It is most unfortunate the scheduling of The Yonkers International requires it to be contested on Saturday, October 10, the same day of the Kentucky Futurity and other stake races which will be contested at The Red Mile. Perhaps even more infuriating to some is the fact the International will be part of an afternoon program on a Saturday afternoon.
Some people suggest Yonkers and the SOA have committed a near-treasonous act in competing against The Kentucky Futurity, I see it totally different. Yonkers has held off officially announcing a date for the International so it could see if an alternative date could be found. The reality is there is no other day for the International to be contested on.
One must remember in presenting the International, the goal is to present the strongest possible field of foreign and American participants possible. After all, for a million dollars, who really wants second or third stringers representing the various countries? As such, one need to consider not only the North American racing calendar; the European racing calendar must be considered. The UET Master Series, a series whose final is worth €480,000 is scheduled for September 13, is a series where points are earned by competing in Master Series events all year long (the point total resets to zero after this event). One can't expect horses who have been competing in the Master Series for a whole year to skip their lucrative final in order to head over to the United States. As a result, September is not available for scheduling.
Which brings us to October. October 17 are the Breeders Crown eliminations for older horses while October 24 is when the Crown finals are being contested. Being foreign horses who win certain races in Europe are eligible to compete in the Crown finals, it makes sense to contest the International at a point where horses may compete in the International and then move on to the Breeders Crown. You don't want the International to be that far away from the Breeders Crown so a foreign horse remains in racing form. Hence, we come to October 10.
So why is Yonkers racing in the afternoon? Couldn't they just as easily race at night which is typical for them? Well, as the Meadowlands has done, stakes races which have European interest are scheduled to maximize European wagering opportunities. Considering time zone differences, it makes sense to race the International during the daytime.
Race on Friday or Sunday in the afternoon? Yonkers cards it European-style racing on days when PMU has openings on their calendar. Without PMU to distribute the signal in Europe, there would be no foreign wagering on the race, not a good use of a million dollar race.
Instead of shooting recriminations against each other, how can The Red Mile and Yonkers cards be best presented so they complement each other instead of competing against each other, making the best of the situation? One way is for The Red Mile to make the International part of their racing program by importing the signal and to have their own pool while Yonkers takes the Kentucky Futurity and adds it to their program. This way it can be assured the premiere events from each card don't go head to head against each other's racing program. Failing that, one track can start earlier than the other and card their premier events so the Futurity and International don't compete against each other? Other possibilities for working these races must exist.
Too many times the industry turns on itself instead of working together. Here is an opportunity for it to work together. Let's see if it takes advantage of the situation to work out a solution which makes the best of an awkward situation..