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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


At the Jockey Club Round Table this morning in Saratoga, Kim Kelly, the chief steward of The Hong Kong Jockey Club, discussed the benefits of the category 1 interference rule, explaining that for whatever the reason worthy of inquiry–from interference, to race riding, to underperforming and over-performing (hmm) horses—issues are addressed on race day. Jockeys are called before the stewards immediately following the incident at hand.

Agree in principle with this approach except for the most significant issue, adjudicating fouls. I understand that there is more clarity when the standard is that a foul is a foul is a foul. Here’s what’s vexing: This is not brain surgery nor rocket science. Common sense and 20-20 vision is all that is required, providing consistency is applied. The problem isn’t the rule; it’s incompetency.

Also approve with the thinking that transparency is the overarching factor that will restore horseplayer confidence. Allowing the public to understand what the judges are seeing, and the reasoning applied to their decision-making, would make all the difference. The current rule is fine. What is needed is judging all riders by the same standard, not via a horse racing version of the Jordan Rules.

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3 Responses

  1. Brown, Pletcher, Asmussen, and Baffert receive preferential treatment from stewards, as do the trainers in most stake races; I believe this is the result of racetrack management being fearful that these so-called ‘super trainers’ if DQ’d would not enter their blue bloods in future stake races at their track – a perfect example of the tail wagging the dog. Far more disqualifications occur in lower level horse races, not because of there being more of these races but from the stewards not being pressured by management.

  2. I prefer the Euro standard of if a horse “fouls” a horse he was going to beat anyway, his number stays up.

    Under this system, Maximum Standard would be the Kentucky Derby champion, which he is in the minds of many fans.

  3. Under Category 1, Maximum Security would have been the official Derby winner. However, the gentleman at the Jockey Club Round Table conference who proposed that MS would have stayed up, based on CAT 1, is that no horse was going to beat him. I would argue with him all day long.

    WOW recovered to make a bid in upper stretch to reach near even terms. My point is that no observer could know for sure that he would not have beaten MS on the square had the incident not occurred. To fair minded people, this was not a situation that was cut and dried.

    My point? It still can come down to a matter of opinion.

    Meanwhile, how many more 7-day suspensions does Luis Saez need to get before being recognized for his rough race riding? I can’t decide if he’s the Paco Lopez of New York, or whether Lopez is the Saez on NJ.

    One thing I would love to see? Category 1 rules as applied to Desormeaux not riding horses out to the finish. If he were in Hong Kong, he’d probably spend about a third of the racing season on the ground.

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