A DUMMY’S GUIDE TO THE BREEDERS’ CUP
The Breeders’ Cup will be run at Churchill Downs on November 2 and 3. For a guy like me that is deeply immersed in the sport, it’s easy to get all giddy and gaa-gaa over this two day extravaganza. But let’s take a deep breath, breathe through the nose and educate the everyday sports fan about these World Thoroughbred Championships. In other words, this dummy will guide you through what should be an educational process.
First on the list…what is the Breeders’ Cup? Back in 1984, a group of folks unveiled their version of a horse racing bowl bonanza. Much like New Year’s Day used to be, this event would feature more top head-knockers than the modern day SEC. The best of the best in every division comes together to run against each other. Thoroughbred racing is like track and field in that different athletes run different distances under different conditions. Male and female are separated, that is unless the girls want to battle the boys. Since that wonderful day at Hollywood Park three and a half decades ago, the Cup has morphed into a two-day fourteen race event that brings together athletes from across the globe.
Is it always run at Churchill Downs? The Breeders’ Cup is a rotational event that moves around to different tracks in different sections of the country for a couple of reasons. Moving the event provides fans with a chance to see the circus. The greatest show on earth is an apt description for the Breeders’ Cup. The competition is top notch, but as is true in any sport, the home field advantage is real. The rotation means some have to ship while others can have familiar dirt and turf beneath their toes. Moving the Cup around means the East and the West have the advantage in different years, kind of like Major League Baseball’s all-star game.
We know speculation is one of the fine attributes of Thoroughbred horse racing. If you got a ticket on the race there is a little skin in the game and that makes you a part of it all. The excitement of holding a ticket on a horse as they turn for home on the lead…oh my!!! The Breeders’ Cup offers perhaps the best opportunity to back a horse and get paid. In these races ALL of the entrants have a shot because they are ALL good. You can get some outstanding odds on some really good horses. How about Take Charge Brandi (62-1) in the 2014 Juvenile Fillies, or Court Vision (65-1) in the 2011 Mile. And let’s not forget Arcangues (133-1) that won the Classic in 1993. The exotic wagers like the trifecta, superfecta, pick 3, pick 4, and pick 6 normally all feature huge payouts no matter what year it is.
Lastly, why do we watch and enjoy sports? The thrill of the unknown and the competition that it brings provide us all with a little extra juice in the veins. Brother, there is all that and more at the Cup. The 2016 Distaff battle between Songbird and Beholder was the thrilla in Manilla reincarnated. When Goldencents became the first to win back-to-back in the Dirt Mile in 2014 it was better than the Lakers repeat under Pat Riley. Triple Crown champ American Pharoah’s romp in the 2015 Classic was a coronation reminiscent of Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.
So take from this dummy, the Breeders’ Cup offers two of the greatest days a human or a horse could hope for!