Belmont Park’s Oct. 1 card lacks only a turf mile and juvenile races, otherwise you’re looking at the Baby Breeders’ Cup—minus the money, of course. Which is why it would be fun for a guy like me to watch if I wasn’t already working the Retail. Thanks for replays.
The New York Racing Association puts on some fine racing days: Belmont Stakes Day and Travers Day, to name two, but this Super Saturday is really stepping up to the gate.
Now, what it could also be setting up is an assault on the Breeders’ Cup. I’m not sure where Metallica lifted the lyric (possibly from “The Art of War”) “To secure peace, is to prepare for war.” After NYRA lost its bid again for the Breeders’ Cup and with flirtations of running its own rival card against the BC, Super Saturday may be a gathering of armies.
When the Breeders’ Cup awarded Santa Anita the 2012 Breeders’ Cup, NYRA President and CEO Charlie Hayward said, “Congratulations to Santa Anita, but we are disappointed that Belmont Park was not selected to host the 2012 Breeders’ Cup World Championships. The event was most recently held at Belmont in 2005, and since then, two different tracks – Churchill Downs and now Santa Anita – have hosted the Breeders’ Cup three times. We remain hopeful that Belmont will remain a serious option for the 2013 Breeders’ Cup.”
Secure peace ...
New York is the media capital of the Milky Way (unless there is a virulent Daily News somewhere beyond Polaris, of course). NYRA put together a card with so many star driven entities (just check out this link where you can click on the stars for a profile of each of the contenders) that it could be posturing like an NBC peacock.
They are the menacing cloud trespassing on the Breeders’ Cup. Sure, all the races Saturday are designated Win and You’re In, but can’t you see a distancing power move at play? Friends close, enemies closer?
If the Frizette and Champagne move to this day in 2012, then the pieces will be in place for an invasion.
Prepare for war ...
All it takes is a charismatic leader, a Stephen King-created Randall Flagg, to forge a road ahead. Mike Repole has been vocal about an elite day of racing to compete against the Breeders’ Cup.
“If I put my heart into it, I’ll turn the Breeders’ Cup into the [now defunct] ABA [American Basketball Association]. … This could be the end of the Breeders’ Cup. … I want an explanation for what they did [in choosing Santa Anita] and they’re not offering any,” said Repole, who first voiced his feelings in a Blood Horse blog post. “I guess that’s because it makes no sense. There’s no reason or justification for it. There should be an investigation over it. It’s just not right.”
This wouldn’t hurt horse racing. This might be the kind of move that could galvanize and unite it under the banner of one commissioner, one league, one set of rules. The Breeders’ Cup will be the parading Super Bowl of the sport—more so. But you can’t maintain that the Breeders’ Cup is “parading” when it ends up in two places over four years.
If the sport ever finds a certain degree of unity there should be a Breeders’ Cup track built in a temperate location. Treat the place like the Oscars. I’m talking a museum to the BC, a shrine to the BC, the world’s pinnacle sharpened on one place.
Until then, NYRA can push the limits. Belmont’s biggest strike is that running a mile and a quarter is a 1 ½ - turn race. It’s a bit cubist, a bit asymmetrical, a bit askew, but if Saint Liam can win it from the near-outside post, then it can’t be that bad.
Up on the horizon rests a face off, a stand. Now is the beginning.
Brendan O'Meara is the author of "Six Weeks in Saratoga: How Three-Year-Old Filly Rachel Alexandra Beat the Boys and Became Horse of the Year.