07/15/2004 12:00AM

No Cup future bet this year


Breeders' Cup has shelved plans to offer parimutuel future wagering on its races this year, citing an inability to offer fans more than 24 horses in each race and poor handle in previous years.

Ken Kirchner, director of simulcasting for Breeders' Cup, said that the future bets, which Breeders' Cup has offered the past two years, should not be considered permanently dead. But he said that without the ability to offer racing fans 75 to 100 horses in each race, prices for horses were unattractive compared with the odds that can be offered in traditional race books like those in Las Vegas, where many casinos book future bets.

"We were having a hard time getting people to get excited about the prices with just 24 horses," Kirchner said. "You look at a Bally's, where they put 100 horses up and really offer a range of prices, and we just couldn't do that. It makes a big difference."

Bet-processing companies have claimed that it is technologically impossible to offer more than 24 runners in a race.

Breeders' Cup first offered parimutuel future betting in 2002, offering three races on four different weekends. The bets were modified in 2003 in an attempt to produce more betting by staging four races over three weekends, but the results were the same: $530,541 was bet in 12 pools in 2002, and $555,814 was bet in 2003.

The future bets were launched after Churchill Downs Inc. had demonstrated that parimutuel future betting could be successful. Churchill started offering three separate parimutuel future pools on the Kentucky Derby in 2000, and the company has said the bet has been a major financial and promotional success.

The Breeders' Cup future bets had other problems. Breeders' Cup officials complained in both years that racetracks failed to dedicate racing monitors to broadcast updated odds in the pools. Kirchner also said that with marketing, simulcast-uplink, and totalizator costs included, the bets failed to break even in either of the two years that they were offered.