majesty's Prince was also in the race; it's a shame the Breeders' Cup obliterated the D.C. Intenational, and Laurel with it!  That was also the Laurel Futurity year for Devil's Bag.  Those championship races were held in a country fair atmosphere, with an occasional dash of glamour, as evidenced by the All Along connections arriving on two heliopters.

25 Jun 2010 3:26 PM
Lmaris

And why would Del Mar get 8 win and in races while fewer than half that at the Spa?   If the Cali horses aren't good enough to get in on their own merit, they should stay home.

Horses who are good enough and whose owners want them in will go.  Giving charity slots to never-were horses diminishes the event even further than running it on plastic two years in a row has done.

25 Jun 2010 4:07 PM
Rachel

Isaw that this year there are 6 ungraded races that are "win and your in"...ungraded?

25 Jun 2010 5:16 PM
The Deacon

Windy City:      

I was at Santa Anita in 1965 and watched Lucky Debonair win the Santa Anita Derby. He was owned by Ada L Rice and trained by Frank Catrone. His time of 147 flat was the fastest Santa Anita Derby time ever run. I think Sham and Indian Charlie later tied it. Lucky Debonair's sire was Vertex and his damsire was the great Count Fleet. Lucky Debonair also won the 1965 Blue Grass Stakes. In the Kentucky Derby he defeated the 2 year old champion Bold Lad, future Hall of Famer Tom Rolfe, and Dapper Dan, and Hail To All.

Sorry to say to you that Lucky Debonair died

25 Jun 2010 5:43 PM
The Deacon

Windy City:

         Lucky Debonair was owned by Ada L Rice and trained by Frank Catrone. He was by Vertex and his damsire was the great Count Fleet. His time of 147 flat in the Santa Anita Derby is still the fastest time ever run in that race. It was later equalled by Sham and Indian Charlie. Lucky Debonair also won the Blue Grass Stakes in 1965. In the Kentucky Derby, he defeated Hall of famer Tom Rolfe, 2 year old champion Bold Lad, as well as Dapper dan and Hail To All.

Sorry to say that Lucky Debonair died in 1987 at age 25. Horses normally don't live to the ripe old age of 48, which he would be today.

On May 4th, 2002, the city of Wheaton, Illinois constructed a

plaque of him displayed at the Danada Equestrian Center. Danada Farms was Lucky Debonair's breeder. Hope this helps......Sorry about him not being alive with us today.......

25 Jun 2010 5:52 PM
LEON

The Breeders Cup continues to make one mistake after another.

I'd like to know what they would do in case Zenyatta, Looking at Lucky & RA do not run or lose in any of those WAYI races, and one or all can not run in the classic because the final spot was awarded to the winner of the Washington Park Hcp...

25 Jun 2010 6:49 PM
Steve Haskin

Rachel, I dont mind ungraded races if they are for the Marathon or Turf Sprint -- oddball races in this country that have not had an opportunity to develop suitable graded preps.

Leon, I dont think you understand the concept of those races. I wouldnt worry about Zenyatta, Lookin at Lucky, and Rachel Alexandra being kept out of the Classic. It would be a lesser horse, but still very qualified, who would be kept out.

25 Jun 2010 7:12 PM
Slew

Win and you're in...is very confusing to me, especially because it includes races other than grade 1's.  Since it is a "Breeders" cup, aren't some of these horses nominated as foals to save the expense of later nomination fees?  Does this conflict with "win and you're in"?  And if you're looking for champions, why use Grade III races?  I remain very confused over the intent of these preps.  Is it just to draw a crowd, or a bigger field, or actually sort out the top runners from all over the world?  

25 Jun 2010 7:15 PM
skyfire

Win, and if the owners pay the fees, you're in......

25 Jun 2010 8:05 PM
Derby Linda

Lucky Debonair, a name from my derby past.  Decidedly in 1962 ran the race in 2:00 2/5.  Northern Dancer in 1964 ran it in 2:00 and Lucky Debonair ran it in 2:01 1/5. The race was delayed that day due to a fire in the clubhouse.  But my mother bet on Lucky Debonair and was thrilled to win money and I was 16 years old, enjoying every minute of the infield.

