11/02/2011 2:10PM

No Breeders' Cup simulcast in Hong Kong

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The Breeders’ Cup’s Friday and Saturday cards will once again be available this year to customers of Betfair, the British bet-matching operation, but none of the event’s 15 races will be simulcast in Hong Kong, according to the organization’s simulcasting consultant.

Breeders’ Cup first reached an agreement with Betfair on its races in 2009. Under the agreement, Betfair compensates Breeders’ Cup for allowing bet-matching on its races, and Breeders’ Cup allows the company’s customers to bet into the races’ commingled pools. Bet-matching on Betfair is limited to straight betting, whereas the commingled pools provide exotic-wagering opportunities.

Last year, Betfair customers made $23 million in matched bets on Breeders’ Cup races, according to Ken Kirchner, Breeders’ Cup’s simulcasting consultant.

Over the past 10 years, Breeders’ Cup has pursued agreements with countries across the world to expand the reach of the event. Those efforts have resulted in steady gains in the amount of handle on its races from international sources.

Those efforts suffered a minor setback this year with the withdrawal of Hong Kong, one of the most lucrative betting jurisdictions in the world, where average handle per race tops the $100 million mark. Last year, the Hong Kong Jockey Club offered simulcasts of six Breeders’ Cup races, drawing $4.9 million in separate-pool wagering, but the organization could not come to terms with the Breeders’ Cup this year, according to Kirchner. Because of import restrictions, the HKJC is limited to the importation of 12 simulcast races a year.

During the past month, Breeders’ Cup has been targeting France in its international promotions, relying in part on the French-bred filly Goldikova’s attempt to win her fourth consecutive Breeders’ Cup Mile, Kirchner said. France has been one of the strongest international parimutuel markets for Breeders’ Cup, and last year the country’s bettors wagered $5.5 million into the commingled pools.

Kirchner said he’s crossing his fingers that a forecast of sunny skies holds up for the Friday and Saturday cards, and that French horseplayers “stay up a little later” to catch Goldikova’s race, which was moved to the second-to-last Breeders’ Cup race on Saturday, just prior to the Classic.

“If we get good weather, if we stay fast and firm, with the fields we’re offering, I think the bettors are going to show up,” Kirchner said.

Last year, total betting on the event’s 14 races, not including matched bets, was $173 million, up 12.8 percent from 2009.