10/05/2011 4:56PM

Breeders' Cup to permit simulcast bets at Churchill

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Simulcast signals will be offered for the first time at the host site of the Breeders’ Cup this year under a plan to coordinate the post times for the event on Nov. 4-5 at Churchill Downs with live race cards at Santa Anita and Aqueduct, according to racing officials.

The plan would provide attendees of the Breeders’ Cup with a limited menu of additional betting opportunities for the first time and give bettors nationwide a consistent schedule of product from three tracks during both the Friday and Saturday Breeders’ Cup cards. Now in its 28th year, the Breeders’ Cup has previously prohibited host tracks from offering any other betting than on the live races on the card.

The proposal will also reward Santa Anita and the New York Racing Association, the operator of Aqueduct, with exclusive access to Churchill’s bettors. Santa Anita and NYRA, which also operates Belmont, have perennially lobbied to host the Breeders’ Cup event, with Santa Anita slated for the 2012 Breeders’ Cup and Belmont the favorite for the 2013 site.

Ken Kirchner, the Breeders’ Cup’s simulcasting consultant, said that Breeders’ Cup wants one of the two tracks to run its races approximately 15 minutes after a Breeders’ Cup race, with the other track running a race approximately 10 minutes after that. Breeders’ Cup currently allows for 40 minutes between its races.

“We think if we can find a way to work in the major tracks between our races it will be a benefit to everyone,” Kirchner said. “That type of coordination could be a big plus. That’s the impetus.”

Liz Bracken, NYRA’s simulcasting coordinator, said that the association planned to offer eight-race cards on both Nov. 4 and 5 at Aqueduct, with its races scheduled for approximately 14 minutes after each Breeders’ Cup race. Aqueduct would normally offer nine or 10 races on each of those days.

“They’re going to have huge crowds at Churchill for both days, and we think this is going to help us out tremendously,” Bracken said.

Rick Hammerle, a Santa Anita official, said Santa Anita anticipates participating in the coordination but that its race schedule for both days has not yet been set.

“We’re going to do what fits in and what’s good for everybody,” Hammerle said.

Under its simulcasting contracts with non-host sites, racetracks are prohibited from running a live race within 12 minutes of any Breeders’ Cup race. The provision has largely served to isolate Breeders’ Cup races on the simulcast menu in an effort to focus betting dollars on the Breeders’ Cup’s product.