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Monday, October 1, 2012

"The Call" Revisted and More

Yesterday, people were talking about "The Call" from Saturday night in The Red Mile's fourth race when the judges took John Campbell's horse down from first and placed him last for causing confusion behind after a ten minute inquiry.  Some asked me for my opinion, others asked me why I hadn't discussed the "Worst Call in Red Mile History" up to then. 

Quite honestly, I didn't discuss it because I think the judges made the right call and didn't feel the need to discuss it.  But since everyone seems to be pillorying the judges, it is time for someone to come to their defense.

First of all, let's keep things in perspective.  Despite the editorial comment by some, including the person whose video I have posted here, the worst call in history, tends to be the most recent call people feel was blown.  Making decisions on inquiries is a judgement call and until there is a computer making these calls, opinion will always come into play and there will be differences.  This is why this decision will likely stand up after appeal as the judges came to a 3-0 decision in favor of the disqualification.

That being said, shame on The Red Mile for not posting the fourth race from Saturday night on their YouTube channel where they have been posting video replays.  Whether or not management at The Red Mile feel the judges blew it or not, pretending the race didn't happen is not a responsible way to handle things.  The race should have been posted so people could make their own decisions and watch the race if they wished.  The failure of The Red Mile in not posting the replay not only suggests they are letting their judges hang out to dry which is unprofessional, it is forcing me to use the video below with it's editorial comment (Update: Harnessracing.com has the video of the race available (windows media player)..

The first thing which all must acknowledge is none of us were in the judges' stand.  This means we may not have seen all the camera angles they did nor are we privy to all the accounts given by the drivers involved in the inquiry.  Some of this testimony may have influenced the decision handed down.  That being said, this is how I came up with the decision the judges were correct.

I focused on the wide-angle view.  I see #3-Real Broker (Sears) run up and hit the helmet of the driver of #1-Rockin Amadeus (Gingras) who was backing up (the regular view suggests Sears may have started to go out and then backed back inside but the head on shows he didn't start moving out).  This resulted in all the confusion behind.  Why didn't Real Broker move to the outside?  Some people have said Sears should have moved to the outisde to avoid the problem.  Should Sears have done so?  In retrospect, yes.  Did he have to?  No, he decided to try to save ground and hope for a chance in the stretch to make a move.  Failing to pull a horse in itself may be a poor driving move but not a violation of the rules of racing as he's entitled to that part of the track.

So why did #1-Rockin Amadeus take up?  Because #5-Odds On Equuleus (Campbell) slowed up.  The question is did Odds On Equuleus slow up in a manner to be held responsible for what happened behind?  Granted the fractions were nothing special.  In itself, we have no overly fast fractions and nothing which could be considered excessively slow quarters.  To me, that has no play in the decision; it is a question as to how the flow was within the third quarter; you can slow up and speed up within the same quarter of a race so to me, the question was did Odds On Equuleus make a change in the tempo of the race at a particular point which caused Gingras to react suddenly which caused Sears to react suddenly?  I said yes as did the judges. 

Admittedly, whether Odds On Equuleus did change the tempo within the quarter in question is a judgement call.  Based on the outcry, it is safe to assume no one is going to ask me to work the judges' stand and that is fine with me. 

It is easy to criticize a judge's call after the fact.  It all boils down to the interpretation of what one sees and the rules.  Whether you agree or disagree with the call, until that magical machine is built, we need to rely on our officials to make the calls to the best of their ability and to live with it.





The first session of the Lexington yearling sales is coming up Tuesday night and despite the fact twenty-seven Somebeachsomewheres are heading into the sales ring, breeders must be wondering if this sale is going to be a tough one for them this year.  Based on the sales which have occurred thus far, it doesn't look promising.

While the sale is in the United States, Ontario's problems look to trickle into the American market.  Like it or not, you may get a good yearling at Lexington, but if Ontario racing is emasculated in 2013, will you have a place to race your top 2 or 3yo over a mile track next year for top purses, excluding the Meadowlands?  Sires stakes races are a great way to earn money, but there are only so many races for state-breds.


At The Red Mile on Sunday afternoon, a $20,000 RUS event was contested with a field of twelve horses competing.  While three horses missed the starting gate, it was a very competitive race, perhaps the best of the year.



Afterwards, I did hear from a few people who indicated a few of the riders seemed out of place.  I suspect what people may have been seeing is the results of not enough racing opportunities which means some riders, along with horses were somewhat green.  For example, if you look at the three horses who missed the gate, it was the first time these three horses made a RUS start; the problem was more likely the horse's inexperience than the rider's.

If you remember the first attempt at racing under saddle years ago, this is a vast upgrade to the product.  This is not to say changes aren't necessary.  A more rigorous qualification process for riders and horses needs to be implemented to improve the overall product and I trust changes will be forthcoming during the off season.

