Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Breeders Crown 2010 - All on the Same Card

It was announced this past week that in 2010 the Breeders Crown will be switching from their previous format, to a same day one. Fans have been long calling for this change, and for those old enough, they have seen it before (the early Crowns were on the same day), and appeared to like it.

Pocono Downs is the 2010 venue, and this shifts to Woodbine in 2011. It takes cold hard cash to host a BC event, and those two jurisdictions have it. For 2010 at Pocono, it represents another shift. The card will be held on the same days at the Breeders Cup.

Say what?

Chatting with the Hambletonian Society's Moira Fanning she relayed that this is not some kind of grand plan, it was the only one. The Red Mile Grand Circuit is in full-force in October (and host in 2010 of the World Equestrian Games which made choosing the Mile impossible that year), and late October is optimum. That's where Pocono and the scheduling came in.

"The Breeders Crown needs two weeks to race elims and finals. So now we [only] have left the Saturdays of Oct. 30, Nov. 6 and Nov 13. We chose Oct. 30 [elims] and Nov. 6 [finals] despite the fact the Breeders Cup was Nov. 6." she wrote.

In addition the local media market for the smaller town of Wilkes-Barre is something that was considered.

"Going against Breeders Cup is not ideal. However It is more plausible in a smaller media market like Wilkes-Barre than it would be in Toronto or the Meadowlands. At the press conference for the new paddock and meet opening last week, Mohegan Sun drew 3 local TV affiliates and a couple of newspaper reporters [yes, they do still exist!!] as well as several other media types.

The Breeders Crown will be a very big event for Mohegan Sun- $7 million in purses, they likened it to the World Series or the Super Bowl. The most they have ever had in the last 20 years were the Hempt Stakes and last year a one-year venue for the Adios while the construction went on at The Meadows. "

So there we have it. Pocono Downs, 2010, all on one card.

My thoughts? Surprise, I have several.

One, I like the smaller market for this series. Harness racing is small market; it is what we are. The glitter of the Breeders Cup is not harness racing, so we do not need Hollywood stars or New York glitz. If this event could be held at the Charlottetown Driving Park it would get more buzz, and more play than at Madison Square Garden. We can not be what we are not, and we are not the Breeders Cup. It should not be marketed or run as such. So Pocono and Mohegan is a good choice, in my opinion.

Two, I like the fact that we are trying them all in one day again. With slots and simulcasting this series needs a hook. We see these horses all the time, and almost every track has a big race. It is no longer as interesting as it once was to see good horses race (like long ago when if Cam Fella came to your town you went and saw him because you never had seen him race, ever). Bringing everyone in the sport together for one day is special, and if marketed well, and correctly it can bring people out and energize them again.

Last, I personally like the fact that it is on BC day. Not for the reason Moira alludes to (happenstance) but for the marketing possibilities. Not old-time marketing where an ad is run at Santa Anita or Churchill saying "come watch the Harness Crown tonight", but for the new marketing that is out there. Buzz can happen, but does not happen on its own.

As for some concerns I have read, yes, the takeouts at Pocono are insane. I do not know one serious player that plays racing in Pennsylvania without a rebate, and I highly doubt many will jump to play exotics on this day. If I were doing something with Pocono I would be armtwisting the ADW's to offer huge rebates for this day in their platforms. Twinspires is making close to 28% on exotics there, as is HPI and everyone else. Speaking with one ADW owner about this, he said to me "there is no reason that you can not give a pile of that back in some way because the take is so high, and the signal cost so low." So, if that happens, there is some free promo. If it does not, get yourself an ADW that is rebating to play this card.

We need change in harness racing, very big change. Any change is good change as far as I am concerned, and if done right this can help the game grow, and put the Breeders Crown on a higher pedestal than it has been in recent years.

5 comments:

ITP said...

I love the fact that they are all on the same card.

I can live with the fact that they are on a smaller track.

Larcenous takeout coupled with the fact of racing the night of the Breeder's Cup will be a disaster of epic proportions (unless you don't care about handle, which I'm pretty sure nobody making these decisions does).

The 2-day BC is one of the most arduous and taxing events any horseplayer will live through. At the end of the BC Classic, 90%+ of ADW accounts are on $0 and at least that % of simulcast patrons are either tapioca or ready to pass out.

The bettors who are disciplined enough to have money left at the end of this are much more likely to know the larcenous takeout rates in PA and pass on the festivities.

A majority of the harness bettors will of course take part in 2 days of BC events and therefore be in much worse shape than usual to be swinging with both fists.

So....by having it after the BC at a patron fleecing facility,the Crown braintrust has....eliminated a huge portion of ADW wagering....eliminated a huge portion of simulcast wagering....eliminated anybody with a takeout pulse from wagering....severely softened up some, if not most, of the harness hardcore bettors.

malcer said...

Not a good idea to have both BC's on the same day. There is some overlap between fans and even more between bettors. I don't see them follow what must end up as about 10-12 hours of championship racing. I also think it might even be counterproductive for the buzz. With the BCup now counting 14 races (Crown: 12), fans will have enough trouble following their prime interest, leaving the other mode aside.

JL52 said...

How about a concerted effort to persuade Pocono Downs, and the Pa. legislators, to reduce these obscene takeouts, to more reasonable levels? These takeouts have been effect for about 30 years, if I recall correctly, and are completely out of step with today's environment.

Allan said...

One would hope, assuming it is not legislated, that Pocono would reduce the takeout on the exotics for that day, figuring they will make it up on volume.

Anonymous said...

Agree having all races on the same day is a positive move.
Agree that the venue location is of little relevance (probably should be a 7/8 or 1m track) unless a 1/2m track was selected
TOTALLY DISAGREE about holding it the same day as Breeders Cup. This is lunacy! After a Friday Cup program and a 6 hour Saturday Cup program, you would have to be a Triathlete to have the stamina to participate in a Saturday evening program.
If the goal is to live in the shadow of Thoroughbred racing, then they picked the best night on the calendar. Truly shameful.