11/09/2012 6:48PM

Letters to the Editor Nov. 11

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BC officials fail to follow through on best intent

We racehorse owners and breeders are also huge fans. Most fans agree the competition on Breeders' Cup Day trumps all other days. Unfortunately, those who are supposed to be managing the championship day for our industry are not enhancing the power and prestige of the Breeders' Cup.

Breeder's Cup officials are thorough - at some things. Every year without fail every breeder of Thoroughbreds gets a nice packet from the organization. It is full of glossy papers explaining why it is essential for us to pay the hefty nominating fees on all of our foals for the championship race day. What the packets don't say is too often the year-end Eclipse Awards go to owners of horses who skip the Breeders' Cup event. Many breeders deeply resent not having a vote on Eclipse Awards after paying for the championship day with our nominating fees.

This year our championship day was again marred by inexcusable decision-making at the highest level. The television broadcast rights to all the races on Saturday were sold to NBC. Then the first championship race of the day, the Juvenile Turf, was completely omitted from national coverage. Amazingly, the day-in day-out promoting mainstay that does the heavy lifting for our sport, TVG, was excluded from being allowed to show the first championship race even after it was tossed aside by NBC like an old shoe.

It gets worse. When the time came for fans to watch the phenomenal racing filly Groupie Doll, in the Filly and Mare Sprint, NBC's sports channel was too busy to show her dazzling performance. Why? Because it was honoring another commitment. Their priority was - get this - the Delaware vs. Towson State football game, which was running long. Again, TVG was not allowed to show this hugely important race live. Amazingly, NBC also couldn't be bothered to run a ticker at the bottom of the screen (as ESPN does) and redirect viewers to one of its many sister channels for Groupie Doll's race. The owners and breeders of Groupie Doll and especially millions of racing fans deserved far better.

Racing needs a national commissioner. Someone must be empowered by all of us to make sure that what is best for our sport always comes first. There is no telling what will happen during next year's championships. Let's just hope we don't miss a big race involving one of our great stars because the NCAA Division II rowing championship is running long on the winning bidder's network. I'm not sure I could take that.

Jim Spence - Las Cruces, N.M.

I'll Have Another deserves top honor

I'll Have Another is the Horse of the Year. His 2012 campaign earned him more money in just four starts than Wise Dan accumulated in six starts because he ran in the classic races at the classic distances. Undefeated in 2012 -none of the other candidates is -- with wins in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness plus the Santa Anita Derby and Robert B. Lewis Stakes.

Without his untimely injury, I'll Have Another was bound to sewn up the Triple Crown with a win in the Belmont Stakes. If I'll Have Another did not suffer his career-ending injury he would not have bypassed the BC classic as most of the other major contenders did.  He is the only major Horse of the Year contender that has won at the classic distance of 1 1/4 miles in 2012.

Frankel, Royal Delta, and Wise Dan could have all sewn up horse of the year with a BC Classic win, but they all took the easy way and now they want the big prize. Game On Dude would have been a deserving Horse of the Year candidate, but his BC Classic loss sealed his 2012 fate.

The Horse of the Year should be earned on the racetrack by competing against the best in the classic races at the classic distances. Under these criteria I'll Have Another is the clear-cut winner. If you were an owner, which three Grade 1 races would you rather win on the year: the Santa Anita Derby, Kentucky Derby, and Preakness Stakes, or the Woodbine Mile, Shadwell Turf Mile, and BC Mile?

One more thing: When Zenyatta was named Horse of the Year for 2010, one of her selling points was who did the most for horse racing. Apply that same measuring stick to this year's voting and it is clearly I'll Have Another.

Richard Murray  - North Hills, Calif.

Cup cameras gave poor picture

I watched the NBC telecasts of the Breeders' Cup and was furious. I am sick of these championship races being ruined as the networks experiment with all these crazy camera angles. NBC's primary angles for most races made it impossible to follow all the horses.
Races need to be shown on a standard, traditional pan shot -- period, end of discussion.