In the meanwhile, expect to see more RUS events next year and in the future.


Have you noticed the race recaps from the Red Mile?  They have been written by Ray Cotolo.   Ray is the son of long time harness (etc...) journalist Frank Cotolo and is a dedicated (understatement) fan of racing and aspiring journalist. He currently a regular on the North AmericanHarness Update web radio broadcast, blogs about racingand handicapping and has written with his dad for the Hambletonian Society on a number of occassions.  Oh, by the way, Ray's 13 years of age.  We need more Ray's in the business.

10 comments:

edge1124 said...

I feel it was a horrible call too...Campbell went 26 and change in his 2nd Q and then 28 and 1 for the 3rd quarter....that is not too terrible, it seemed the pocket horse and Sears caused each other problems. Had Sears just continued to pull out we would not be having this problem. Sears did the damage in my opinion.

edge1124

Pacingguy said...

Again, Sears had the right to stay where he was. You can't mandate him to pull (of course, if you had the famous half-in - half-out move that could involve a fine) as he was entitled to be in that position.

As for the fractions, let me try explaining this and I know the rules of the auto road are different. Imagine you are driving your car at 50 miles per hour and you suddenly took your foot of the gas pedal (or it slipped) and your car slowed down to 40 mph and then you went back to 50 mph. Your average may have been 48 mph but the fact is at one point you slowed up.

Using this analogy, it wasn't the speed of the quarter which was the problem it was the 'foot slipping of the gas pedal for a moment' which was the problem.

Anonymous said...

Pacingguy,

Did you notice the charts on the race? There are no interference marks on the pocket horse (Gingras) or the horse Sears was driving, only on the breaking horses.

If John Campbell caused confusion to the extent that his horse had to be placed last, how can the horses right behind him not have been victims of his "infraction?"

Don't judges approve the charts? THEIR ruling isn't consistent with THEIR facts from the race.

My conclusion: The judges blew it!

Pacingguy said...

Anon, if you look at the usta website for the race, you will see the #2 and #4 were awarded interference breaks. The judges must have ruled their breaks were resultant of the confusion.

Why the others were not given interference marks, I don't know. That's a different problem and it is another example of why watching replays is important in handicapping as the charter doesn't catch everything.

edge1124 said...

I will bet a FIN that the appeal is successful and the disqualification is overturned. Campbell is not even yanking back on the horse he just stopped asking for more which is allowed. It is called pacing your horse. I have seen drivers hold back and pull off a 32 2nd Q but in this case he allowed the horse just to slow down a touch. Using the car analogy...he did not slam on the brake lights and cause others to panic behind him. Sears made a decision to come out, he failed to see how quick a 1st over horse was coming and add that to the fact the pace slowed but was not slowed to within the legal rules, it looked bad because Sears messed up. Sears was 28-1 in a big stakes race with very good horses, did he think he could just gradually pull out of the 3 hole and go 1st over?? When you pull out of the 3 hole you need to do it quickly cuz horses are usually coming, it's not like he was pulling from 4th or 5th. So had he got out of the 3 hole he would have finished 5th or maybe worse but because he messed up he actually made more money and finished 4th. A farce just the the replacement officials.

JLB said...

edge 1124 is absolutely right. Sears came out late, realized he would possibly interfere with the horse coming on the outside behind him, and awkwardly tucked back in. And, honestly, I do not see Gingras having to check in any way. Bad call.

Pacingguy said...

I'm beginning to think I am the only person in the world who agrees with the judges. Good thing I am not a judge.

Scott Jeffreys said...

Dear Pacingguy : In addition to other comments on a more recent thread, the question really needs to come back to you - exactly what you do see in the pan-shot that convinces you that Campbell excessively slowed the pace within about five strides heading into/around the far turn? The more I watch the video, the more I am convinced that the pocket sitter created the problems.

Sincerely, Scott Jeffreys

Pacingguy said...

Scott,

Make no mistake, if Sears pulled, we would not be having this discussion. I beliee I mentione in my other response that he started to pull but then aborted it when another horse came charging up. When Sears returned to the pocket, the other horse was already up to the sulky. Yes, you could assume as I would, the other horse would have went three wide but perhaps Sears thought he was coming too fast to do it?

I believe while Campbell didn't take up the horse abruptly, he may have 'Sat Down' with the horse. That is what the judges must have decided what happend.

Pacingguy said...

Scott,

Make no mistake, if Sears pulled, we would not be having this discussion. I beliee I mentione in my other response that he started to pull but then aborted it when another horse came charging up. When Sears returned to the pocket, the other horse was already up to the sulky. Yes, you could assume as I would, the other horse would have went three wide but perhaps Sears thought he was coming too fast to do it?

I believe while Campbell didn't take up the horse abruptly, he may have 'Sat Down' with the horse. That is what the judges must have decided what happend.