06/03/2009 11:00PM

Breeders' Cup panel to weigh changes


LEXINGTON, Ky. - The Breeders' Cup's strategic planning committee is considering what Breeders' Cup president Greg Avioli said "could be game-changing" initiatives, including developing a regular rotation of host tracks and devising a series or pattern of races better to connect the Breeders' Cup events to the regular racing season.

Avioli's comments came Wednesday night at a meeting of the Kentucky Thoroughbred Farm Managers Club here.

Avioli gave no further details on the strategic planning committee's work. Satish Sanan, owner of Padua Stables, heads up the committee, which is devising a five-year strategic plan. It will make its presentation to the Breeders' Cup board in July, Avioli said.

Avioli noted that creating a racing series to keep fans focused on racing between the Triple Crown season in the summer and the Breeders' Cup in the fall is a complex issue, adding that "no one has come up with the silver bullet yet."

Avioli also revealed two new developments. The Breeders' Cup has reached an agreement with ESPN under which the cable sports network will showcase Breeders' Cup during halftime of major weekend college football games in the two weeks leading up to the 2009 event at Santa Anita. The Breeders' Cup also has established a fan advisory group consisting of 20 people drawn from lists submitted by tracks.

The Breeders' Cup also remains focused on increasing international competition, Avioli said. Between 2005 and 2008, the number of international competitors increased from 20 runners representing four nations to 31 horses from nine nations.