Breeders' Cup Future Wager Scaled Down

Breeders' Cup officials and tote companies have scaled down the size of a proposed World Thoroughbred Championships future wager slated for later this year.

Initially, Breeders' Cup hoped its first future pool would offer at least 100 choices on several selected races within its championship series, but the plan is now to offer pools with 24 runners each. The format resembles the Kentucky Derby Future Wager, which offers 23 horses and a category for all other 3-year-olds.

"There were issues related to cost and implementation time," said Ken Kirchner, director of simulcasting for Breeders' Cup. "Also (the tote companies) were going to write software that didn't recognize a race with 100 horses, it was going to be five races with 20 horses each and we thought that would be too confusing."

As of now, the future wager is not limited to certain races. Kirchner said the whole progam is being re-evaluated and nothing has been ruled out. A final decision on whether to launch the new wager this year is expected in a couple weeks.

"They really haven't set a deadline," Kirchner said. "We have sufficient amount of time since we now know the wager is compatible with all the tote companies and there are no serious software issues. The biggest issue would be the lead time for marketing."

Breeders' Cup/National Thoroughbred Racing Association is paying to develop the future wager. Kirchner said it is too early in the planning to know how much its development might cost. He said any tote costs will not be significant. The greatest expense, he said, will involve marketing and promotion.

While a future wager has been discussed for a couple years, the project became viable this year because the Breeders' Cup will be held at Arlington Park near Chicago. Illinois is more regulatory-friendly than many states and provides the best opportunity yet to introduce a future pool, according to Kirchner.