The Thoroughbred Championship Tour, a proposed series of big-event racing days leading up to the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships, appears on track for 2006 now that the TCT and Breeders' Cup have signed a contract.
Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association president Dan Metzger, who serves as chief executive officer of the TCT, said the contract was signed June 3. The two parties had reached an agreement on certain issues last year and again earlier this year, but some changes were made in the interim.
Breeders' Cup Ltd. would still provide $3 million a year in purse supplements for five years, Metzger said.
"We're now discussing how to develop the series as a ramp-up to the Breeders' Cup, and how to enhance the popularity and presence of the Breeders' Cup on the national sporting scene," Metzger said.
The National Thoroughbred Racing Association, also a party to the TCT, still must sign the contract. The NTRA would handle television and sponsorship issues related to the proposed series, which was developed with the idea of having Thoroughbred owners purchase an equity interest in the series and race their stock in designated stakes.
"We're very excited about it," Metzger said. "Hopefully we'll get the agreement with the NTRA approved, and then finalize the track agreements. The tracks were waiting to see if the Breeders' Cup was in or not, or the NTRA was in or not."
Breeders' Cup president D.G. Van Clief Jr. confirmed Breeders' Cup had signed the contract. He said the NTRA "would likely be in a better position to approve the contract once the TCT has completed its agreements with racetracks and horsemen's groups."
Metzger said he continues to have talks with the major racetracks that host stakes that would be part of the TCT. An announcement as to racetrack participation could be made soon, he said.