Breeders Cupping the Breeders Crown

It may not be realistic for a smaller sport to have four $1 million classics featuring fields of 3-year-olds and older in together, but it’s fun to dream isn’t it?

by Dean Towers

Just this past week my email pinged. It was a note from one of my harness pals, who I think many of you may know – Michael Antoniades.

Michael was looking at the entries for the Breeders’ Cup and comparing those races to last week’s Breeders Crown. Immediately, as many of us in this game who love watching great horses compete do, he began to fantasize a little.

What if?

What if the Breeders Crown looked much more like the Breeders’ Cup?

I think we can all agree that like the Breeders Cup’, harness racing can leave the 2-year-old races as they are. These events are interesting, and usually crown the champion, as we saw last week with the wonderful Gimpanzee, Warrawee Ubeaut and Woodside Charm. They also help spread around cash to those who buy yearlings to race as 2-year-olds, and will be reinvesting it in the fall sales.

However, changing the 3-year-old events to “3-year-olds and up” can really get the fire burning can’t it? Let’s dare to dream a little.

Mike offered his first event of four, the $1 million distaff trot, to be raced at 1 ¼ miles on a mile track.

The field:

1. Lily Stride
2. Plunge Blue Chip

3. Ice Attraction
4. Pheatosive

5. Manchego
6. NF Happenstance

7. Broadway Donna
8. Atlanta

9. Emoticon Hanover
10. Ariana G

What would you pay for admission to that event?

Second up, Mike thought this race might be kind of interesting, too – the $1 million distaff pace.

The field:

1. Baron Remy
2. Double A Mint

3. Alexis Power
4. Youaremycandygirl 

5. Call Me Queen Be
6. Kissin In The Sand

7. Blue Moon Stride
8. Caviart Ally

9. Pure Country
10. Shartin N

Would you pay for your seat now?

Well, we’re only half way there. Mike offered yet another field of starters; this time for the $1 million trot classic.

1. Crystal Fashion
2. Tactical Landing

3. Crazy Wow
4. Six Pack

5 Ringostarr Treb
6. Homicide Hunter

7. Lionel
8. Cruzado Dela Noche

9. Marion Marauder
10. Propulsion

I think we’d have to schedule that one pretty early for overseas wagering.

Last up, and not to be outdone, we have the $1 million pacing classic.

1. Dorsoduro Hanover
2. Western Joe

3. Stay Hungry
4. Dealt A Winner

5. Courtly Choice
6. Filibuster Hanover

7. Lather Up
8. Donttellmeagain

9. Lazarus N
10. McWicked

If you don’t want to watch those four races I am not sure i) you like harness racing, or ii) you’re alive. They are absolutely compelling.

We all realize a few grim realities, and why such things won’t likely happen in harness racing for the Breeders Crown:

While the Classic and other championship races this weekend will generate nearly $200 million in handle (resulting in upwards of $40 million in revenue from betting alone for the business), big harness races bring in but a trickle. It’s simply not economically feasible.

In addition, the track needs to be a mile (or bigger), and there are fewer of those with slot money to help offset the costs. The race has to be scheduled perfectly on the calendar and after Lexington at the end of the long, long year it’s certainly not perfect.

However, if we do dare to dream a little, perhaps Mike’s championship races aren’t that far off.

There are $400 million in purses in the U.S. per year. $4 million (one per cent) isn’t that much is it?

In both the U.S. and Canada, racetracks and horsepeople earn many hundreds of millions from slot machines and instant gaming each and every year. It’s not like the money isn’t somewhere.

I happen to think the people in this sport – some of the most competitive people you’ll ever meet – would love a set of races like the ones I listed. Where there’s a will, is there a way?

Maybe it’s not that far-fetched, but either way, it sure is fun to dream.

Thanks for the email Michael. You made my day as a harness fan a lot more fun.