This week begins the road to the Breeders' Cup. Although it's maybe not as defined or celebrated as the road to the Triple Crown I think I probably enjoy it more. There is more diversity, more quality on display and of course it culminates in racing's best event, the Breeders' Cup.
Unfortunately it seems like a few people in prominent positions have dropped the ball. As of right now there is no online fantasy game with a Breeders' Cup focus for fans to look forward to. There is no official kick off promotion from the Breeders' Cup itself. In fact breederscup.com does not even have a schedule of the BC Challenge Races (Win And You're In) for 2009.
Going back to the fantasy games for just a moment, it's my feeling that racing needs to aggressively pursue the creation and promotion of online fantasy games. Fantasy sports is the future and it's how dedicated fans want to enhance their enjoyment of their favorite sport. I would even submit that the prizes don't need to be great. The Road to the Roses fantasy game has shown that you can attract decent interest in a fantasy game even if you ask players to pay for it. There was a free option of course but the pay to play pool swelled to over $20,000. Not having a prominent fantasy game that leads up to and highlights the biggest day on the calender is a terrible oversight. Fans like to play these games, racing needs to find a way to provide them.
I think Churchill Downs understands that this is a kick off to the second part of the year because they've slated 5 graded stakes for this weekend. The Stephen Foster and Fleur de Lis often have special significance within their divisions. Royal Ascot also kicks off next Tuesday. That five day race meeting often identifies horses of class that end up being Breeders' Cup contenders. If you want to get a head start on some good Europeans to follow make sure to keep an eye on Royal Ascot.
I certainly plan on giving the Breeders' Cup my full attention over the coming months. Top 10 lists, stats and the 20-20 profiles are the main ways I'll look to cover the build up to the Breeders' Cup.
I hope everyone enjoys this weekend's racing. It's just the beginning of great things to come.