25 Jun 2010 8:06 PM
jim

Hi Steve

I agree with you about the Breeders' Cup's supplementary fee imagine if something like that was in the Olympics.I would really love to see horses from all over the world compete in these races.

I'm not much into international racing but in places like Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, South America, Africa, etc. do their top races occur like ours towards the end of the year? Also, what would be your take on the Breeder's cup being run on foreign soil once in a while if the host country can provide both a good turf & dirt track.

25 Jun 2010 8:24 PM
sodapopkid

Steve , I am confused too.  Are they afraid they won't have enough grade one's to enter in the BCC?  Or is it because some good horses from last year aint cutting it this year and have dropped back from grade one races to a grade two or lower and they may not get the chance to enter??   Steve, help us out here,  This is confusing......I am just throwing guesses and trying to figure this out....This has got to be one of the most weirdest years in horse racing to me.......I know I am not alone..........

25 Jun 2010 8:35 PM
Secretariat's Secretary

Nice Steve! Right on! Common sense for the complicated world of the Breeder's Cup.

25 Jun 2010 9:36 PM
tvnewsbadge

You guys just complicate things too much.

All you need do to have a Classic for the ages is make sure Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, Quality Road, Mine That Bird (for old times sake), Goldikova, and Looking At Lucky make the scene, padding it out with whatever flavors of the month are the media darlings come race day and you'll pack the stands.

25 Jun 2010 10:16 PM
BlueHen

Windy City, there were some lovely photos of Lucky Debonair in an antique/misc. stuff kind of shop in Millerton, NY, a couple of yrs. ago.  Actually, there was a whole collection, all in the same kind of frame, of Thoroughbreds.  They must've been photos from someone's estate.  Let us know what you find out about him.

25 Jun 2010 11:15 PM
John T

 There is no need for any ''Win And Your In'' Program for all of the Breeders Cup races.There is enough group or graded races in North Anerica and Europe to attract

the best horses if there connections so desire without cheapening the event like this.

25 Jun 2010 11:42 PM
Windy City

Deacon wrote:

"On May 4th, 2002, the city of Wheaton, Illinois constructed a

plaque of him displayed at the Danada Equestrian Center"

- and that very plaque caught my attention today :-) I live 2 min from Danada Farm and stop there from time to time to say "hi" to the horses, but I never knew that behind this pretty and quiet place was that much of a history! Danada Farm is a pretty awesome place to visit, they have a this old barn full of horses (mostly retired/donated)and there are very nice people there. It's always quiet there and you can feel the atmosphere of the past. Whenever I go there, everything reminds me of the movie "Seabiscut" and the books of Man O'War. It's really special and quiet place. There is also a nice bike trail goes from my home all the way past the barn and over the fields where the tracks were...many times while on this trail, I kept wondering why in the heavens would somebody leave an old starting gate in the middle of nowhere?? :-) And who and why bothered to dig the tunnel under Naperville Rd for bikers? I guess I got my answers now :-)

My only regret is that I'll never get a chance to see him, but maybe one day I'll get a chance, just like "Derby Linda", to bring up some memories of a great champions from my "derby past". But for now,I have to enjoy the fact that little bit over 40 years ago there were horses grazing grass in my backyard.

Linda you are so lucky, you saw quite few TC winners! I wasn't even born yet when the last one crossed the wire in the Belmont :-(

Thanks to everyone for all help, it's a real pleasure to read this blog. Thank you Mr Haskin

26 Jun 2010 12:03 AM
gammyp6

Speaking of Lucky Debonair I   have a sign with him on it advertising beer. Since I don't know if I can say which one lets just say I was born and raised outside of Pittsburgh. My Uncle drove for a beer distributer and would often bring me sports related ads from bars around the state. Mostly horse racing or the Pirates. I have Northern Dancer too. Anyway I completely agree with tvnewsbadge.

