Thursday, 26 July 2018 20:14

A Better Way

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July 26, 2018

A Better Way

By: Jonathan Stettin


Too often the Sport of Kings has questions with no answers. On better days we have more questions than we do answers. That’s usually not a good place to be. Today I’ll talk about an ongoing problem and source of frustration, but I will also suggest a solution albeit not an original one. Nobody here is looking for credit, just a viable solution.

I love International Racing. The more I learn about it and study it, the more fond of it I grow. I have always liked it, but don’t think I truly appreciated it until I accepted the evolution of racing here in the US for what it has become.

I love the large fields. I love the big spreads in the odds. I love that they run not only uphill but downhill as well. I love that they run the wrong way and that sometimes they just go straight. I love that you get the odds at which you wagered. I love that they primarily train in their own yards. I love that they run with no race day medications, including Lasix, and for the most part it doesn’t reduce the field size. I love that they breed and train for stamina and not all speed, speed, speed. I love the competitiveness, wagering opportunities, atmosphere and almost everything else.

What l love most is how they deal with inquiries, fouls, and disqualifications. Who among us has not been frustrated by a disqualification they felt was unjust? Who has not witnessed blatant inconsistencies with no acceptable or plausible explanation? Who has not wanted to scream at another, who thought the foul didn’t cost the other horse a “chance” at a better placing? I have written about so many poor decisions and rulings over the years it has grown tiresome. I’ve seen way too many people reduce their handle and stop playing certain racetracks, because of mostly inconsistent rulings, but just plain bad and wrong ones also.

World class rider Frankie Dettori will be missing some very important and significant mounts at Goodwood this weekend. He won’t be riding Stradivarius in the Goodwood Cup or Without Parole in the Quatar Sussex Stakes. He also won’t be riding Coronet in a Group 1 at Ascot. Dettori rode Angel’s Hideaway for John Gosden to a second place finish to Pretty Pollyanna in the Dutchess of Cambridge Stakes recently.

Here is how the ruling went down at a hearing;

The filly caused interference by moving to her right, pushing Main Edition on to La Pelosa.

BHA disciplinary panel chairman David Fish said: "The basis of our finding is he didn't take corrective action sufficiently quickly. We take the view he had sufficient time to take preventative action before he actually did.”

"We take the view considerable interference was caused to two horses, in particular the ones ridden by Mr. Doyle (Main Edition) and Mr. Buick (La Pelosa). We take into account the period over which this careless riding occurred.”

Clearly in the US this would have likely resulted in a disqualification from second place to at least fourth for Angel’s Hideaway. Bettors who needed her for second would be out of luck. They would be penalized for picking the right horse and betting it correctly, when they in fact did nothing wrong. Does anyone see a problem with that? Bettors put up their money, only to have people not putting up money make decisions regarding theirs. Expletive expletive! That doesn’t really work for me and I have seen way too many preposterous calls to trust the right call will be made.

In Europe and Japan, they have a different philosophy. They go hard at the rider with fines and suspensions. They don’t automatically allow a rider to ride in important stakes while on suspension. They will take away a purse, but rarely a winning ticket. The bettor is valued and protected, and this system results in far less inquiries and careless riding incidents. It reminds me of when NYRA stewards would look at gate fouls, herding and incidents hard, and disqualify a horse when warranted. There was less herding out of the gate. The horses and their tendencies have not changed.

It may not be perfect, as there will be times you are cost a placing by a horse that does not get disqualified. We all know that is frustrating, but I think in light of the wild nonsensical and inconsistent rulings we have seen in the last 10 years or so, it just may be the better way to go. I will take objectivity as opposed to subjectivity every time.