Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Do Hollywood Park Stewards Drop The Ball?

Race six on Sunday afternoon at Betfair Hollywood Park started with So She Dances dropping jockey Joe Talamo after stumbling at the gate and only got worse from there.

As you can see in the race replay, Branding, with Gary Stevens aboard, was making what appeared to be a winning move in the stretch when she was shut off in between the eventual winner,  Miss Radiance (Alonso Quinonez), and the loose So She Dances.  Track announcer Vic Stauffer said in his race call that Branding was "sawed off by the loose horse...and that you can't claim foul against a loose horse."

However, with the stewards not putting up the inquiry sign and allowing the winners' circle photo to be taken, Stevens claimed foul against Miss Radiance and Quinonez, and with apparent good reason as you can see on the head-on replay that begins at 5:30, it appears that the loose horse wasn't the culprit, but Miss Radiance drifting out into Branding's path under a left-handed whip.  The stewards looked at the head-on replay for approximately four minutes, and despite the apparent video evidence that Miss Radiance had fouled Branding, they ruled that "although Miss Radiance drifted out it did not cost Branding a better placing," and allowed the result to stand.

The stewards' decision caused a social media uproar with Branding's owner Craig Bernick, trainer Tom Proctor, and Stevens (1, 2)  all disagreeing with the stewards' decision via Twitter.  Media members Jay Privman (DRF) and Becky Witzman (HRTV), among others, were also against the call as was owner Samantha Siegel.  Horseplayers were also displeased with tweets like this and this representing the general feeling.  One person was happy, though, that being television and radio personality Jim Rome, whose Jungle Racing LLC owns the mare.

There are issues with this decision.  First, the decision appears to be wrong given the video evidence, and second, the reasoning given, that Branding didn't miss out on a higher placing, is also faulty. Finally, what mechanisms are in place to check this call?  If this was the National Football League,  a supervisor of officials would review the call, and if deemed wrong, the league would issue an apology and the officials would be subject to discipline.  Will that happen in this case?

This final tweet sums up the entire situation for many - What do you think?


Anonymous said...

There's is no question about it.The riderless horse(#5)played a roll in what happened to the #4 horse.whether it's 1%,10% or 50% the riderless horse played a roll in the interference.I would have left the #1 up for that reason!

That Blog Guy said...

The two horses with jocks on them definitely interfered with the horse in question but if the loose horse wasn't there, he may have had an escape route.

My guess is the judges felt while he may not have caused the interference, the interference may have been avoided if the loose horse wasn't there; hence no DQ.

Anonymous said...

Lots is being made about the "riderless horse" but I find it irrelevant. Put a rider on the horse in your mind and watch it. It doesn't change things. Stevens got veered into badly and it cost him. That's what the stewards are there for - to see if a horse is impeded from finishing in a higher position due to the actions of a horse and rider. This call should've taken no more than a minute and the winner should've been DQ'd.

Anonymous said...

You can't "Put a rider on the horse" The race was run with a "riderless horse"


Horseracingnut said...

Full disclosure: I DID NOT HAVE a betting interest in this race.

Look at the head-on shot. The winner, not the riderless horse caused the interference WITHOUT question.

Unfortunately, the 3 blind mice (aka BHP Stewards) didn't see that fact. And their BS explanation that #4 (Branding) was only going to run 4th at best anyway is the biggest cop-out explanation I've heard in 40+ years of following this sport.

I agree with HRTV's Kurt Hoover who said, "Stewards need to be held accountable, just as officials in MLB, NFL, NBA & NHL. Those officials are identified by name before every game. Why can't horse racing, after a decision on an OBJECTION, post how EACH voted on the matter?!"

Bravo Kurt Hoover!

Gary Quill