Could you imagine if the controversial race we discussed yesterday involving Auckland Reactor occurred in the United States? To recap what happened, two horses (driven by brothers) trained by Geoff Small were in a race at Addington Raceway against Auckland Reactor. Awesome Armbro, an accomplished FFAller in his own right (he finished second to the Reactor in the same race last year) who is known for his racing off the pace style, raced eye-to-eye against Auckland Reactor the whole race until the final turn providing his stablemate Changeover cover. A funny thing happened just as Changeover tipped off cover; his stablemate whose job was to mug Auckland Reactor, backed up in what could have been a world record time. Mission accomplished; Auckland Reactor understandably tired and finished out of the money. Thanks to the mugging, Monkey King was able to come from last and win the race with Changeover finishing third.
Make no mistake about this. Awesome Armbro was not driven to win; he was raced to defeat Auckland Reactor in a failed attempt to deliver the race for his stablemate Changeover. Granted, Awesome Armbro was a long shot, but those that bet on him were cheated; plain and simple. We will leave it to New Zealand racing officials to take care of those involved in this race. Just to be clear, no one is suggesting Monkey King's connections had any involvement in this team racing.
While I am not aware of any blatant situations like this occurring in North America, thanks to rules allowing uncoupled entries in major stake races, the potential for a similar situation occurring exists. It is one thing if such a mugging happened with a coupled entry; at least the bettor would still have had a live horse if one of the stablemates were sacrificed to bring down a heavy favorite. But with the horses being uncoupled, a bettor can find themselves betting on the sacrificial lamb while another stablemate wins the race.
I understand why horses are uncoupled in stake races. Without allowing the uncoupling of entries, many stake races may have only four or five betting interests. I am not saying we need to eliminate the uncoupling of entries, but racing needs to address the threat of this type of situation occurring before it happens here; perhaps a lifetime ban for any driver(s) involved in this type of action. After all, the best damage control is preventing the problem from occurring in the first place.
Speaking of Auckland Reactor, it has been announced he will be leaving New Zealand for the United States on January 15 with the intent of making his North American pari-mutuel debut in June. It will be interesting to see if he will live up to his billing. While New Zealand and Australian horses race quite capably when they arrive here, they tend not to be as dominating as they were in their homeland. It will be curious to see if how he performs against our native FFAllers.