"We don't want to gouge the fans on Breeders' Cup day, and I have the feeling Churchill would do that, just like at the Derby," Mabee said. "That's the only thing they know there and I think it might be worse at the Breeders' Cup than it is for the Derby."
The Louisville Courier-Journal, in a recent survey, concluded that Churchill Downs, after doubling prices for the Derby in 1985, has made the race one of the most expensive major sporting events in the country.
The Meadowlands, which made a low-key presentation in a quest for the Breeders' Cup a couple of years ago, may be more aggressive the next time.
"We didn't use any audio-visuals the last time," said Sam Anzalone, general manager of the Meadowlands, which competes with New York's thoroughbred tracks for four months each year. "We didn't want to come on like a bull in a china shop and kick up a lot of dust. But we think we deserve the shot and maybe we should come on stronger this time."
After Hollywood Park received the 1984 Breeders' Cup, Marje Everett, the track's chief operating officer, was accused of coming on \o7 too\f7 strong. Everett admitted that she had promised a personal contribution of $200,000 to the Breeders' Cup, before Hollywood had been selected.
Some racing executives wondered whether the Breeders' Cup day was for sale, rather than being awarded to the track that was most qualified. Everett responded by saying that the competing application by Oak Tree-at-Santa Anita also included a $100,000 sweetener. Oak Tree officials responded by saying that their offer differed in that the $100,000 was coming from corporate funds.
A chill still remains between Everett and Herman Smith, Oak Tree's executive vice president.
John Nerud says Hollywood Park deserved to get the Breeders' Cup the first year because of Everett's attitude toward television.
"Sonny Werblin, who knows television as well as anybody, said that we'd be lucky to get 1 1/2 hours on any network," Nerud said. "Hollywood Park had much more faith than that. Marje was the only race-track executive who recognized what prestige would come from this series of races."
Television coverage aside, there were racing observers who doubted that John Gaines' idea would ever reach the race track.
"John, do you smoke pot?" John Galbreath asked Gaines when he first mentioned his plan. Galbreath is one of Kentucky's most influential observers.
A Sports Illustrated writer had this to say about the proposed Breeders' Cup: "It's the ultimate in sports hype. This thing will never come off."
But it has, and seems here to stay. Already, it has survived two heated races at Hollywood Park, where a winner (Fran's Valentine) was disqualified and where owners of two other horses screamed like banshees when another winner (Wild Again) wasn't disqualified.
The Wild Again race was marked by a three-horse bumping incident from the sixteenth pole to the finish line. There is more bumping in the Breeders' Cup's future--when several of the nation's more prominent race tracks go behind closed doors to see if they can bring the event to their town.
Herat: Back at the crime scene. Grahame L. Jones' story, Page 4.