Breeders' Cup hopes to set criteria for hosting future events. Two should be prime: there must be a rotation and no track without a real dirt main track should be considered.

MIAMI, Nov. 20, 2013--William Farish said during Breeders’ Cup week that a priority of the BC has to be setting parameters to be used in selecting host sites. Moreover, he said he wanted it done sooner rather than later, ideally by the end of 2013, certainly by early in the new year.

As Breeders’ Cup Chairman as well as one of the most respected people in the sport, Farish is in a position to make this happen.

I’d like to suggest two criteria that should be paramount. No track, except under extraordinary or emergency situations, should host the event three years in a row, as Santa Anita doing, and the BC should not be hosted by any track with an artificial surface.

No matter where the races are conducted, there will be home court advantages. These seem especially pronounced at Santa Anita.

The Turf Sprint has become an annuity for Santa Anita-based horses familiar with the most unique course in North America. It has been run four times in Arcadia and four times it has been won by a local, with Mizdirection coming out on top in 2012 and 2013.

What’s more, the first three finishers from last year filled three of the first four positions this year. You have to wonder why an owner and trainer of a contender from elsewhere in the country would even bother to show up next year.

In winning the Distaff, Beholder put in a strong bid for a second Eclipse to go along with the one she won last year after taking the Juvenile Fillies. As I pointed out in a previous column, it is conceivable that Beholder could capture three consecutive Eclipse Awards without winning a graded stakes anyplace but Santa Anita, which she has yet to do. That’s not right.

I understand the Breeders’ Cup has issues with Churchill Downs but there has to be a way to work these out so that the citadel of racing is again part of the Breeders’ Cup mix. Wars used to be put on hold for the Olympics.

Farish agrees. He was quoted in the Blood Horse saying, “If we can rotate the event—that’s a real possibility—Churchill Downs absolutely needs to be part of that rotation.”

It also would be nice if NYRA, home of more significant races than any other locale, could host the event every few years now that its franchise issues have been resolved.

There should be no “if” when it comes to a rotation. There is no other major sport that anchors its championship in one location, save for the U.S. Open tennis championships.

If the Breeders’ Cup makes Southern California its permanent home, it is only a matter of time until the rest of the racing nation grows weary of being dominated by home town heroes and goes its own way.

It’s always sad to see a racetrack close. In the case of tradition rich Hollywood Park, which is in its final season, it is a loss almost beyond words. The only positive is that another synthetic track will bite the dust next month.

Del Mar, in the midst of a multi-million dollar expansion of its turf course, expressly to be able to host a Breeders’ Cup, is thought to be the front-runner for 2015. If this is true, it is spending a fortune on the wrong problem. The Breeders’ Cup shouldn’t happen as long as its main track is toy dirt.

With Hollywood’s closing, the only remaining track in the United States other than Del Mar where major stakes are conducted on kitty litter is Keeneland, with its pair of three-week meetings.
Almost all of the races of consequence at Arlington are on grass. Same goes for Golden Gate. Turfway Park is struggling to hold on and has one day a year with significant stakes. Presque Isle has only one noteworthy race. This is all the more reason why a real dirt main course should be mandatory for the Breeders' Cup.

Del Mar is not only out of step with most of the rest of America, it now stands alone in Southern California. Santa Anita, Fairplex and soon to join the game Los Alamitos all have real dirt tracks.

I’ve been banging the drum that the Blue Grass Stakes should no longer be given first tier Kentucky Derby points or a Grade 1 designation because of the sorry history of its winners since waxed dirt was installed. Mike Watchmaker did the same in the Racing Form recently when he traced the dismal subsequent performances of the winners of the Alciabides and Breeders’ Futurity since Keeneland went artificial. For the record, this year’s winners, My Conquestadory and We Miss Artie, both failed to hit the board at the Breeders’ Cup.

My Conquestadory, who ran a breathtaking race in Kentucky, didn’t even attempt the Juvenile Fillies on dirt. Her connections opted instead for the turf counterpart. Doesn’t this tell you all you need to know?

There is now an indisputable body of evidence that fake dirt tracks are like Las Vegas. What happens on them stays on them. In light of this, the Breeders’ Cup should not even consider Del Mar unless and until it rejoins the mainstream of major North American tracks.