I was chatting with a few friends this morning and there’s something we’d like to share. We thought that it would be of particular interest to you as one of your mission statements is to “Leverage television assets and yearlong promotional programs with ESPN to promote big event days and create stars”
This Saturday Churchill has a fantastic card headlined by Curlin, our reining horse of the year, in the Stephen Foster. Not only is Curlin undefeated in 4 starts, has won 9 out 12 starts, and never been out of the money. Most importantly he’s the horse racing equivalent of a big foot sighting as a horse with a successful 3yo campaign returning for a 4yo campaign. I’m sure you know all this.
What I’m writing to tell you is that this was a GREAT and TIMELY opportunity to build on the skyrocketing viewership of the Belmont just last weekend by marketing and televising this card on ESPN or ESPN2. Few got what they wanted out of the Belmont, which leaves a wide gaping whole of yearning for a kick ass horse race to be filled. The Stephen Foster provides just such an opportunity.
And think of the excellent story that Curlin makes on the heals of Big Brown. He was last year’s Big Brown, going into the Derby undefeated with only 3 starts. While his path didn’t take the same trajectory as Big Brown’s, look at him now, poised to potentially sweep in to the international scene and prove that America can produce great horses that can race and win in drug free circumstances abroad. It’s a story of redemption all the way around, and one that could let casual fans know that Big Brown is still a good horse with a shot to come back later in the year for his shot at redemption.
How many people thought Curlin’s spirit could have been broken after his gut wrenching performance in last year’s Belmont at the end of a grueling Triple Crown season where he had NO 2yo foundation? Then to have him return in the Haskell to turn in a mediocre performance, leading us all to believe that perhaps we only got a brief glimpse of what could have been.
But then came the Jockey Club Gold Cup… where he ran down the Lawyer Ron, who was looking like the horse of the year, in a thrilling stretch battle that sent the memo, “don’t count me out yet, I’m just getting my game back”!
Certainly there are other great story lines to be had as well. As some of my friends pointed out, like building a Curlin/Einstein rivalry as it seems likely they will meet again in the Arlington Millions as Curlin will need a grass prep for the Arc. This could also play out as an Asmussen/Pitts rivalry.
The bottom line is that this was a very timely missed opportunity to help us build that new era.
P.S., another friend wants you to know about another opportunity before it’s too late.