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.