26 Jun 2010 12:09 AM
Rondo

I wish from a betting stand point that the programs and racing form would denote the win and in races. As you have illustrated these are usually much easier races to win. Identifying those races should be almost as important as a Beyer fig, don't you think?

26 Jun 2010 12:28 AM
Kentucky Tom

Great piece of writing on "win and you are in" races. You might watch the #1 rated two year old colt in Brazil running in a Grade 1 today in Sao Paulo.

26 Jun 2010 6:34 AM
Rachel

Steve, valid point about those races, especially the Marathon...I love the longer races and always wish there was some serious money invested in them...

It's not like the dirt records (as far as I know) for distance races are held by "nobodies"...

2 Miles: Kelso

1 5/8: Swaps

1 1/2: Secretariat

26 Jun 2010 7:29 AM
Vandal

AW, Come On<> WORLD ie Series,Breeder's, Cup AND/OR Water Polo are OUR designation for a Champion in anything WE--USA designate it IS OUR products/services that IS nearly 50% in the world's 'business'. Yet we are only 8% of the planets population. Call Sports competation anything. We are known to BRAG/EXAGERATE, SO, SO WHAT. It's US.Others really do not care what exagerations we lable   anything  Only France pounds it's chest more than WE do. SO, look where it got them. AND, Our horses are faster than theirs.

26 Jun 2010 7:45 AM
Ann in Lexington

Grade 1 races should be important events in their own right, not just "preps" for a race 6 months later. Preps SHOULD be lesser races that get the horse fit and ready for the main event. It has become laughable that the grading committee has abdicated the responsibility to distinguish preps from the races being prepped for, so we find G1 prep races for G2 main events. IMHO, the grading system in place recently has done more to destroy racing at the classic distances, especially on the east coast and for older horses, than any other factor.

26 Jun 2010 8:04 AM
UCLinden

Here is my take on what the Breeders Cup has done ... if a horse is being considered for the BC , the connections only race up to a certain point in order to get their horse ready for the BC and to avoid their horse sustaining an injury.

So in essence when you look at it .. you have the Triple Crown series & the BC. Prior to the TC , you have the prep races. The top horses may run up until September in order to prep for the BC. We've actully lessened the racing season for the racing fans as the top horses are always prepping for either the TC or BC.

Prior to the BC originating , you had top qaulity horses running till the end of the year !!! Perhaps maybe this is one reason horse racing has diminished as it has , the racing fan is only treated to the top horses twice a year !!!

26 Jun 2010 9:20 AM
Slew

What's odd to me is that every one in screaming about a "point" system for the Kentucky Derby, but absolutely no one has mentioned it in regard to the Breeders' Cup.  Weird and strange continues.

26 Jun 2010 9:38 AM
tvnewsbadge

Ann in Lexington said

"Grade 1 races should be important events in their own right, not just "preps" for a race 6 months later. Preps SHOULD be lesser races that get the horse fit and ready for the main event."

+1 on that.

To make one race the "end all be all" of the season is just plain wrong, especially with the fragile horses and wacky owners that abound today.

We don't know if any of these horses are going to be around for the "big show" and pinning their success to it takes away much of the enjoyment we might get from their season long efforts.

26 Jun 2010 9:50 AM
SUNNY FARM

Win & Your in was developed to level the playing field. Good horses come from all over, from small breeders as well as large.The smaller breeder may not have the money to travel to all the big races, the small breeders often doesn't get into the bigger races due to lack of points. let alone getting TO the bigger races. Why can't many small breeders quailify to the KY.Derby - this IS why. Well, this only leaves the well to do.

I AM a small breeder but I have some excellent prospects. The Win & your in is designed for people like me and there are quite a few of us out there who do nominate to the Breeders Cup. The Win & your in IS our opportunity and please remember this. Why shouldn't the small breeder, or any Breeder involved in the Breeders Cup who wins these Win & your in , also pay thier required fees once they have won a win and your in, that would be fair to the others who do have to pay. Breeders Cup is one of the few who seem to realize that it is the nominations of ALL Breeders both large and small who keep the event going. WIn & Your in races are held in many race tracks, therefore, the small breeder CAN enter. Thank-you for your consideration that the small breeders work as hard if not harder to achieve thier dreams and goals.

