When captains in the American wagering industry speculate that the action in China and the orient could dwarf that of the United States, people turn heads. Look at the state of horse racing in Japan decades ago. Industry officials did not even know on what plane they stood against foreign competition. To address some of these thoughts, the Japan Cup was created to evaluate their countries progress or lack of it against the best of the world. Initially, racers flocked to the orient to pick up the gauntlet. On the road to this year’s 34th edition, two distinct results have been generated from this noble experiment called the Japan Cup.
When the foreign horses were dominating in the early going, the players from around the world were more than willing to make the trip. Then a funny thing happened on the way to the ticket booth. Home grown horses from Japan were making inroads. They would win a race here or there. Whispers of an industry on the uptick. Suddenly the 2400 meter raceway was being dominated by domestic teams. This last decade saw the pendulum shift almost entirely over to Japan. There lay the problem right now. Logistical concerns, real or imaginary, were being cited as to not making the trip anymore. Sensing they were choking the golden goose, the JRA started announcing lucrative bonuses up to $800,000 if the big boys came over and captured first place.
Credibility Maintained by Foreign Measuring Stick
The action is off the chart on money wagered through horse racing in Japan. Trainers usually not even get their licenses until their forties. Predominately, only one horse per team is allowed in each race. The desire to maintain the highest credibility is paramount to keep the money flowing. Besides difficulties in travel, the American season often butts heads with the major Japanese races and especially with the Japan Cup. Why roll the dice so soon after the Breeders Cup and before the Hong Kong season on a potential bonus when the horses from the home country have such a strong advantage? Communication needs to be established between federations to get the health of the industry up in other areas including the United States.
This is not a case where one country has to bend knee to make it work. The missing element in propelling horse racing to unseen heights is the dimension of nationalism. Look at tennis and golf. They have built a second season on events pitting countries against each other. The wagering on those events are only eclipsed by the already established slam events. If racing around the world can come together, Nationalism will unite them and divide the wagerers at the betting boards. The money will flow but events like the Japan Cup need to be built up by changes in scheduling before this can become a reality.