Power Cap

Power cap- existential handicapping

18 December 2009

Breeders' Cup Headed Towards Folly?

The Breeders' Cup released a round of strategic planning initiatives that seem to be based in questionable logic. These guys are are promising more change than the laundromat where Obama used to wash his college duds. If not timely or based in reason change can be foolish. The Breeders' Cup has undergone massive changes over the last few years. Now it looks like a plan has been hatched that will foolishly squander the appeal the Breeders' Cup held over the public.

Parking the Breeders' Cup at one location is an idea that I have a problem with. They might have missed these problems due to the "group think factor" of the board meeting. One of the broad appeals of the Breeders' Cup was that it was a world class event like the Olympics, The World Cup or the Super Bowl. These world class events travel around and the variety of locations provide these events a national or global home market. The Breeders' Cup benefited from a national home market. The memories of watching the Breeders' Cup at your home track resonated over the years and the Breeders' Cup built this relationship with fans from coast to coast. By parking the event at Santa Anita or Churchill they are going to lose the broad appeal factor. One of the charter goals -promoting the game to a broad audience-of the Breeders' Cup will be ignored. Churchill is a difficult/expensive place to fly to unless you are a box shipped on UPS- it costs more for me to fly to Louisville than to LAX from New York. Santa Anita is a beautiful facility with consistently great weather but it has a surface that is foreign to most American dirt horses. By moving the event around the drawbacks of each venue are mitigated. From the fans perspective parking the Breeders' Cup at one location makes a world class event depreciate into a provincial event.

It seems that the Breeders' Cup is dealing with revenue issues. There are going to be less foals in this corrected economy and thus less revenue for the B.C. This is unfortunate timing for the B.C. as the program has expanded to fourteen races over two days. This epic two day event featuring over ten hours of horse racing had grown a little too large to be consumed whole like the old seven or eight race format. A group supposedly tuning its marketing to short attention span twitter-ers should realize that anything over 140 characters or 4 hours is too much. When your revenue is not sufficient to finance your two day whopper of an event it is time to swallow the pride and cut it back to one day. For example I flew out to Santa Anita from New York this year for the Breeders' Cup program, but I spent Friday on the beach. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. The signs are there but Breeders' Cup and their hired consultants seem to be ignoring them and stubbornly managing around a plan based in folly.

The emperor has been naked for two years now; it is time someone finally outed this "Win and you are in" marketing as a waste of time. Now it seems they want to expand this ludicrous concept to more races and more countries. When has the winner of a Grade I like the Whitney -or any GI race- ever been excluded from the Breeders' Cup? What about the sprint this year? Did the "win and you're in" series help bolster that field? The intention to help make a complex game easier for casual fans to comprehend is an appropriate marketing goal. However the "win and you're in program" fails on every level. The whole program is absolute humbug to the core. How confusing is it when a horse like Fernelly won the "win and you're in" Del Mar mile but after the race he wasn't really in because he was not nominated? This whole effort is just a waste of time and does nothing for anyone. Hopefully the "Breeders' Cup Racing Series in partnership with North American and European racetracks" is a departure from the "win and you're in" concept, but I fear the emperors extended family will join him in his absurd garb.

The other goal expressed in their initiative is "social and digital media". Social media has become the marketing solution de jour because it is cheap, easy and everyone else is doing it. When everyone is doing something in a massive "little me too" copycat session the cumulative negative effects accumulate quickly, like leaves in a catch basin. Unfortunately because of over exposure social media has become well beyond cliche. The marketing returns that people are so anxiously awaiting- returns that are just a quarter away will never happen. Myspace is dead, facebook is a bore and twitter is the largest jumble of drivel ever assembled in the history of the written word. While it may be compulsory for a entertainment medium to have a presence on these social media outlets- it may be wise to temper the expectations as these fads wind down.

Someone at the Breeders' Cup needs to take charge. The wandering ideas of group think and foreign consultants have threatened to ruin a very good thing. The Breeders' Cup did so many things right- in their rush for change they seem to be dropping the good and picking up many short sighted marketing ideas. Like so many corporate types the "little me too" factor dominates new initiatives. Unfortunately the real factors are being ignored. My advice would be to keep the rotation of tracks, right size the event back down to one day and ten races to match declining foal nominations. If they really want people to become fans of racing they have a very good game to work with. Why beat around the bush with foolish marketing concepts? Make the game an even more attractive concept by lowering takeout and showing the world just how exciting this game can be. Once they win they are in.


Steve Munday said...

I agree 100% w/ everything you said. What the BC needs is a selection of great championship caliber horse races - especially great betting races. I'm fairly certain few people care about artifices like "win and you're in."

I wish I spent Ladies Day (or whatever it's called) on the beach - good decision.

G. C. said...

The ten race B.C. program should be:

B.C. Classic

B.C. Ladies Classic

B.C. Turf

B.C. Mile

B.C. FM Turf


B.C. JV Fillies

B.C. Sprint

B.C. JV Turf

B.C. JV Filly Turf

I believe this to be the perfect ten as it appeals to all. It also eliminates the four races that dilute the others. The dirt mile became the junior varsity for the classic while the marathon became the consolation race for horses not quite good enough for the turf. These new races weakened the stalwart races by annexing entries.

By leaving the JV turf races the B.C. can appease the breeders who are the Breeders' Cup primary patrons. Also the JV turf races appeal to the Europeans who the B.C. need to court to maintain the international nominations. These are the right ten races to keep. Drop the marathon, the dirt mile, the FM sprint and the turf sprint. Those four races did nothing but undermine the old races and extended an already whopper of a program into a two day behemoth.