26 Jun 2010 10:36 AM
Love That Mare, Birds and Dudes, too!

Windy City,

Glad you've received so many helpful responses re: Lucky Debonair.  

I find by first checking out the horse's pedigreequery site can be most helpful.  Your particular horse has pic and info for your pleasure:

www.pedigreequery.com/lucky+debonair

Enjoy.

26 Jun 2010 12:08 PM
The Deacon

Windy City:

           Glad to be of help. I really adored Lucky Debonair as well. I always thought that the 1965 Kentucky Derby had one of the toughest fields in it;s history. Tom Rolfe wins the Preakness that year, Hail To All wins the Belmont and Travers Stakes. Bold lad, the Derby was also a full brother to 2 year old champion Successer. Successor beat Dr. Fager in the Champagne and was named 2 year old champion of 1966. These stories lead into other stories which carry the passion and love for this sport. For me, the 1960's and 1970's were the greatest 20 years in this sport. Arguebly the greatest race horses of all time ran during this 20 year span.

Your article makes perfect sense Steve, I agree wholeheartedly.

26 Jun 2010 12:27 PM
jim

Sunney Farm

a grade 3 horse should not be elegible automatically in a grade 1 race of BC caliber. they have to prove they way to the top, what if a horse wins a gr. 3 race by say lack of competition, like lone speed, and when there is true gr. 3 pace he/she falters.

One thing i would support is champions in Major horse racing countrys should be automatically eligible for BC races, winners of major prep races gr.1 only should be given the chance. I understand there will always be cases of a runnerup not eligible, but, that can be the horses connection's fault by trying to get to the BC by taking a chance to qualify using 1 race . Even horses running consistantly and being competitive in Gr. 1 races should be given preference to Gr. 3 winners.

26 Jun 2010 12:43 PM
weatherbird

as for the Washington Park Handicap, I have one word for you: Television.  I'll bet dollars to doughnuts that the race will be televised live, unlike some of the more logical options.  WAYI is not about the top preps, it's about marketing the BC around the tv schedule leading up to the big day.

26 Jun 2010 2:19 PM
Zenyatta4president

Steve,

You're absolutley right about the whole Win and You're In thing. I mean it's a great idea, don't get me wrong. But it's not all that it seems. Besides, alot of horsew ho win the Win and You're In races don't even run. I like the idea of making the road to the Breeders Cup like a tournament. But there's better ways of doing that. Maybe make each Breeders Cup prep race based off a system of points and the horses with the most points in each category get in the race. That might work for the Derby and Oaks as well.

26 Jun 2010 2:50 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Devil May Care is looking really good pre-race. Should be a win and she's in. Must be those good Old Fashioned Pletcher Oats she's eating.

26 Jun 2010 5:14 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Zenyatta4president

  Zenyatta would get my vote for President. And if she won we'd get the whole horse for a change, not just the rear end. But I suspect that she's too smart to run.

26 Jun 2010 5:27 PM
Steve Haskin

Weatherbird, Television? the Washington Park Handicap? Surely, you jest. Television couldnt even get the Travers this year, other than MSG-plus for New York viewers. You tell me who is going to televise the grade III Washington Park Handicap?

26 Jun 2010 6:49 PM
Zenyatta4president

@Dr Drunkinbum, Zenyatta would get my vote as well. I really wish Sherrifs would consider running her in the Gold Cup. She

d destroy anything that field would have to offer.

And I agree with Steve, I don't see anyone televising the Washington Park Handicap. It never gets a good field. The Travers isn't getting televised this year? Kind of a bad year for that considering we might get Derby, Preakness and Belmont winners in the race.

