At Cal Expo on Saturday, December 22, 2012, there was a questionable call in the fourth race involving #4 Lady's Art and #1 Bewareofthisaffair. If you watch the replay of the race below, pay attention to the period between the 17 and 30 second mark.
After the race, an inquiry was posted regarding the actions of the driver of Lady's Art (James Lackey) for the possibility of putting a wheel under the Bewaeofthisaffair. In addition to possibly putting a wheel under the horse, once #4 cleared, there was the possibility of the driver throwing his head back in an attempt to impede the #1, which may have resulted in causing confusion which may have contributed to the #6 horse going off-stride. In the race, Lady's Art finished first while Bewareofthisaffair finished fourth.
After a brief review, the judges let the results stand and they were made official but the driver of the #4 was invited to visit with the judges to review the video of the race.
According to the stewards report for the fourth race:
Fourth Race Inquiry
The stewards posted the inquiry sign after viewing first place finisher #4 "Lady’s Art" (James Lackey) possibly interfere with rivals while racing on the first turn.
As a result of the judges reviewing the race with Mr. Lackey, the following ruling was made by the judges:
DRIVER JAMES LACKEY, WHO DROVE #4 "LADY’S ART" IN THE FOURTH RACE ON SATURDAY DECEMBER 22, 2012, IS HEREBY FINED THE SUM OF ONE HUNDRED ($100.00)* DOLLARS FOR VIOLATION OF CALIFORNIA HORSE RACING BOARD RULE #1721 (1) (COMMIT ANY ACT WHICH SHALL IMPEDE THE PROGRESS OF ANOTHER HORSE). VIOLATION OCCURRED PAST THE ¼ MILE MARKER.
As you can see, a $100 fine was assessed against Mr. Lackey for his actions in the race. We can argue about the amount of the fine being too small, but when you consider what the fines are at tracks with slot-fueled purses, the fine is not out of line. I have talked in the past about fines being too small but that has no bearing on this issue.
So what we have here is a case where the judges ultimately decided Mr. Lackey did in fact impede the progress of Bewareofthisaffair. I can accept the fact the judges may have felt there was no meaningful foul on December 22 when the race was contested but to their credit they decided to call Mr. Lackey in to review the race and then decided there was indeed interference.
That being said, if there was interference where Bewareofthisaffair needed to be checked and confusion was caused, shouldn't the judges been able to change the official order of the race to reflect the infraction?
I understand the owners of Lady's Art would not have been happy and probably would have appealed such a decision to change the placing but if results can be changed when a drug test comes back positive, shouldn't the judges be able to change the results when closer review showed an infraction did occur? After all, it is expensive to keep a horse in training and racing, shouldn't purses be paid to those who truly deserve it?
In the past, I have argued disqualifications for wagering purposes should only be done for blatant infractions with placings for purse purposes occurring afterwards. This case is a perfect example of why this should be permitted.