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Tuesday, August 14, 2012
BC choice 'par for the course' to Repole

By Bob Ehalt

When Mike Repole heard last week that the 2013 Breeders’ Cup would be held at Santa Anita Park in California, his reaction was completely different than it was a year ago.

Back then, when the 2012 Breeders’ Cup was awarded to Santa Anita, Repole fumed that New York had once again been bypassed to host the series. He pointed to 2005, when the Breeders’ Cup was last held in New York, and loudly complained about the way the organization continued to avoid a return trip to the Big Apple.

He even talked about working with the New York Racing Association to create a mini-Breeders’ Cup in New York to rival the real deal in California.

Surprise, they made another mistake in selecting a site and I don’t know when they’ll stop making them.

-- Owner Mike Repole

That idea never came to fruition, and now a year later one of New York’s biggest and most outspoken owners is barely breaking a sweat over a decision that will ultimately make east coast horsemen ship west for the year-end championship series for a second straight year and fourth time in a six-year span.

He’s seen this movie before.

“It’s disturbing, but it doesn’t surprise me. This is par for the course,” Repole said, pointing to a lopsided rotation that will bring the Breeders’ Cup to either Santa Anita or Churchill Downs in each year from 2008-13. “I’d love to complain to the guy who runs racing, but who’s that? There’s no one. That’s why no one in this sport can get it right, and why this sport is in so much trouble.

“The people who founded the Breeders’ Cup 25 years ago did not intend it to become what it is now. They wanted a real rotation, but it is what it is. I’m just not going to get all worked up about it anymore because I’ve come to expect things from them that will only frustrate me and the rest of us in New York.”

While Repole said he will not boycott the Breeders’ Cup, he admits his interest in the series has waned due to seeing his stable concede a home track advantage to Kentucky or California horses on a year-in, year-out basis. Though sources indicate the New York Racing Association did not submit a bid to host the 2013 Breeders' Cup, Monmouth Park, across the Hudson River in New Jersey, actively sought it. Returning the series to a relatively nearby oval which hosted it in 2007 might have appeased Reople and other New York horsemen but the Oceanport, N.J., track lost out to Santa Anita.

“The Breeders’ Cup doesn’t mean as much to me as it used to,” Repole said. “We have the best racing here on the east coast and right now I’d be just as happy winning the Remsen or Demoiselle at Aqueduct in the fall with one of my 2-year-olds than a Breeders’ Cup race.

“It’s too early to talk about the fall right now. We’ll see what happens when the time comes, but all I can say right now is that, surprise, they made another mistake in selecting a site and I don’t know when they’ll stop making them.”

Such is life, though, for Repole and other New York horsemen at a time when the road to the Breeders’ Cup is nothing more than a one-way street leading out of town.