Breeders' Cup Sept. 19 was approved to card a $150,000 stakes for Arabians on the first day of its World Championships, but not before the California Horse Racing Board grilled the organization on its plan to shift all or part of a $1.2 million pot for marketing to purses for under-card races.
Meanwhile, Breeders' Cup announced the same day a memorandum of understanding with the Emirates Equestrian Federation, which will provide the purse for the grade I President of the UAE Cup. The race will be run at one mile Nov. 1, the first day of the two-day championships at Santa Anita Park.
Breeders' Cup chief operating officer Bob Elliston told the CHRB the Arabian race most likely would be a "special event wager," meaning there would be customary single-race bets but the race would not be part of multi-race wagers such as the Pick 3 and Pick 4. Elliston said he had no projections on how much the race would produce in pari-mutuel handle, though any revenue from it will go toward Thoroughbred purses.
The Arabian race didn't get as much attention as language in California legislation that clarifies how $1.2 million in Breeders' Cup marketing money can be used for non-Breeders' Cup purses on the two days. The CHRB took no action given the fact the provision is in legislation, though Joe Morris, president of the Thoroughbred Owners of California, said the organization didn't know about the language until it saw the bill.
The marketing dollars aren't part of the Breeders' Cup marketing budget; the funds are supposed to be used by tourism and marketing groups in California. Elliston said Breeders' Cup could spend up to $5 million on event marketing.
"We're not diverting funds to make up that number," Elliston said. "We understand the value of marketing to bring new people to the racetrack or Breeders' Cup. We're not going to be reducing our marketing spend."
CHRB chairman David Israel wasn't satisfied. He said Breeders' Cup crowds of 30,000 on Friday and 40,000 on Saturday don't cut it.
"This is money that can be spent on marketing," Israel said. "Marketing helps the economy at large. Purses are nice, but Breeders' Cup already has full fields. You need more people in the joint. You don't need to spend more money on the undercard.
"We need to improve the live gate for the Breeders' Cup. We've got to be able to do better than 30,000."
Santa Anita hosted the 2012 World Championships, and will host the event in 2014 for an unprecedented three-year run.
As for the deal with the EEF, Elliston said it should have benefits for Thoroughbred and Arabian racing. The EEF stages the President of the UAE Cup at tracks around the world; in the United States it has been run at Churchill Downs, Keeneland, and Pimlico Race Course.
Limited Arabian racing is held at several U.S. tracks, including those in California, Delaware, and Texas.
"The opportunity to bring together the international prominence and demonstrated leadership of the Emirates Equestrian Federation with one of the most prestigious racing events in the world creates an unprecedented level of global cooperation," Breeders' Cup chairman Bill Farish said in a release. "We greatly appreciate the support of the Emirates Equestrian Federation in partnering with us and look forward to reaching a long-term agreement surrounding the World Championships."