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Thursday, April 21, 2016

What Were They Thinking?

This past Tuesday night at Pocono Downs, there was a race which requires an explanation from the judges.  However, before we discuss the issue, here are a couple of screen captures worth looking at.

Here is a picture of the starting gate going around the first turn before the start of the race in Race 5.

Starting gate in approaching the first turn prior to a start at Pocono Downs in their 5th race on April 19, 2016.

Notice how the starting gate is fully deployed, waiting for the horses to catch up with the gate.  Now, let's look at a picture of the starting gate from the next race.

Starting gate approaching the first turn prior to a start at Pocono Downs in their 6th race on April 19, 2016.

In the 6th race, something is clearly wrong as the starting gate wing for the outside posts didn't fully extend.  For all practical purposes, this is the way the gate was when the field was released on the backstretch.

Why was a recall not called before the field was released and failing that, why wasn't the race declared 'no-contest''?  Clearly the outside horses had an unfair advantage if they decided to leave once the gate opened as it was never fully deployed.

Well, a conversation from a trusted source with the judges the following day indicated the judges in the stand noticed the problem and attempted to communicate to the starter so presumably a recall would be sounded.  However, the starter was supposedly busy with I Wonder Why, who hit the gate in the later run up to the race so the judges' call was never acknowledged, prior to the start.

According to the judge, they let the results stand because they felt it didn't provide anyone an advantage .  Well,, two of the outside horses left (#8 I Wonder Why and #6 Art Frenzy) and I Wonder Why ran out of the money after cutting the first half of the mile, with Art Frenzy  tracking the leader to take the lead when I Wonder Why quit and went on to win the race.

My question is if the judges saw something they felt was necessary to communicate with the starting judge about a possible recall, why was it not significant enough to call a 'no contest' when the race went off without the gate being fixed?  It should be noted there was no inquiry.  Sounds like inconsistent judging to me.

The judges are responsible with protecting the wagering public.  Whether or not it impacted the final outcome of the race, the fact is the outside horses had an unfair advantage.  If this was a thoroughbred race and the six, seven, and eight got released a little earlier than the others at the start, something would have been done about it, likely in the name of the horses being scratched.

The bettors who support Pocono Downs are entitled to an explanation.  Something like this should never happen again


Marv said...

Accountability is an issue. Who are the stewards accountable to? What's worse is that there are usually 3 of them. And whether you agree with the calls they make or not, they should be required to (and they used to) give an explanation of their calls over the live track feed. Transparency is paramount.

JLB said...

Pocono racing is a joke, and this just adds to the jokebook. Obscenely high takeouts on most wagers, and trainers who have been banned elsewhere combine to make this track a "must-avoid". And judging by the anemic handles, serious horseplayers agree.

Anonymous said...

Upset bettors could complain to the harness racing commission, but good luck. There are no members left. Pennsylvania will soon have just one commission to supervise all racing.

Bobby Z said...

Glad I no longer have to watch or bet races at Pokie. It is where the judges clearly could not see a breaking Emily Do back a few years in April. Emily Do should have been charted with a break but was not and in the next race went off at odds on and broke passed the half. Add t that another break the following week that should have been his qualifying race week due to two breaks in succession. At Pocono or at PA tracks in general, one takes their gamble just placing a bet.

Anonymous said...

There is plenty to complain about the way Pocono is run, but JLB says, "And judging by the anemic handles, serious horseplayers agree." What equals anemic? Handles this year range from about $350,00 to $650,000 depending on the day and the number of races. How much does a track have to handle to be worth betting and what tracks meet that standard?

Pacingguy said...

Whether it is $26 bet on a race at Thunder Ridge or $300,000 bet at the Meadowlands, handicappers deserve to be treated fairly. The size of the handle doesn't matter. Screwed enough, the horseplayer won't be around for long.

Anonymous said...

There's no disagreement on the Pocono topic you started and many other things that just don't seem right with the way things operate there.

I'm trying to figure out what size handle at Pocono or any other track is considered acceptable to a bettor. Looking for an answer, especially from JLB, and any others. Also, what tracks have a handle that meets those levels?