12/14/2007 1:00AM

Three new BC races? Bring 'em on

EmailNEW YORK - If you didn't like the three new Friday Breeders' Cup races this year, you probably don't like the additional three that last week were added to next year's lineup. Personally, I'm looking forward to the Friday, Oct. 24, 2008 Santa Anita pick six consisting of the year-old BC Juvenile Turf, BC Filly Sprint, and BC Mile and the new BC Juvenile Fillies Turf, BC Turf Sprint, and BC Marathon. Sounds like a tough ticket but a lot of fun.

Yet the dominant reaction seems to be that this sextet is a dark development for American racing that in some way dilutes or detracts from the "real" Breeders' Cup the next afternoon. That will be the case only if the Breeders' Cup makes one of two mistakes with these new races going forward: attempts to brand them as global championships, or lobbies for a raft of new Eclipse Awards to make actual champions out of the leaders of secondary divisions in the sport.

The event's organizers changed its name from Breeders' Cup to "Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships" several years ago at the suggestion of a short-lived consultant's belief that a fraudulent five-word, 11-syllable name was more marketable than a two-word, three-syllable one (like Stanley Cup, World Series, or Super Bowl) - although at least they have since dropped "Thoroughbred" from the title. The Breeders' Cup decides most of American racing's titles but nobody else's, and is not going to start doing so any time soon, especially in the face of ever-richer year-end racing festivals in Hong Kong and Japan.

The unwieldy and unjustified extended name should be quietly dropped in general, and certainly never raised in connection with the new races. They are interesting little events for specialists outside the mainstream, and no one would have the slightest objection to Friday's Turf Sprint or Marathon if they were named for landmarks or famous horses. Before anyone gets too agitated that the words "Breeders' Cup" are in their names, remember that those two words appeared in the names of literally hundreds of Gradeo3 races over the last 20 years in exchange for purse supplements under the old "special stakes" program.

Just because we can define divisions in which it would be entertaining to have a rich race toward the end of the year doesn't mean that those divisions merit an Eclipse Award. If a year comes along when some 2-year-old grass filly is so spectacular that she seems more worthy of a title than her dirt contemporaries, voters are free to choose her as the champion 2-year-old filly, but there's no need for a separate grass award.

It's similarly unlikely that the winner of the inaugural, somewhat misnamed Breeders' Cup Marathon will be anything close to a legitimate champion. The winner of the 1 1/4-mile Classic is sure to be a better horse, probably capable of beating the Marathon winner at 1 1/2 miles, and there will probably be dozens of grass horses around the world who are better. It may well go to some aged wonder (is it too soon to start rooting for Evening Attire?) who can't win beyond the Grade 3 level anymore. So let's not even think about calling it a World Thoroughbred Championship.

Having said that, the race is an intriguing one and has the potential to create a novel circuit of long-distance dirt racing. Several tracks are carding 1 1/2-mile dirt preps leading up to it. One of them is actually an old standby: the once-proud Brooklyn Handicap, which is being moved from September to June and extended from 1 1/8 miles to 1 1/2 miles next year.

The Brooklyn was otherwise probably slated for extinction, joining an ever-growing list of once well-known New York fixtures that are disappearing from the sport, such as the Cowdin, Astarita, and Lawrence Realization in recent years and, most recently, the Bowling Green.

All of these races have been discontinued for the same reason: to allow more time between other races in the same divisions, because horses simply can't and don't run as often as they once did. This phenomenon is directly related to the low premium the breeding industry places on stamina and durability as opposed to speed and precociousness.

One new Breeders' Cup race at 1o1/2 miles is hardly going to reverse the distance and soundness limitations of the modern American racehorse, but it's a start and a step in the right direction.