26 Jun 2010 8:33 PM
Ida Lee

Yeah, I agree with you Mr. Haskin. Win and your in! Doesn't make sense to me. And I also agree with the comment above that if you have our big, beloved Superstars (Zenyatta, Rachel, Quality Road, Lucky) we're going to watch the BC and even people who normally don't watch horse racing will watch. And you don't need any extra incentives...All you need is that "special" horse running whoever he or she may be.

26 Jun 2010 9:01 PM
TBOwner

Sunny Farm, it takes the whole purse from the Win and You're in if your horse isn't nominated to supplement.

Few if any of the horses who run in the Win and You're in races who aren't originally nominated will supplement in. It's more or less a  "win a big purse" race or "win and pay through the nose to supplement". Which when you think about it is really the only fair way to those with enough confidence and foresight to nominate from the getgo.

slew? There is a point system in place. The Breeders Cup entrants are selected upon (1) performance in Breeders' Cup Challenge Races, (2) a point system, and (3) the judgment of a panel of racing experts

26 Jun 2010 9:11 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Calvin Borel rode at CD today, then hopped on his horse and high tailed it to Prairie Meadows in time to ride there today too !! Or maybe he tied up his horse just outside of Louisville, changed into his Superman costume and flew to Prarie Meadows. We know he is Superman on the first Saturday in May, maybe he is other times also. Speaking of superheroes, how about Baffert and Garcia winning again with Concord Point and setting a track record. That kid Garcia can ride. Horses relax for him and give it their all. It was Concord's first try at a route. Baffert and Garcia have a 40% win rate together last 60 days.

27 Jun 2010 12:32 AM
Slew

TBOwner...aren't they also automatically in if their sire won a Breeders' Cup?  There are so many differing qualifications in place, how does one keep track?  Perhaps that's what's most confusing.  

27 Jun 2010 6:53 AM
berttheclock

Surprised that the San Diego Handicap is part of that system, as this race has become a prep for the Pacific Classic.  This was best illustrated in 2004, when Pleasantly Perfect had returned from Dubai and needed a prep.  He went off the heavy favorite, but, lost to Choctaw Nation.  In the Classic, PP was perfect, with Perfect Drift beating out the fading Choctaw Nation.

However, it would have worked in '84, when Skywalker won both the San Diego and the BC.

Ah, but, the year of '82, when the marvelous Wickerr won under Eddie D with Bobby Frankel having him dead fit and paying a splendid $38 to win the SDH.  He would not have fit the BC, if they would had one, as Wickerr was, indeed, a horse for the course.

I, unfortunately, was late to the game and missed the great runs of Lucky Debonair.  However, I did see his grandson, the speedy Debonair Roger, run.  Lucky Debonair was the dam sire of DR.  If one persuses the dam side of LD, you will find Teddy and Bull Lea.  Very well bred stallion.

27 Jun 2010 7:37 AM
Duncan Chambers

Ann in Lexington is so right. The BC has been a part of what has ruined Horse Racing and has failed it's stated goals. We breeders created this monster, now it's time to kill it. No more nomination fees!

27 Jun 2010 9:31 AM
YourHost51

Steve/Windy City:

Northern Dancer 2:00:00.

27 Jun 2010 9:37 AM
Giddyup

To say that the winner of the Washington Handicap will be cheating a more deserving horse from competing in the BC Classic is pretty insulting to say the least. I seem to recall that the first Classic winner didn't get much respect from the betting public either.

27 Jun 2010 10:24 AM
Dawn

I've always had mixed emotions about the BC. Yes it's always had really good fields, but it's made mincemeat of the rest of the racing calendar. Yes, I remember the DC International, and I also remember what used to be informally called the Fall Handicap Series. Now it's just Classic this and Classic that with races like the Whitney, the Woodward and the JCGC being reduced to chopped liver status.

Zenyatta for president?! She has her pride and she wouldn't like the pay cut!

27 Jun 2010 10:51 AM
Much ado

In the history of the WAYI program no horse has ever been excluded from a BC race. Since 20 betting interests have been allowed in the Derby, about a dozen horses have been excluded. The term is catchy and used in other sports (prominently this past week with the US soccer team). At worst the program is confusing to dedicated fans, but it is an effective marketing tool for tracks that could use the help like Arlington or Hawthorne. It isn't some kind of injustice or ruinous of the game.

