As of this writing, Hurricane Sandy has caused widespread devastation. Eight states have been declared federal emergency areas and the destruction is extending to states in the Midwest. The toll in human life and property is heartbreaking.

While Friday and Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup races will take place nearly three thousand miles away from the East Coast, in Los Angeles, the event is likely to be negatively affected by the weather.

First, if power is off for a week to ten days in some of the population centers in the Eastern United States, betting will be down. Even if people have telephone service, they are unlikely to be in a mood to handicap horse races.

Second, power outages and psychological distress are apt to diminish the number of people who watch the races on television or the Internet.

Third, though air travel may be restored by Friday, people in areas with severe storm damage may cancel their plans to attend the Breeders’ Cup.

The main effects of Hurricane Sandy on the Breeders’ Cup are most likely to be depressed wagering and television ratings. This would not be the case if the storm affected a less populated geographical area or one in which horse racing was not as popular. But the Eastern seaboard is the most populated region in the United States and New York is the American center of horse racing.

The 2012 Breeders’ Cup was not particularly attractive to begin with, owing to the absence of one or more big-name horses. Coupled with the fallout from Hurricane Sandy, this means that increases in the size of the handle and television audience for the event do not look promising.

Moreover, the quality of the competition will be diminished if East Coast horses cannot be transported to Los Angeles in time.

If the Breeders’ Cup overcomes these obstacles—and shows increases in handle and the TV ratings—that will be quite an achievement. Here’s hoping that happens.


I’m sure that the people suffering from Storm Sandy are on the minds of most racing fans. It would be helpful, at least in a small way, to match a portion of the money one bets on Friday and Saturday, and send that money to the Red Cross or other such reputable rescue organization. Maybe all of the owners, trainers, and jockeys of Breeders’ Cup races would pledge, in advance, to devote five or ten percent of their winnings to relief efforts.

Copyright © 2012 Horse Racing Business