Admit it. We love our International racing. While we may not yet be able to wager on it, there was plenty of interest in the Elitlopp this year by racing fans, curious to know how our representatives, Maven and Uncle Peter did.
Unfortunately, the Elitlopp is over and we have another disappointing outcome for North American interests. One must ask why our horses are not doing as well over there? Part of the answer can be explained by the thus far successful American campaign of Sebastian K. So far the Swedish horse has been successful thanks to an extended period of acclimation. Typically, when a European horse is shipped to the States to race, they are immediately put in quarantine only to be allowed to work on the track by themselves when the locals are done training, far from their typical routine. How can we expect them to perform at the levels they performed in Europe? Same thing when we have our horses crossing the pond; with the disruption to their schedules, they are not likely to perform at the top of their game.
Some people think Auckland Reactor was over-hyped when he came to the United States to race. No doubt he flopped royally when he came here; but he was a better horse than he showed. Part of his problem was medical, part was he was expected to come out of the Australasian winter and race in the summer months up here with no transition to speak of. I dare suspect after the Reactor had his surgery, if he was given time off he could have become a credible force in North America. Instead, his connections shipped him back down under where he finished his career with some success to become the leading stallion with respect to bookings last year.
While the Reactor's connections were likely unrealistic and there was no salvaging his performance based on their plans, there is a way to have meaningful international racing. What if we set up an International series with races in the United States and Canada? The only difference is I would have them ship over earlier and card a race only for International horses so they would compete against horses which had been in a similar situation with respect to quarantine so they would be racing under the same conditions. Then, the horses would come out of quarantine and two weeks later, the first International race with North American representation would compete to be followed up with a subsequent race in Canada (assuming an American race was first).
I realize the plan has one big problem. Would horsemen dedicate purse money for an Invitational which excludes their horses from participating? It would certainly take a change in attitudes to do so.
Only when European and American horses have had a period of similar training could we say who is the best horse. Isn't that something worth finding out; worth organizing?