And why is it bad for Grade 1 races like the JCGC to be peeps but it is ok for races like the Grade 1 Florida Derby or Santa Anita Derby to be stepping stones?

27 Jun 2010 11:53 AM
Susan

TB Owner:  The current system is inherently flawed.  IMHO, if the BC races are to be called true championships, it becomes mandatory to formulate an objective methodology to rate the best of the best of the eligible horses.  A point system is the only fair way.  Thus I would propose the following:

1.   The first 3 finishers in all Grade/Group 1, 2 & 3 races receive points.  Gr 3 races receive base points, Gr 2 races receive double points and Gr 1 races receive triple points.

2.  Bonus or star points would be earned depending on the number of graded stakes winners defeated.  For example:  A horse winning a G1 race would earn an additional 3 star points for each G1W defeated in that race; a G2W defeating a G2W would receive 2 star points and a G3W defeating a G3 winner 1 point.  The bonus point system would bring about larger, more competitive fields to maintain eligibility while simultaneously increasing fan interest and handle.  It would discourage the current practice of winning graded races early in the year and then putting those horses on the shelf to have a fresh horse for the BC.  

3.   Because so many of our graded races, especially G1s are barely able to fill, oftentimes there are only 1-2 legitimate graded stakes horses in in a 5-6 horse field, it becomes an incredible opportunity for a trainer to artifically inflate the ranking/value of his horse.  Example:  Assume a G1 race with 5 horses and only 1 horse has been competitive at that level.  A trainer has a horse which is a non winner of two races lifetime.  He knows his horse can't beat the class horse, but assuming his horse is competitive with the other 3, his horse has a 25% chance of becoming G1 Placed.  That's incredibly better odds than running in a 10 horse NW2R LF, for a fraction of the purse, not even including the tremendous value of the horse by the G1Pl status.  If he enters 3 out of the 5 horses, the chance for success is a whopping 75% !  One way of addressing this issue might be to add/subtract points or percentage points based on the number of horses in a field and their racing class level.

Certainly this could be done with a web based program.  My personal opinion is that the Graded Stakes Committee needs to be the one determining the formula and then a standardized point system for each Graded race level would more accurately reflect the quality of the individual catalog page.   Breeders Cup championships' eligibilty for nominated horses would then be based on current standings.

I fully agree with you regarding the WAYI opportunities for small breeders.  But I do think 65 is way too many races and perhaps should be limited to 1 or 2 spots in each race.  Instead, I would divide the US into 3 regions, thus giving local breeders a chance to compete initially with less expense.  I would think that if most small breeders had the opportunity to be 1-2-3 in one or two graded races, and thought their horse had a good chance of being competitive at the championships, they will have earned enough money to travel to maintain eligibility.

A thought I have for the BC is a race for International Championship quality horses based on a point system with a cut off date for points.  It would be a race with no age or sex restrictions, surface determined by the main track surface of the host track and a classic distance determined by the individual track configuration.  Overall, I am against handicapping weights in graded races, but for an international race, I believe 5 and 7 lb weight allowances would be fair for 3&4 year olds bred in the Southern Hemisphere because of the discrepancies in " TRUE AGE."  Northern hemisphere foals have a birthday of January 1 with the largest percentage being born in March-April; So. hemisphere foals have a birthday of August 1 with the largest percent of their foals born in October and November.  Physical maturity is at least 6-7 months behind our horses making them noncompetive without some form of allowance.

I firmly believe all Grade 1 races  (except as noted above) should be run at equal weights.  I wish you luck and hope that someday soon one of your horses will be on the road to the Breeders Cup.

27 Jun 2010 11:56 AM
Larry Ensor

I agree with Ann in Lexington 100%.  That being said there is an argument to be made in support of the Win and You're In. If the races were only run late in the season for late developing horses for what ever reasons, that have the talent but not the earnings or appeal.  From the tracks point view I am sure they hope that it will attract a larger and higher quality field and improve the stature of the stake.

