What Happens to "The Breeders' Cup" When Breeders Are Cut Out?

"The Blood-Horse" is an unusual appellation. Non-horseracing types raise an eyebrow when hearing the name for the first time, and even some who make Thoroughbreds their life's work aren't entirely sure why the magazine (and the publisher) is named that.  Back in 1916, we were published as The Thoroughbred Horse, the newsletter of the Thoroughbred Horse Association.  Our first editor, Thomas Cromwell, noted 80 years ago that "we have changed the name to The Blood-Horse, which is merely another way of saying The Thoroughbred."  (The Thoroughbred breed, before that name became official, was known as the "full-blooded horse" and the "hot-blooded horse.") 

Today, The Blood-Horse is identified with international Thoroughbred racing and breeding news and features. The name stuck, even if its meaning was obscured with passing decades.

Other entities within the industry have names that immediately conjure specific associations.  If I were to discuss "the Form," most of you would not wonder for an instant what I'm referring to: the Daily Racing Form is exactly what its name suggests.  The Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (TOBA), Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation (TRF), the North American Racing Academy (NARA), and Triple Crown Productions all have names that are self-descriptive.  (Okay, okay... The Jockey Club sounds a bit misleading, but the name has a long history on its side.)

On the other hand... one member of the Thoroughbred racing community seems to be mis-named all of a sudden.

"World Championships," I buy.  But the "breeders" part of "Breeders' Cup World Championships" just doesn't fit any longer.  While the program was initially developed to benefit breeders with lucrative, year-'round showcase races, it apparently will continue now as a year-end-only weekend of big races.  (Read Breeders' Cup Suspends Stakes Program.)  What a disappointment for so many in the industry -- the stud farms that invest in annual nominations, the breeders who nominate their new foals before knowing whether they're stakes- or claiming quality runners, and the fans who have used BC races as a gauge of talent throughout the year.

Don't get me wrong -- I understand that these are rough economic times for horse racing.  It's responsible for industry participants to make cuts now to avoid insolvency later. But this move not only slashes the charter of the Breeders' Cup, it also wasn't announced until after many breeders and stallion owners had paid their nomination fees this year.  All of a sudden, the investment looks less like smart money and more like a shell game.  Breeders are faced with an upsetting loss, and will have to re-think their revenue strategies for future years. 

This isn't a death knell for the Breeders' Cup -- but it's a handful of nails for a coffin that we don't need to be building. 

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