View from the eighth pole: from sublime to ridiculous at the Breeders’ Cup – Horse Racing News


Loves Only You and jockey Yuga Kawada leapt forward into the deep stretch of the Filly & Mare Turf to give Japan their first Breeders’ Cup victory

Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the Breeders’ Cup?

Aside from for a moment the unprecedented fiasco that began when the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf horses were loaded into the starting grid (and that continued for days on end as officials revised their take on what had happened), many positive stories came out. of this 38e edition of what comes close to its self-proclaimed status as a thoroughbred racing world championship.

Let’s start with the fact that there were no serious injuries or fatalities suffered by any of the competing horses during the two days at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club in Del Mar, Calif. On November 5th and 6th. Considering how the last Breeders’ Cup 2019 race in Santa Anita ended with Mongolia Groom’s fatal injury, it was extremely important to have an injury-free event.

California, out of necessity, led the way in equine safety reforms after the Santa Anita fatalities spike in winter and spring 2019 that put the sport in the sights of animal extremists, national media and a growing number of politicians.

One of these reforms, which has nothing to do with musculoskeletal injuries, is the elimination of the race day administration of Lasix, the anti-hemorrhagic diuretic whose use is not permitted near competition in major racing countries outside of North America. Some riders have expressed concerns about the lack of Lasix, especially on older horses that previously raced there, but we have yet to see predictions of doom come true about many horses gushing blood. nostrils or jockeys coming back with red splashes. Pants.

It turns out that American riders can do what the rest of the world has proven they can do – run thoroughbreds without giving them race day drugs to treat the lung-induced pulmonary hemorrhage. exercise.

Another reform taken by California regulators restricts the use of the crop, or whip. Harvest can only be used in a sneaky manner, as per regulations, and jockeys are limited to six strikes and no more than two in a row. While there were violations and rulings against three jockeys for going over the limit or raising the whip over the shoulder, I heard no suggestion that the whip restrictions changed the outcome. shopping. Two of those races – the Sprint and the Distaff – were decided by no more than an inch or two.

The story that could have the most impact on the Breeders ‘Cup in the long run were the Japanese horses’ two victories: Loves Only You as the third bet pick in the Filly & Mare Turf and the underdog 49-1 Marche Lorraine. in the Quenouille.

Japanese riders have dipped their toes in American racing waters for at least 35 years, dating back to 1986 when Japan’s Triple Crown winner Symboli Rudolf traveled to California to compete in the San Luis Rey Stakes in Santa Anita. This was around the time that Japanese breeders like the late Zenya Yoshida and her family, among others, began to pump large funds into their upgrade breeding.

Over the next 30 years, while there were a handful of Japanese riders who competed in the United States, there was no serious effort by the Breeders’ Cup or the racetracks to recruit these horses. , in large part because Japan – which has a huge number of bets each year – was a closed country. simulcast market. That changed in 2016.

Since some races are now allowed to be broadcast simultaneously in Japan for separate pool bets, we have seen Churchill Downs incorporate a Japanese route to the Kentucky Derby, the New York Racing Association is giving a bonus to a Japanese horse that wins the Belmont Stakes, and the Breeders’ Cup actively recruit horses for its races.

This recruitment has paid off this year, with seven Japanese riders in six Breeders’ Cup races – by far the most on record. Separate pool bets in Japan were allowed over three races, and fans bet $ 12.4 million there (despite the extreme time difference, with the posting time Sunday morning in Japan between 7 and 9 a.m. The first of three races, the Filly & Mare Turf managed US $ 3.7 million, the Mile US $ 3.9 million and the Turf US $ 4.8 million.

Those numbers, provided by Graham Pavey (@LongBallToNoOne on Twitter), are pale compared to what Japanese fans are betting on France’s 2021 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. The race, which took place late on a Sunday night in Japan, brought in nearly US $ 48 million.

The good news for the Breeders’ Cup (and Triple Crown follows Churchill Downs, Pimlico and Belmont) is that the successes of Japanese riders will likely result in more participation from riders from that country, which should lead to greater awareness of the Breeders’ Cup. and American Triple Crown by Japanese racing fans and an increased grip.

One story that got lost in the swirling controversy surrounding the Juvenile Turf is the earlier victory over Bobby Flay’s Pizza Bianca’s Future Stars Friday schedule, which gave accomplished coach Christophe Clement his first Breeders’ Cup victory after 41 consecutive defeats. The late Hall of Famer Robert Frankel experienced a similar chain of frustration, losing 38 Breeders’ Cup races in a row before breaking through with Squirtle Squirt in the 2001 Sprint at Belmont Park. Frankel has won five more Breeders’ Cup races, finishing with a score of 6 for 82 overall.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Clément adding several more winners to his CV before long.

On to the bad news.

First, it is embarrassing for the sport that races cannot be properly timed. Times were revised after the fact on two Breeders’ Cup races on Friday and one on Saturday – all grass races. Inaccurate race timing has become almost an epidemic in American multi-track racing to the point that you can no longer trust the fractions of times displayed during the race.

We should be improving in this area, not worse.

The mistaken scratching of Modern Games in the Juvenile Turf betting pools began with human error by a vet who was apparently asked to do regulatory work that he doesn’t do regularly.

The error was compounded by misrepresentations by the California Horse Racing Board which were later retracted, communication problems between stewards and the Del Mar mutuals department, and outdated betting rules.

The Breeders’ Cup took no responsibility for what happened, saying in a statement that it was the CHRB issue. The CHRB initially insisted that it was a veterinarian hired by the Breeders’ Cup who had jumped the call before realizing that the same vet reported to the equine medical director of the CHRB.

With apologies to the men and women who make a living as clowns, this was a clown show. The industry must do better for the men and women who bet a record close to $ 183 million on this event. An independent review of what happened is necessary, not a navel-gazing exercise by the same people who made the initial mistake and then continued to dig a deeper hole.

This is my point of view from the eighth pole.


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