Early post, weather hurt Breeders' handle


Breeders' Cup XII didn't set any records, either in handle or attendance, although the races themselves turned out to be superb.

Total wagering on the seven Breeders' Cup Championship races last weekend at Belmont Park was $64,075,209, fifth highest in the series' 12-year history.

But the figure, down about $15 million from the record $79,744,742 set at Santa Anita Park in 1993, was not unanticipated.

"We had to expect some reduction in the numbers," said D. G. Van Clief Jr., the Breeders' Cup executive director. "Because of the early post time, the first race went off at 8:55 a.m. on the West Coast and that had to impact our handle. Add to that the weather conditions and the figures flattened out."

NBC, which telecast the races, insisted on the early post -- the first race went off at 11:55 a.m. in the East -- because of the Notre Dame-Boston College football game that the network televised later in the afternoon. In previous Breeders' Cups, the first race has gone off at about 1:20 p.m. in the East.

Of the total of $64 million wagered, $56,484,875 was bet at 756 simulcast and off-track betting locations around the country.

At Belmont itself, approximately $7 million was bet on the card, the second highest in track history, although the attendance of 37,246 was the lowest of any Breeders' Cup.

Van Clief said: "If we had had good weather, I think we would have had 45,000 people at Belmont and that would have been considered a victory. But the stormy weather in early morning was terrible and the forecast even worse, although by mid-morning conditions were less threatening. Under those circumstances, I think it was a good performance."

Next year's Breeders' Cup will be held for the first time in Canada, at Woodbine Race Course in Toronto. Van Clief said that, "We should know by Jan. 1 where in Southern California the 1997 races will be held." All three major tracks -- Del Mar, Santa Anita and Hollywood Parks -- are under consideration.

It's likely that the 1998 Breeders' Cup will be held at Churchill Downs in Kentucky.

"The next wide-open year is 1999," Van Clief said. At that point, the series could return to New York or possibly go to a South Florida track.

Van Clief said that a three-year rotation policy that would move the Breeders' Cup between Southern California, Kentucky and New York tracks has not been set.

Duel in Dubai?

Breeders' Cup Classic winner Cigar could face Turf runner-up Freedom Cry March 27 in the inaugural running of the $4 million Dubai World Cup.

Andre Fabre, trainer of Freedom Cry, said he will not give his horse a prep before the race, but will send him to the Middle East from France "in plenty of time for him to acclimate.

"I have no particular worries about him racing on dirt," Fabre added. "The track there is not exactly dirt; it is more sand."

The race will be held at the Nad Al Sheba course, which was JTC founded just a couple of years ago by racing-crazed Arab sheiks, who have large thoroughbred strings based in Europe and in the United States.

Cigar is scheduled to have a prep race in Florida about 30 days before being sent to Dubai.

Hollywood for Da Hoss

Even though Maryland-based Da Hoss finished last in the Breeders' Cup Sprint -- the first time the horse has not been first or second in 12 career starts -- he is on schedule to run next in the Nov. 26 Hollywood Derby at Hollywood Park.

Michael Dickinson, who bases the 3-year-old colt at the Fair Hill Training Center near Elkton, said that he told jockey Jerry Bailey: "If the horse doesn't act on the track [sloppy going], then bring me home a sound horse, and he did."

Da Hoss, Dickinson added, is "fit, well and healthy" and will leave for California about a week before the race.

Chris McCarron or Rene Douglas will get the mount.

'Prospect' in Fair Star

Secret Prospect, the New Jersey-based 2-year-old filly who finished second to Mystic Rhythms in the Maryland Million Lassie, is on the grounds at Laurel Park and will race Tuesday in the $35,000-added Fair Star Stakes.

Trainer John Tammaro III said the daughter of Allen's Prospect will be ridden by Carlos Marquez.

Tammaro has 18 horses at The Meadowlands and plans to ship them to Laurel next month at the conclusion of that meet.

De Francis/Stansley deal

Laurel/Pimlico operator Joe De Francis and Virginia track developer Arnold Stansley, who have been feuding over the details of an agreement that creates a Maryland-Virginia racing circuit at Stansley's proposed Colonial Downs racetrack near Richmond, met at Laurel on Friday and are close to approving a contract that gives managerial control of the thoroughbred meet at the facility to De Francis.

De Francis told reporters that an agreement between the two will be signed by the next Virginia Racing Commission meeting, on Nov. 15.

Petition on breeding

Wayne and Susie Chatfield-Taylor, who operate the 375-acre Morgan's Ford Farm in Front Royal, Va., are disputing the listing of prominent Maryland owner Phil Capuano as the breeder of Breeders' Cup Juvenile starter Secreto de Estado.

The Chatfield-Taylors claim that since the colt was six days old when he was purchased from them by Capuano as a foal, along with his dam, Marchpane, at a Timonium auction, they should be listed as the rightful breeders of the horse.

They are petitioning the Jockey Club to make a change on the horse's foal papers.

Secreto de Estado finished 11th in the 13-horse Juvenile field, beaten about 22 lengths by the winner, Unbridled's Song, but is likely to be nominated to the 1996 Triple Crown by current owner Bob Perez.

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