03/16/2016 1:16PM

Kirchner not retained by Breeders' Cup


Ken Kirchner, a racing consultant, will not be retained for his simulcasting and wagering services by the Breeders’ Cup this year, ending a 20-year relationship, Kirchner confirmed on Wednesday.

Kirchner was told by Breeders’ Cup officials that simulcasting and wagering duties for the Breeders’ Cup beginning this year will be handled by existing personnel at the company and at the host tracks for the event “for budgetary reasons,” Kirchner said. Breeders’ Cup personnel also will administer the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge, a live-money tournament held in conjunction with the two-day event that Kirchner has organized since its launch in 2009, he said.

A Breeders’ Cup spokesman, Jim Gluckson, said the company would have no comment.

Kirchner was first hired by the Breeders’ Cup in 1996 as a consultant. He was later brought on board as a full-time employee when the Breeders’ Cup merged with the National Thoroughbred Racing Association in 2002. After the BC-NTRA partnership was dissolved in 2007, Kirchner was again hired as a consultant to manage the company’s simulcasting duties, which included contractual services with simulcasting outlets worldwide and managing the wagering for the event.

“As a consultant, I know the risks are always there,” Kirchner said. “I have no regrets. For 20 years, I had front-row seats to the two best racing and wagering days in the world, and I’m proud of what we were able to accomplish together.”

Kirchner is employed by Daily Racing Form on a contractual basis as manager of tournament operations for DRF’s handicapping tournaments.

Kirchner cited handle growth on the two-day event among his achievements. In 1996, his first year coordinating the company’s simulcasting, handle on seven Breeders’ Cup races, held on one day at Woodbine outside of Toronto, was $60 million; last year, handle on 13 races held over two days at Keeneland was $156 million. Kirchner also cited his involvement in expanding the reach of the Breeders’ Cup signal to 30 countries, along with putting together the first overseas commingled pool on a racing event in 1997, when France’s PMU system sent bets into the U.S.-based Breeders’ Cup pools.

Kirchner also said he was proud to have put a pick four on the Breeders’ Cup wagering menu in 2000 “to augment” the existing pick six. The pick four, which was a little-used wager type at the time, now annually attracts the largest amount of handle for any linked bet on the Breeders’ Cup cards, and it has grown into a popular bet at racetracks nationwide.

Although Kirchner aggressively cultivated overseas simulcasting contacts, international handle on the Breeders’ Cup did not grow at rates that many Breeders’ Cup board members thought possible. Ten years ago, some Breeders’ Cup officials said they envisioned eventually attracting $100 million in international handle on the event, but those aspirations proved to be wishful thinking in the face of logistical, cultural, and territorial hurdles.

If the Breeders’ Cup intends to ask host tracks to perform some of Kirchner’s duties, the simulcasting departments at the tracks likely will be asked to perform the contractual services for the Breeders’ Cup signal. Those contracts are negotiated in the fall of every year, even if the terms of the contracts do not differ much from year to year. The Breeders’ Cup currently receives 50 percent of the wagering revenue from its signal, with the simulcast outlets retaining the other 50 percent.

The Breeders’ Cup this year will be held at Santa Anita in Southern California and then at Del Mar near San Diego in 2017.