If they want to show you all the high-tech, overhead cameras and so forth on the replays, that's perfectly fine and admittedly kind of cool and different. The live race itself, however, needs to be shown so you can best follow the entire field, not just the first few lead horses. This is not a new problem either.

Jeff Richardson - Lincoln, Neb.

Cover2 More than 1 year ago
I forgot the BC Classic, what was that $75 million net guaranteed to the winner ?
Cover2 More than 1 year ago
How many 1&1/4 miles dirt races are there for older, for 3 million ? It was good that R Murray didn't leave out that Bob Lewis race, how could IHA win HoY without it ?
JoyJackson21 More than 1 year ago
The argument against I'll Have Another not being worthy enough to win the Horse of the Year Eclipse Award because he only defeated three year olds is totally MOOT because Point Given won Horse of the Year honors for the Eclipse Award in 2001. Remember Point Given???? He won HOY honors in 2001, and POINT GIVEN RAN ONLY AGAINST 3 YEAR OLDS in 2001. Period. He also came in a disappointing 5th in the Kentucky Derby that year, and STILL managed to win the HOY Eclipse Award. IHA's record stands up quite nicely against Point Given's record, plus IHA has the Kentucky Derby in his list of accomplishments, Point Given did not. In most journalist's estimations this year, especially before the completion of the Belmont Stakes, 2012's group of three year olds was considered one of the finest and most sterling in many, many years. And for those who wish to argue that point, I have dozens of links to articles which say so in many, many sports journalism publications to prove my case in regard to that claim. I'll Have Another has a proud, distinguised record to recommend himself with which to win 2012's Horse of the Year honors.
JoyJackson21 More than 1 year ago
Nick, the only one doing or saying anything ignorant here is you.
JoyJackson21 More than 1 year ago
And Wise Dan did not win the BC Classic, either. Fort Larned did. He's still a candidate for Horse of the Year, too. By your very own theory, Fort Larned, by right, should win Horse of the Year because of who he beat in the BC Classic. Just saying.
JoyJackson21 More than 1 year ago
And, just to clarify for those who are definitely missing the point, I'll Have Another won all of his races at CLASSIC lengths. He wasn't a sprinter or a miler or a turf horse. He won on dirt and won at CLASSIC lengths, which is the race lengths a huge majority of formers Horse of the Year winners specialized in. They weren't milers. They weren't turf horses. They ran primarily on DIRT at CLASSIC lengths. So did IHA, and spectacularly so. That alone places him ahead of other horses in the Horse of the Year running who are specialists on turf or poly, or who run at much shorter distances.
Nick More than 1 year ago
I'll Have Another ONLY BEAT 3 YEAR OLDS.........ARE YOU THAT IGNORNANT......I'm sure if Game on Dude won the Classic you would have said the same thing..WISE DAN didn't just win...he destroyed them.....How many Derby winners have won the Classic?
JoyJackson21 More than 1 year ago
Read the above posts. Your answers to your posts are contained in them.
JoyJackson21 More than 1 year ago
I'll Have Another is absolutely Horse of the Year. He won at Classic lengths, four straight races, three of which were Grade 1 races, would have most likely have won the Triple Crown if not for his injury one day before the Belmont. He could win on dirt as well as polytrack, and, most importantly, won two of the most important races in the ENTIRE world. Everyone would agree that owners would give their eye teeth to win the Kentucky Derby - it is the one race in American racing that EVERYONE points their horse toward winning and is the one of Top 3 most prestigeous races in the world. It's not Breeders' Cup races despite the high amounts of money paid for those races. In order of prestige across the world, it is the Kentucky Derby that is the most coveted and the most recognized the world over. One other point - in other stakes races, owners duck and hide their horses from competing against horses they feel will give their champion horse a real run for their money. People do not duck and hide from the Kentucky Derby. In fact, they do level best to make sure their horse is able to prove their merit in that race. Owners ducking and hiding diminish their horses' legacies doing those tactics because the first question is always why didn't this horse or that horse run against this other horse who is undoubtedly considered the "best" for one reason or another. There's no ducking and hiding in the Triple Crown races. Competition against the best in that division is encouraged and coveted. Just saying.
