Necessary consents from horsemen have been received and contracts have been sent out to carry the wagering signal of the Breeders’ Cup, which will be held Oct. 24-25 at Santa Anita Park.
“We think things are in good shape right now,” said Ken Kirchner, a Lexington consultant who since 1996 has managed simulcast and wagering operations for Breeders’ Cup Ltd. “I think we have all of our ‘i’s’ dotted and our ‘t’s’ crossed.”
Kirchner, who is president of Falkirk International in Lexington, said entities representing about 10,000 potential wagering outlets world-wide have until the end of September to sign off on contracts for the Breeders’ Cup.
“We have approvals (from the horsemen), but we still have to execute contracts with all of the simulcast outlets,” he said. “At this point in time, we do not anticipate any issues. We anticipate having the same amount of coverage as last year, including with our international outlets. Our discussions with them to this point have been very productive.”
The Breeders’ Cup, which offers signal contracts separate from the host tracks holding the events, received necessary consents about four months ago from the Thoroughbred Owners of California, said Drew Couto, who is the TOC’s president. Couto also serves on the executive board of the Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Group, which is representing various horsemen associations in sometimes contentious negotiations over revenue sharing of ADW wagers.
“We break out those two days separate from other negotiations,” said Couto. “We are not trying to use them to resolve other issues. This holds true to the THG philosophy as well, that events such as the Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup are important to the industry; that they play a larger role for the industry and should not be held hostage by anyone.”
It doesn’t appear there are any major changes to the terms of the Breeders’ Cup signal agreements, details of which are confidential.
“I don’t anticipate any problems,” said Scott Daruty, president of TrackNet Media Group, the joint content venture of Churchill Downs Inc. and Magna Entertainment Corp. Daruty said his staff has been reviewing the proposals, and while it is still early in their analysis, haven’t raised any issues to this point. TrackNet represents two of the largest domestic ADWs, CDI’s Twinspire.com and MEC’s XpressBet, as well as all racetracks and affiliate off-track betting operations of the two corporate parents.
Last year’s Breeders’ Cup, which was for the first time held at Monmouth Park, was also the first conducted in a two-day format. Total handle for the two days, which were marred by torrential rains, was $147,227,784. The $115,728,777 wagered on the Saturday portion of the event represented a 17.5% decline from the record $140,332,198 handled at Churchill Downs in 2006.
This year’s event will be difficult to analyze from a handle perspective, because in another first, traditional races previously run only on Saturday will be part of the new Friday lineup featuring fillies and mares.