Feuds Horse Racing doesn’t need – Part II

by Art Parker

 Along the way the Breeders’ Cup opened another can of worms with the announcement of the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Championship Day site. The Breeders’ Cup has decided to go back to Santa Anita in 2012 and the decision is not popular, especially in New York.  The last time the Breeders’ Cup was held in New York was 2005 at Belmont Park. Since then it has been held at Churchill Downs in 2006, 2010 and will be held there this year, 2011. In 2007 it was held at Monmouth Park in New Jersey and in 2008 and 2009 it was held at Santa Anita. The Lasix issue had many New York trainers on the defensive and then the Breeders’ Cup gave New York a snub on the 2012 Championship Day. 

Some New York trainers and owners have already started to talk about a boycott for the 2012 Breeders’ Cup, and they may have a workable idea. If the New York based horsemen can get the New York Racing Association (NYRA) to move the dates of several important Grade One races it could hold a day of its own like the Breeders’ Cup. New York horsemen could draw from the states on the east coast, Canada and maybe even Kentucky for a special day to compete with the Breeders’ Cup. Many horsemen may want to stay home or ship a shorter distance even if purses are much smaller. Just the thought of an east coast boycott should be quite disturbing to the Breeders’ Cup.

But what if New York does not go along with the new anti-Lasix movement? Now things get real interesting, especially for those prospects for the five juvenile Breeders’ Cup races in 2012. Keeping some of your runners in New York because they could get Lasix may be a motivator to keep all runners in New York. I know this is quite a bit of “what ifs” but in a way it reminds me of 1987 when New York was the only state opposed to Lasix. Could it be that in 2012 New York will be the only state that allows Lasix? If New York wanted to compete with the Breeders’ Cup it would certainly give them an advantage to allow Lasix. 

Looking at all of this, the feud, the potential feuds, the possibility of an East versus West battle, and the possibility of controversy swirling around the Breeders’ Cup makes me wish for some quick solutions. The Lasix issue and the Breeders’ Cup site selection for 2012 are things that can blow up in the face of our sport. We really do not need this. Horse racing is yearning for good news and needs the public to hear about what a great sport it is and how much fun they can have at the track. Television exposure needs to generate excitement about the sport, not generate questions that cloud its image.

The one thing critical to horse racing’s survival is the need to avoid implosion. In the political world it has been said that one’s demise usually comes from within and not from without and the same really applies to horse racing. Our sport does not need to self destruct and that means feuds, like the ones we are seeing, need to be handled quickly and decisively. Most importantly, the day after solutions are agreed to there needs to be a united front promoting this great sport.

Anything less could prove to be our Waterloo.

Handicapper Art ParkerART PARKER is a regular contributor to AGameofSkill.com

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About Editor

Rich Nilsen is a 19-time qualifier to the National Horseplayers Championship (NHC), an event he has cashed in four times. He was the first player to finish in the top 10 of the NHC twice. A former executive with Brisnet.com and a member of the NHC Players’ Committee, Rich is a graduate of the University of Louisville Equine Business Program and is founder of AGameofSkill.com, a site devoted to horse racing education and promotion.

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