"Players Up" blogger Indulto is a retired computer programming residing in SoCal and has been betting Thoroughbreds since the days of Kelso, cashing his first ticket at Saratoga while in college.

Indulto is well known in racing's cyber world as a participant on the Ragozin Sheets message board, the PaceAdvantage Forum, Paulick Report, and has made important contributions to the industry's audience as an HRI Readers Blog contributor.

Indulto was active in the formation of the Horseplayers Association of North America and with former HANA colleagues worked on the Players' Boycott of California racing when takeout rates were increased by the legislature there.

Taking his nickname from the King Ranch color-bearer of the 1960s, Indulto now devotes his time to advocate for the recreational player and hobbyist, but prefers lower takeout rates for all rather than subsidized rebates for the few.

Indulto supports the creation of a centralized racing authority to establish uniform rules for racing and wagering and for those standards to be enforced consistently.

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Sunday, September 11, 2016

Can Breeders’ Cup Think Outside the Box?

LOS ANGELES, September 10, 2016--Following Arrogate’s Travers victory, Bob Baffert announced he would train the colt up to the Breeders’ Cup thereby signaling Juddmonte’s implicit willingness to pay $150K for the privilege of entering the BC Classic starting gate.

Although the prestigious Travers amply rewarded the winner with $670K, it was not a Classic Win-And-You’re-In (WAYI) as was the Haskell. Indeed, the latter at 9 furlongs is the only WAYI for three-year-olds despite the Travers’ 10 furlongs as the Classic.

Six berths in the Classic’ starting gate have already been spoken for by Moanin (February S. [Tokyo]); Bradester, (Stephen Foster H.); Melatonin (Gold Cup at Santa Anita); Exaggerator (Haskell); Frosted (Whitney) and California Chrome (Pacific Classic).

Two remain up for grabs, the Awesome Again and the Jockey Club Gold Cup with California Chrome targeting the former and a $1M bonus sweetener, so unless you want a piece of Chrome before the big dance, there’s really only one way to go.

That could leave Arrogate out in the cold if as many as seven other entrants without free tickets have better credentials according to the BC eligibility point system:

__ | W| P | S |
G1 |10| 6 | 4 |
G2 | 6 | 4 | 2 |
G3 | 4 | 2 | 1 |

I was able to isolate 20 potential entrants with point totals exceeding Arrogate’s [see comment section]. Considering the incentives provided for a placing in a $6 million race, an oversubscribed field is possible for a race whose prestige is exceeded only by the Kentucky Derby.

Excluding four other Baffert trainees, there are at least 10 possible obstacles in Nyquist (30 points), Gun Runner (24), Creator (22), Destin (18), Hard Aces (18), Shaman Ghost (16), Effinex (16), Eagle (16), Mubtaahij (14) and Upstart (14).

Rounding out the possible competition are Lani (14), Outwork (14), Majestic Harbor (14) and Tom’s Ready (12).

There is always a chance that Baffert could re-think his position with Arrogate and show up in the Awesome Again or Jockey Club Gold Cup. Given his Travers, it appears unlikely that any horse on the East Coast can beat Arrogate at 10 furlongs and, furthermore, the purse in New York is more than triple what is being offered at his home base.

But given this conditioner’s proven ability to repeat past success,it would be a surprise if he didn’t take the “fresh” American Pharoah path to the Classic.

Breeders’ Cup and Horse of the Year

Question: Should results from a 10-week window outweigh 12-months’ worth of competitive accomplishment? If, say, an improbable Triple Crown victory in the measure than “yes,” then 35 days that yield three Grade 1 victories at different tracks and at disparate distances is, in context, a huge body of work.

The standard currency for acquiring Horse of the Year honors is a candidate’s total number of G1 victories. Arrogate’s second G1 score would match the already vanquished Exaggerator’s total as protem divisional leader.

The current trend of consolidating stakes into ”Big Days” further exacerbates scheduling-conflict issues that result in today’s big-event small-field racing. Shrinking foal crops and too many G1 events only add to the problem of trying to assess the country’s “best horse.”

The worst contributor to this sorry stake has to be the Breeders’ Cup itself. One annual shot at the brass ring is all you get?

What if champions could compete in multiple Breeders’ Cup races? Imagine starters from the Dirt Mile, Distaff or BC Turf also competing in the Classic? Or Mile participants contesting the longer Turf? Couldn’t juvenile fillies have a shot at the boys?

Why should a champion at its peak be prevented from demonstrating excellence at the highest levels in more than one dimension? Maybe the Breeders’ Cup could be run as a series that rewards horses showing multiple aptitudes with prize monies awarding unusual accomplishment?

Suppose the Breeders’ Cup were a three-leg event with the second allocation of races coming three weeks after the first, and the third group three or four weeks after that? Think a Triple Crown for every possible division.

For consideration, here’s a schedule of what a Breeders’ Cup series of events might look like:


BC Mile
BC Distaff
BC Sprint
BC Juvenile Turf
BC F&M Turf Sprint
Juv. Fillies Sprint


BC Turf
BC Juvenile Fillies
BC Dirt Mile
BC Juv. Fil. Turf
BC Turf Sprint
Juvenile Sprint

Day 3

BC Classic
BC Juvenile
BC F&M Turf
BC F&M Sprint

Now we understand the politics involved, not to mention the logistics and, of course, racing would need to work around King Football’s schedule. Our only concern is making a great game greater and to increase awareness. What say you?

Written by Indulto

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