The Rise and Fall of the Breeders Cup

One thing this year’s World Cup program did was to deliver on its billing as the World Cup. The vision and deep pockets of the Maktoums have made global racing a reality that is now thriving and ironically it thrived this year at the expense of Godolphin who for the first year in my memory was unable to win an important race on the World Cup card. Kelly’s Landing and Spring At Last confirmed what everyone already knows. That when it comes to speed and shorter distances North American horses are the best. But in races like the Duty Free and Sheema Classic, North American runners like Lava Man, English Channel and Miesque's Approval confirmed that North America’s turf division is weak at best and unable to compete globally with the likes of horses from Japan and Hong Kong. Victories by Admire Moon and Vengeance of Rain confirmed that Japan and now Hong Kong are real players on the world stage and that victories last year by Utopia and Heart’s Cry were just the beginning of this Asian juggernaut. The outstanding performances of both Admire Moon and Daiwa Major reflected very well on Deep Impact and confirmed, after the fact, what an outstanding racehorse he was. Taking that line of reasoning even further one can only conclude that on the turf Rail Link, who was the missing from the World Cup card, along with Invasor must be the other best equine on the planet.

This World Cup program signaled the end of the Breeders Cup as the preeminent championships in my mind, what we saw at Nad Al Sheba was truly a world thoroughbred championship with horses from all over the world in attendance. Unlike the other so called World Thoroughbred Championship, the Breeders Cup which normally attracts only the best from North America and Europe. Those horses were proven not to be the best in the world on Saturday night. The recent spat of injuries, fatal and otherwise, at the Breeders Cup have done much to stain the series in my mind. The development of Meydan along with a World Cup purse of $10 million dollars in two years or so means that we are seeing the center of gravity in racing shift, more than slightly, from the United States, Great Britain and France to the Middle East.

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