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Saturday, September 6, 2014

Another Starting Gate Mishap

Catching up with some news from earlier in the week, there is controversy regarding the 9th race on Monday, September 1 at Mohawk where heavy rain made the track slippery, slippery to the point where the starting gate started sliding as it was getting ready to release the field.  Take a look at the race yourself.

The judges decided only the inside three horses were not impeded and declared all the others for parimutuel purposes non-starters and ordered refunds (marking it the only time in history I feel safe to say that the 1st, 2nd, and 7th place finishers made up the winning Trifecta combination)..

As for safety, at least it wasn't the debacle at Freehold where horses and drivers ran into the starting gate on an icy track but it is clear these days starting gate cars are having problems in adverse weather conditions.  Perhaps exploring the use of studs on tires may prevent swerving.  But the decision to let the race continue seems questionable.

With the swerve, you could argue the inside three horses had an advantage as the gate moved ahead of the normal position which make sense if the others were interfered by the starting gate swinging back.  While the ORC rules allowed for what happened regarding refunds and letting the race go on, a 'no contest' ruling would have been more appropriate.

More upsetting is what happened to the Pick-3 players.   I would like to know why a horse scratched in the 8th race was considered part of  a winning Pick-3 yet only the winner of the 9th race was considered part of the winning ticket?  By ordering refunds, weren't those horses in effect scratched?  While the payoff would have been paltry, it seems the payoff for the Pick-3 should have been 1/1,9/1,4,5,6,7,8 instead of 1/1,9/1.  Bettors deserve a bettor answer why a horse who has a refunded ordered is not treated the same as a scratch in the Pick-x wagers.  At a minimum, as in daily doubles, there should have been a consolation Pick-3.

The USTA and Standardbred Canada need to investigate the safety of starting cars in adverse weather.  In the meanwhile, the ORC and the CPMA need to review their rules in these types of situations.

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