This year’s Breeder’s Cup Classic started with a bang. The literal banging of horses bouncing off each other. The eventual winner, Bayern, came out of the gate and immediately veered toward the rail, bumping pre-race favorite Shared Belief, who in turn bumped Moreno. Moreno was supposed to give Bayern a run for the money by setting the early pace, so his bumpy start gave Bayern the chance to run wire to wire, eventually winning by a neck. Shared Belief finished fourth, his first loss.
It took the stewards several minutes, extensive review of the video, and telephone discussions with Martin Garcia, riding Bayern, and Mike Smith, who rode Shared Belief, to declare the results “official” but the controversy has continued to play out in the press.
Many people — both sports writers and the general public — feel that Bayern should have been disqualified. As Bob Baffert has said, he has “never seen so much animosity over a horse race.” The discussion is ongoing and heated. Here are some comments that I copied from an article in the Paulick Report:
“Odd, since I’ve been watching racing for close to 40 years, and EVERY time that happens at the gate, the horse gets DQ’d if they end up winning.”
“It was not the correct call. It was an obvious DQ that the stewards were too gutless to make on Baffert on his first Classic win. To say he caused the interference but did not alter the order of finish is the most ridiculous comment ever uttered. Of course it altered the finish, it changed the whole race, and if that was the 5th race on a Wednesday, they DQ him in 2 minutes.”
“In this instance Garcia’s fault was failure to take reasonable action to PREVENT his horse plunging to left. Take another look at the film.”
“Garcia’s right rein was a yard long, his left was held short. Of course the horse responded to the steering gear – he plunged left.”
“That is a sure way to make a horse leap sideways coming out of the gate. Was it deliberate or simply careless? The result (like it or not) will not be changed. However, Garcia should be penalized for careless or dangerous riding.”
“It was a pretty drastic foul. V.E. Day was nearly knocked off his feet and Moreno didn’t fare much better. Martin Garcia should get days. He didn’t appear to be making much of an effort to collect Bayern after the left hand turn out of the gate. Lucky no one was hurt.”
Should Bayern have been disqualified for the interference? Let’s look at the rules:
(a) A leading horse is entitled to any part of the course but when another horse is attempting to pass in a clear opening the leading horse shall not cross over so as to compel the passing horse to shorten its stride.
(b) A horse shall not interfere with or cause any other horse to lose stride, ground or position in a part of the race where the horse loses the opportunity to place where it might be reasonably expected to finish.
(c) A horse which interferes with another and thereby causes any other horse to lose stride, ground or position, when such other horse is not at fault and when such interference occurs in a part of the race where the horse interfered with loses the opportunity to place where it might, in the opinion of the Stewards, be reasonably expected to finish, may be disqualified and placed behind the horse so interfered with.
(d) Jockeys shall not ride carelessly, or willfully, so as to permit their mount to interfere with or impede any other horse.
(e) Jockeys shall not willfully strike or strike at another horse or jockey so as to impede, interfere with, intimidate, or injure.
(f) If a jockey rides in a manner contrary to this rule, the mount may be disqualified and the jockey may be suspended or otherwise disciplined by the Stewards.
NOTE: Authority cited: Section 19562, Business and Professions Code. Reference: Sections 19461 and 19562, Business and Professions Code. HISTORY: 1. Amendment filed 4-21-83; effective 5-21-83. 2. Amendment filed 8-13-97; effective 9-12-97.
Here’s the official statement:
After speaking with the patrol judges and riders involved, it was our unanimous decision that pursuant to CHRB Rule 1699, that the incident occurred in a part of the race where the horses interfered with were not cost the opportunity to place where they were reasonably expected to finish.
Watch the video and then tell me what you think!