Three left for Smarty Jones?
Smarty Jones may retire after this years Breeder’s Cup. Such is the regrettable state of horse racing economics: it’s too costly to campaign the horse that puts the sport back on the map. Smarty is a more valuable asset in the breeding shed than on the track, and insurance premiums to race skyrocket – to $1m a year – as a result. On account of both explicit (insurance) and implicit costs (foregone stud fees) of racing, the profit-maximizing decision for the Chapmans is to retire Smarty Jones to the breeding shed.
Racing needs to fix the economics of their sport. Industry funded insurance for champions like Smarty Jones is a simple, and pretty cheap remedy. One could offer racing insurance as a bonus to any dual classic winner (or Triple Crown winner) should they continue to race as a four year old. Such a bonus attacks the explicit cost part of the problem, which is relevant to ordinary folks like the Chapmans, if not the Sheiks and Princes of the racing world. I understand the Chapmans’ thinking – if I were asked to bear expenses of $1m to offer racing fans the pleasure of seeing their hero compete, I’d think twice before parting with that much cash. Particularly if the alternative (the breeding shed) was more lucrative anyway. The insurance part of the problem is one that the industry can fix, rather simply I think. It’s not a complete solution, but it does lower the price of goodwill on the Chapmans’ part.
The NTRA was selling hats like hotcakes two weeks ago, all adorned with the Go Smarty Go! logo. The cry has now changed to Run Smarty Run!