Heartbeats & Hoofbeats: Blame wins Breeder’s Cup; TV viewers lose

By Susan Johnson
Copy Editor

Did you see the horse race that disappeared?

I’m talking about the 2010 Breeder’s Cup at Churchill Downs, Louisville, Ky., that was run last Saturday, Nov. 6—the 27th annual event. It was run on schedule, and congratulations to Blame, who won in a surprising upset; condolences to Zenyatta, the favorite, who put forth a terrific effort, just missing by inches.

Brickbats to the TV network for spoiling it for everybody. For any fans watching on ABC Sports, it was a major disappointment. We got some fine photos of Zenyatta and other horses before the race, but just before the main event, the local station suddenly switched over to football. Aarrgh!

When I called WTVO for an explanation, I was told, “It was ABC National that switched. We have no control over it.” What?!!

Whether you had any money bet on the race or were just watching to see history made in sports, it’s obvious the local fans were done a great disservice by the ABC Network.

I thought I could tune in the 10 p.m. news to at least get the results and maybe a brief recap with a photo of the finish. Wrong again! Channels 13 and 23 concentrated on football news exclusively. Channel 17 had a program—College Football. Sunday morning, I found stories in the Chicago Tribune and the Register Star. At least they saw fit to report it.

Surprising things sometimes happen in horse racing, and any number of things can go wrong. In the Turf Juvenile, which was broadcast earlier, Rough Sailing slipped on the turf, went down, spilling his jockey and got up again, but later had to be euthanized.

Yes, amazing things happen, but never do you expect to see a magician-type act in which a whole horse race vanishes before your eyes! I’ve never seen broadcasters pull a stunt like this with any of the Triple Crown races, so why do they think it’s OK to do it to the Breeder’s Cup?

If you’d like to let the national network know how you feel about this insult to horse racing fans, here’s where to send your protest: ABC Inc., Att: Audience Relations Dept., 500 S. Buena Vista St., Burbank, CA 91521-4551, or call (818) 460-7477.

From the Nov. 10-16, 2010 issue

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