As I wrote here last week following my post on the Triple Tiara, the information that NYRA provided about this racing series didn’t quite match up. The website page about the Mother Goose indicated that the original configuration of the race (Acorn, Mother Goose, Coaching Club American Oaks) had been changed in 2003, with the Alabama replacing the Acorn. Yet the program for the Mother Goose said that a Triple Tiara trophy would be presented to the winner of the original three races, with no mention of the Alabama.
I sent a query to NYRA asking for clarification, and within a day, I heard from Dan Silver, marketing communications manager. He was incredibly helpful and responsive, and though I imagine that exploring this sort of thing is not in his job description, he tracked it down and told me that in 2006, the series had been changed back to the original three races, and that the website had apparently never been updated (it has since—no mention of the Alabama on the Mother Goose page).
Nor, apparently, was it ever reported in the press, though Eddie Kenneally, trainer of Bushfire, who won both the Acorn and the Mother Goose in 2006, indicates in his comments following the Mother Goose that the Alabama is not a part of the series: “The Triple Tiara is very prestigious, I just wish the races were spread farther apart. We might run her in the Alabama and then possibly the Gazelle.”
I recognize that this discrepancy might not be of earth-shattering significance, given the other issues in the world of racing these days. But as I’ve followed this little story (I’m not an investigative reporter, but sometimes I play one on the Internet), a couple of questions have arisen for me:
Why was the series changed in 2003, and changed back in 2006? No one with whom Dan spoke could tell him, other than that the old management of NYRA changed it for some reason, and the new management in 2006 changed it back.
Why were no reasons given for either change? I can’t find a rationale anywhere, and again, while it might not be important, I’m curious.
The financial incentive for winning the Triple Tiara hasn’t existed since 2004, when NYRA discontinued it, “citing budget concerns and a perceived lack of interest in the races the series comprised” (Thoroughbred Times). Hmm…did anyone talk to Eddie Kenneally? And when I spoke with Allen Jerkens last week, he seemed awfully proud that Sky Beauty was the last winner of the Triple Tiara.
Even if trainers/owners aren’t interested in their fillies winning these three races, doesn’t it seem like the series could be a good marketing tool? In 2006, NYRA could have promoted the hell out of Bushfire’s running in the CCA Oaks, had she chosen to go in it. Why not play up the Triple Tiara through the spring racing season? Lots of trainers ship in for the Belmont; easy enough to bring your best filly and point her towards this series. I know, I know—running four races in four months (Acorn, Mother Goose, Coaching Club, Alabama) isn’t the way it’s done these days. But in the reading I did, the Triple Tiara did seem to carry with it a certain prestige, and wouldn’t you want your filly to join the ranks of Sky Beauty, Mom’s Command, Davona Dale, Ruffian, Chris Evert, Shuvee, and Dark Mirage? Pretty impressive and exclusive company.
So here’s a plea to NYRA to emphasize this series next year, and to market it clearly and well. And if anyone out there knows why the series was changed, the first time or the second, please weigh in with a comment or an e-mail (click on my name to the right).