Breeders' Cup Seeks Part of Handle From Stakes it Funds

A projected revenue shortfall due to mare reproductive loss syndrome has led Breeders' Cup officials to negotiate with racetracks for a 1% cut of simulcast handle on stakes that include purse enhancements from the Breeders' Cup.

Pam Blatz-Murff, senior vice president of Breeders' Cup operations, said the Breeders' Cup Stakes program would contribute $6.2 million toward purses in about 100 races this year, and that the 1% from simulcasting is a "fair share" of the revenue.

"Having our money in these races (ranging from $25,000 to $100,000 in purse enhancements) makes them better races," Blatz-Murff said.

Purse supplements are being reduced by Breeders' Cup if tracks do not agree to share simulcast revenue.

Allocation of Breeders' Cup money to non-championship day purses has evolved. In the early stages of the program, purses were paid out in a series of sponsored races called the Budweiser Breeders' Cup Special Stakes. Blatz-Murff said the Breeders' Cup received 50% of simulcast revenue on those races.

However, when the sponsorship ended in 1995 and the program became known as Breeders' Cup Special Stakes, the organization stopped receiving simulcast revenue. "In lieu of getting simulcast revenue," Blatz-Murff said, "we asked the tracks for better cooperation on championship day--getting a clear window for our simulcasts."

However, with a projected loss of at least $1 million in foal nominations resulting from the fetal deaths and abortions caused by MRLS, Breeders' Cup is looking to fill the gap. It will take a total of $100 million in simulcast handle from the 100 Breeders' Cup Stakes to overcome the shortfall from foal nominations.

Blatz-Murff said the New York Racing Association has agreed to pay the 1% with a maximum of $20,000 per race. The cap will come into play only if handle exceeds $2 million, she said, something that occurred in only three Breeders' Cup Stakes last year--all on Triple Crown race undercards.

Not everyone is happy with the Breeders' Cup. Joe DeFrancis, president of the Maryland Jockey Club, was quoted in Daily Racing Form as saying the Breeders' Cup "is pretty flush with cash. I'm not sure why they would need more money."