I have written a lot lately about the importance of wagering to the overall
economic health of Horseracing. Contrary to what some might think, though, I am
equally passionate about the many opportunities to sell horse racing as the
exciting sporting competition that it is. And no racing competition is more
exciting than the Breeders' Cup World Championships.
In fact, the Breeders' Cup is a great time, to sell racing as great
sports competition with the added bonus of being able to legally back your
sporting opinions with a wager. And, boy, do we have opportunities to back
those opinions this year. The betting menu is bigger than ever not only because
there are now 14 races, each with large, competitive fields but because of new
betting opportunities like the Breeders'
Cup Betting Challenge and the Breeders Cup
Pick 'Em Challenge. This year, there is even exchange betting for
international fans. But I am back to talking about betting when the Breeders'
Cup event is so much more.
American champions such as Azeri, A.P. Indy, Cigar, Ferdinand, Sunday
Silence, and so many others have proven their greatness at Breeders' Cup.
European-based horses have also come and conquered on American soil. This year
is no different with top competitors meeting at Santa Anita for a second
straight year to decide who are the best horses in the world. Can Zenyatta win
the 2009 BC Classic and put herself and her connections in serious contention
for Horse of the Year honors against BC no-show Rachel Alexandra? Tune in on
Saturday and find out.
Growing up in a small town in Kentucky, I sometimes thought that
horseracing was the Kentucky Derby and nothing else. It was not until my first
Breeders' Cup at Churchill Downs in 1988 that I realized that a larger industry
existed. Many of those in attendance that day -- perhaps the best Breeders' Cup
day of all time -- still believe it was the event of a lifetime. Personal
Ensign's heart-stopping victory over Derby winner Winning Colors in the Distaff
was unforgettable. And the photo of Alysheba winning the Classic in the dark on
that fateful day at Churchill Downs is one of my favorite images of this
celebrated sport of ours.
There have been so many other Breeders' Cup memories of great matchups
over the years at many of racing's great venues. Yes, the betting has been
great, though often maddeningly difficult. And horse players have definitely
supported the event like almost no other in North America. But for my money,
it's the memories of great horses and riders that stand out the most.
We can debate which of the 25 previous Breeders' Cup events is the best
ever but there is one thing I know for sure. It was the exhilaration of the
athletic competition at the 1988
Breeders' Cup that began my lifelong love of horseracing. Given a choice
between cashing a $200 exacta or seeing Winning Colors and Personal Ensign
compete with all their heart, I'll take the memory every time. But that's just
How about you. What is your favorite BC memory? Was it a race or a
winning ticket? Or was it both?