SBJ/March 19-25, 2012/Events and Attractions

Breeders’ NY pitch must clear obstacles

As efforts to bring the Breeders’ Cup to New York for the first time since 2005 continue, two off-track obstacles are among the issues organizers are discussing: New York City’s annual marathon and daylight saving time.

Breeders’ Cup organizers and the New York Racing Association have been negotiating exclusively for at least six months about holding next year’s annual two-day event in New York. NYRA President and CEO Charles Hayward said he remains hopeful that issues can be resolved and that the Breeders’ Cup could be held at Belmont Park in 2013 but added, “It really is premature to comment at this point.”

Breeders’ Cup President and CEO Craig Fravel, in a statement to SportsBusiness Journal, said, “We have been in discussions with NYRA on several occasions about potential future hosting opportunities. Beyond that, it is our policy not to comment on those discussions or discussions with any other potential host venues until the process is completed.”

Fravel in October told SportsBusiness Journal: “We are in the process of negotiating with New York for 2013 and we are hopeful that is where it will end up.”

When the Breeders’ Cup in August announced that the 2012 event would be held at Santa Anita Park, putting it in the Los Angeles area for the third time in five years, there was an uproar in the New York horse racing community. Horse racing fans, owners and trainers there said it should be a rotating event and New York was not getting a fair shake. New York, Southern California and Kentucky are the three hubs of horse racing in the United States.

Among the outstanding issues, scheduling the event for the first weekend in November, when the Breeders’ Cup has been held for the last several years, would coincide with the traditional timing of the New York City Marathon, which like the Breeders’ Cup draws visitors from around the world.

“What we don’t want to do is have them come to New York when the best hotels and the best restaurants are not available,” Hayward said.

The last time the Breeders’ Cup was in New York, it was held the last week of October, but some of the major prep races for the 2013 Breeders’ Cup have already been scheduled, so if the Cup date were to be moved up, those races may also have to be moved, Hayward said.

Additionally, there is a problem of hosting the event after daylight saving time ends, as Belmont Park is not equipped with lights for night racing. Not only would Belmont have to equip the racing surface with lights, it also would have to install lights in the box seating area.

Daylight saving time ends the first weekend of November.

Hayward said talks with Breeders’ Cup officials have been “cordial” and “productive” and that the two parties will continue to work to resolve the issues in hopes of having a decision made by sometime in June.

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