robert bertz More than 1 year ago
Joy, The arguement I have is, I'll have another's races where only against 3 year olds. And I actually have no problem with Him being named horse of the year. I actually have no opinion on who should win that honor. Your aguement about the Derby is (in my opinon)wrong. The horses entered in the Derby has been by money won. Many of these horses won that money as 2 year olds or on synthetics and do not belong in the race. The only reason they are there is because of the owners ego. Heck, if I owned a horse eligible I would love to take the walk. If I had a vote it would be for Jim Rome's horse who won the BC Turf Sprint. I had her singled on both pick 6 tickets. Shows You where I am coming from. Just kidding.
JoyJackson21 More than 1 year ago
Robert, I appreciate your point of view, and I thank you for giving it in a respectful manner. That is definitely appreciated. I have a point that might influence your thoughts in this matter of 2012's HOY competition: Point Given won HOY honors in 2001 - and he ran ONLY against three year olds, totally destroying the theory that it doesn't count if you only win against three year olds and not older horses. It is not necessary to run against older horses to be considered HOY material. Past history/Point Given has already proven that.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is inexcusable not to have the pan shot during the race, at the time of the race. For anyone who bets and is tracking their choice or choices the changing camera angles eliminates this. You cannot get a since of pace. Afterwards you have little idea whether you had a chance or even if your horse ran 3rd or better. I agree with the beauty of the other shots a commentor made below. But that should be done second in a replay. When people bet money they want to ride with it. You cannot do that except with the pan shot. When I am too sick to get out for Day 2 breeders cup I listen to the race call only. Because if I watch the camera shots from the moon and from the grass line I am too busy swearing at the TV. These various camera shots are just good jobs at good wages for producers and camarament. But pleae run your beauty show after the the live race is official. Yes jeff this has been a problem for a very long time. Harvey Pack wrote about and the editor at drf has printed my letters on it. Thanks for writing in about it. I think we can satisfy both types of fans. Ray Davis BTR
W.G. More than 1 year ago
Mr. Spence fails to realize in his letter that Comcast (parent of NBC) was contractually committed to airing the Towson-Delaware game to its conclusion. Had it cut away from that, it would have been considered a violation of their contract that could have had them liable for lawsuits. While I understand the frustration, the fact is this happens all the time with sports, when on some occasions even the most marquee events that many want to see get joined in progress. It is not that NBC wanted to stick it to horse racing, they had a contractual commitment to air the game to conclusion, which is the norm in sports.
Mike More than 1 year ago
I couldn't disagree more with the last writer (sorry, no "end of discussion" by your "fiat). As a relatively new fan of horse racing, I am constantly appalled when I watch the standard pan shot of a horse race. It almost completely eviscerates the beauty and power and speed of horse racing and presents the sport in the most uninteresting way possible, using the same technological imagination that was available in the 1950s. (Can you imagine watching an NFL football game shot with the same camera angles they were using 50 years ago?) Horse racing is a sport in desperate need of new fans; we should applaud TV coverage that presents a horse race in all its visual glory, especially on the few occasions that a casual sports fan (like I used to be) might be watching. Why turn that fan off with a camera shot that presents the sport in the most dull and unimagninative fashion?
W.G. More than 1 year ago
Mike: The problem is the day-to-day horseplayer in many cases is used to the standard pan shot. I happen to like the shots NBC used on the BC races (and before that, ESPN did, especially the blimp shots that actually made it easier to see where your horse was), but most horseplayers will never understand that most more casual sports fans were brought up in a different environment from the way day-to-day horseplayers were.