Sunny Farm, like you we are small breeders also.  But in no way shape or form do I feel the Breeders' Cup helps me and our business.  If one is lucky enough to own a horse that has the talent to be considered a Breeders' Cup starter the horse will take them there. The most expensive part is the first 6 to 12 months of training fees to see what you are holding. The reason you don't see small breeders in the Derby or Breeders' Cup has nothing to do with resources  to get there but everything to do with money.  We can't afford to turn down the huge offers that will be made.  Though that has not always been true in my case.  And I wished I had heeded the words of the late great Horatio Luro every time. Larry, it is always better to regret selling the horse then to regret having not sold the horse.

27 Jun 2010 12:45 PM
TBOwner

slew, maybe you're thinking of automatic eligibility for foal nomination?

As prolific as stallions are, that could mean that 100-120 foals from ONE stallion could be automatically eligible to run. I doubt that is a criteria unless it comes into play by the "expert panel".

Duncan, I'm not familiar with your breeding operation but I did read on Bill's blog that you said you were taking your $500 nom fee and using it for a weekend getaway. I don't know if a breeder with one nom would have much influence on other breeders who know that owners and trainers DO want a foal that is nominated but I might be wrong.

To me the Breeders Cup is still a goal of almost every upper level owner and a dream of the smaller outfits. What I think happened is the synthetics and how so many of us feel about running on that surface, the fact that a lot of the biggest owners and trainers made either a limited appearance or none at all. Even if we want to win a BC we don't want to go where we know our horse will be at a disadvantage or like Nick Zito and Wayne Lukas, just hate the stuff. The breeding hasn't caught up with that and now I doubt it ever will, or will have a reason to.

27 Jun 2010 5:37 PM
Secretstuff

Dr Drunkinbum,

Calvin Borel can be Superman on KD day when he wins the TC.  I was not an Affirmed fan, Alydar was my choice, but Steve Cauthen won it at 17 years of age, as we all know. HE was Superman.  

27 Jun 2010 5:56 PM
ETHAN

I have gone to the Breeders Cup site to see what the points are right now and all it says is "check back in April 2010"

It is nearly July so I wanted to Know if they are being kept somewhere else that I haven't checked or The Breeders Cup hasn't started counting yet or what ...

27 Jun 2010 10:57 PM
Slew

I checked eligibility requirements at the BC.  It all comes down to the fees.  The sooner a horse is nominated (as a weanling)the lower the fee.  And having a sire that was nominated lowers the entrance fees.  No points are discussed..

...only fees.  "Horses not nominated as weanlings may be nominated at any time during their racing careers by payment of $100,000 if sired by a nominated Breeders' Cup, European Breeders' Fund or BCL/EBF Common Fund stallion (stallion nominated in the year of conception) or by payment of $200,000 if sired by a stallion that was not nominated to any program in the year of conception. This nomination payment will make the horse eligible during their entire racing career for Breeders' Cup Championships races, or any other Breeders' Cup purse or awards programs for which they otherwise qualify."  It remains lost in a sea of confusion for me.

28 Jun 2010 3:51 AM
Mike in SB

I love the Breeders Cup, racing needs one weekend that showcases the best horses in all divisions, sprinters, milers, turf horses and classic horses. But I don't think there is any question that it has lessened the importance of many of the old traditional races like the Woodward and Jockey Club Gold Cup. The Breeders Cup needs to be expanded to a series of races leading to the Breeders Cup weekend. Take the Classic for example, there could be a race a month at differest tracks, a race at the Fair Grounds in January, the Donn in February, the Big Cap in March, the Oaklawn handicap in April, the Pimlico Special in May, the Stephen Foster in June, Hollywood Gold Cup in July, Pacific Classic in August, Woodward in September and the Jockey Club Gold Cup in October. The top finishers get points for these races and also for the Breeders Cup. The horse with the most points gets a nice bonus. This would renew the importance of these traditional races and would also encourage the owners of the best horses to face each other on the track. This could be done in every division, a series of races around the country for milers, turf horses, sprinters and fillies and mares.

