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East Coast Bias or East Coast Domination?

Going into the 2012 Breeders’ Cup there was so much talk about the poor performance of the eastern-based horses when the Cup is held on the west coast. There was good reason for all that talk because historically the horses from the east have not faired well at Hollywood Park or on Santa Anita’s dirt or artificial surfaces.
This Breeders’ Cup turned out to be the year when the horses from the east would finally prove that they could win in the west. Win is what they did. In total horses from the east were victorious in 10 out of 15 races including both the Ladies Classic with Royal Delta and the Classic with Fort Larned.
On Saturday the eastern-based runners took seven out of nine races including the final five marqee events: the Juvenile, the Turf, the Sprint, the Mile, and the Classic. The final count had the east winning 10, while the west and the Europeans could only find the winner’s circle twice each. A South American based horse, Calidiscopio, won for the first time in Breeders’ Cup history in the Marathon.
The dominance of the horses from the east seemed unlikely when Hurricane Sandy made it very difficult for the horses to even get to Santa Anita. The storm delayed some of the final workouts and caused many of the horses to arrive as late as Wednesday.
The poor performance of the horses from the west fell squarely on the shoulders of trainer Bob Baffert. He entered the Breeders’ Cup with a barn the appeared to be loaded with contenders, many of which were sent off as betting favorites. Yet only Executiveprivilege performed well, taking second in the Juvenile Fillies, which was won by a westcoaster, Beholder.
Baffert was full of blame and excuses. He talked about poor starts, bad luck, and blamed jockeys. “They all got beat in the first quarter-mile. It was all about position. If you don’t get position, you are in trouble. And none of my horses seemed to get that.”
The star of the stable, Game On Dude, ended up in a field that was filled with top-notch runners and Baffert said, “I was looking at all those other horses and they knocked me out. And there were some really serious horses in that field; some really good lookers and some really good runners. That Fort Larned and Mucho Macho Man, they’re good horses. Game On Dude hasn’t been running against horses like that.” That is what the Classic is all about: winning against the best horses in the world.
Why was this the year when the horses from the east finally did so well?  The new dirt track at Santa Anita was very hard and speed favoring and provided conditions of which the easterners were very familiar. I remember jockey Mike Smith making a comment, after Royal Delta had won the Beldame at Belmont Park, that turned out to be rather insightful. He said that the new surface at Santa Anita was very sandy and quite similar to the track at Belmont.
All in all it appears that the domination of the east in the Breeders’ Cup is going to lead to a lot of Eclipse Awards with Wise Dan leading the way as Horse of the Year.  


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Older Comments about East Coast Bias or East Coast Domination?...

All of the foreign winners at the Breeders' Cup were either age 2 or 9.
Eastern based horses may have won more BC races this year than all other BC's at Santa Anita combined.
There is no damm bias, it called the best horse's won the race's plain and simple, cut the crap of East or West Coast bias, it's all about who is the best horse and the best horse's won plain and simple
From what I heard. On NBC Sports and NBC, Gary Stevens and Jerry Bailey were talking about how the new Santa Anita surface had more sand than last spring and that may attribute to the liking of east coast shippers.
The East has more horses and tracks by a large number so on a long term basis that's as it should be. To think I figured that out myself, sometimes I amaze even me.
Europeans (OK, British) definitely felt something...
The West Coast dominated the Triple Crown and when its best runners were either injured or retired the east coast was able to capitalize in the Breeders Cup. I'd rather dominate the Triple Crown personally.
I think racing has three major divisions not just east and west with the third being Kentucky/Arkansas/Arlington or maybe it should be called the central region. I would consider Wise Dan, Fort Larned and the Dale Roman trained horses to be Kentucky horses and not eastern ones. The Kentucky stabled horses were the biggest winners in my opinion.
East dominated, that is a fact. The Mile, well i guess because AK is not techincally a Cali horse he is automatically an east horse, so in that case, the top 2 finishers were East Coast. First two finishers in the LC were East Coast, First two in the Sprint, Turf were all East Coast, and the first FOUR in the Classic were East Coast. That is domination plain and simple.
The majority of Tapizar's race were in the east and he spent the summer at Saratoga, but true he did have 4 races at Santa Anita in the past two years.
The West coast had a rough BC, that is for sure. Not sure I would call Tapizar an Easterner, but still, you paint a clear picture of domination here, Matt.

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Matt Shifman has been on the Horse Racing Nation staff since 2011 and currently serves as Assistant Editor. Matt covers Aqueduct, Belmont Park, Monmouth Park, and Saratoga in his two HRN blogs Racing at the Jersey Shore and New York State of Racing.


Matt’s articles and tweets frequently appear in the America’s Best Racing weekly Notebook. In 2012 he became a voter in the NTRA weekly polls for the Top Thoroughbred and Top Three-Year-Old.


The best way to get to know Matt is to check out some of his favorite articles from the past couple years.

• Preakness Interview with Trainer Todd Pletcher

• Kentucky Derby 2016 Handicapping Tips from A to Z


• Edison: the Travels of a Million Dollar Colt 

• A Kentucky Derby Field with Just 14 Horses

• What is the Best Kentucky Derby Running Style?



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