Tuesday, November 3, 2009

CR Dunbar: Crazy Eyes in California

We are in the thicket of a chaotic sport season that could make Stuart Scott's eye go straight. To add to the discombobulation, the biggest two days of the horse racing season commence this weekend.

The Breeders' Cup is the championship series for the horse racing set. It is an opportunity for horses, trainers, owners, jockeys and bettors to make a season.

Before we delve into our annual analysis of the coming races, let's look at the forest instead of the trees.

The biggest races of the year (sans the Derby) that has government-type dollar figures attached will not be determined by the best horses, it will be determined by the race track surface. It is insanity.

The Europeans are invading California, and Americans are running scared. After last year's pillaging, the Europeans have entered a hoard of contenders because the Pro-ride surface at Santa Anita favors turf horses, the specialty in Europe, rather than dirt horses.

The synthetic surfaces have turned the sport on its head. Owners and trainers train and race their horses on turf to gain an edge. What's the point of doing dirt tracks now?

The fact that the surface is the leading story of their championships and not the horses should have the decision-makers rethink their fascination with synthetic surfaces.

In other news, this year gamblers will have the opportunity to bet on which jockey will win the most races. I wholeheartedly support this decision. Maybe it is the success of Animal Planet's Jockeys (brilliant show), but it is a great way for prospective horse fans to pick someone to have a connection to rather than a horse that may only race for one season or a billionaire oil prince. Not sure how it will work, but I don't see much downside.

Stay tuned for analysis of some select races.

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