28 Jun 2010 12:00 PM
Tim G

Slew, I think you're confused about the difference between the nomination and the entry.

You can nominate your foal whether early, late or standard, you can nominate horses of racing age and stallions. For the noms:

www.breederscup.com/content.aspx

If the fields are over-subscribed that is when the criteria of the points etc come into play:

www.breederscup.com/content.aspx

"Horses will be allowed to pre-enter a maximum of two races. The races in which the horse pre-enters must be designated in order of choice at the time of pre-entry on Monday, October 25, 2010, Noon, local time. Performance in Breeders' Cup Challenge Races and points earned in American Graded Stakes Races HAVE NO BEARING on a given Championship Race field UNLESS THE FIELD IS OVERSUBSCRIBED(more than twelve or fourteen, as applicable, pre-entered).

Once a horse has been ranked among the first twelve or fourteen horses, as applicable, in its race of first choice at pre-entry, its ranking in its race of second choice will be based only on the judgment of the Panel regardless of the number of points earned in American Graded Stakes Races. If a horse is not ranked among the first twelve or fourteen horses in its race of first choice, then its points earned in American Graded Stakes Races will be utilized for ranking in its race of its second choice."

Didn't you watch the movie Dreamer? LOL

If someone is willing to pay the nomination fees, pay the entry fees etc, chances are the horse is legitimate. If the field is oversubscribed then it takes more than just a nomination to get them in.

28 Jun 2010 1:27 PM
weatherbird

Steve- HRTV of course!  Okay, having reviewed the schedule at the BC web site, I don't get it.  Is it possible that ESPN is not planning any BC prep coverage?

28 Jun 2010 8:34 PM
PomDeTerre

Slew-

Have to agree with you, it is onfusing, but the nomination fees for 2010 foals is $400, assuming the stallion/sire was nominated in year of conception (2009). (And that fee is down this year to encourage nominations in this economic market.) If one misses the 2010 calendar year, the fee sky rockets up to the $ 100,00 mark or more.  Most breeders will pay the early nomination fee if foal is correct and with a good pedigree, particularly if they are going to auction.  I have a real cutie pie 1st crop Bustin Stones filly- they will probably be sought after at auction as yearlings, so, as a breeder, you can't afford not to pay the fee; otherwise in eyes of bidders, the value is reduced.

It's after that - if the horse is successful, that the BC nomination fees kick in- $150k- $ 300k for the classic.  So it really should be "win & yer  in with a pocketful of cash".  But frankly, if the horse requires a win and yer in, it probably shouldn't be IN in the first place.

30 Jun 2010 6:07 PM
TBOwner

PomDe Terre, I think you are a bit confused as well.

This is the foal nom guideline and the $400 is only if nominated online by 8/1/2010.

"Late nominations of 2010 foals may be made from October 16, 2010, through December 15, 2010, by the payment of a late fee equal to three times the standard nomination fee {currently 3 times $500 = $1,500 (U.S.)}."

"A NON-NOMINATED horse may be nominated at any time DURING ITS RACING CAREER by payment of a LATE nomination fee = $100,000 (U.S.) if sired by a properly nominated BCL, EBF or Common Fund stallion or by payment = $200,000 (U.S.) if sired by a non-nominated stallion."  Also 2010 foals nominated are eligible throughout their racing career.

This all doesn't include the pre-entry fee which is 1% of the purse and is required for each race if you pre-enter two races.

Then you have the rest of the fees.

Not sure if you said you have ever had one in the Breeders Cup?

My thought on the Win and You're In is it hasn't proven to actually have any of those winners who aren't nominated as foals, actually supplement in. It more or less is a win a big purse. Now if those winners DID supplement in, it would really raise the purses for those who are in. Maybe a stipulation of entering a Win & In would be they must be nominated to the BC to run in the WAYI?

01 Jul 2010 9:33 PM
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20 Jul 2010 5:27 AM

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