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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


There was a bang bang play yesterday at Saratoga yesterday that resulted in a disqualification.

We thought it was the correct call because the bump occurred at a critical spot, right at the line, with the guilty “race-rider” insisting on a left-handed whip, a contributing factor.

In the stewards opinion, and mine, it was a correct, just call.

Today the circumstances were almost identical in that there was a clear aggressor. The first-place finisher bore in and caused a rival to check his mount between horses as the inside rider maintained a straight course.

But this was a race that needed more of a common sense application of the rules.

Unlike, say, the KY Derby, when no one could know for certain whether a fouled, resurgent rival could re-rally and win, it appeared Derby Memories was never going to finish better than third, weakening at the point of contact.

If the stewards were trying to send a message to Tyler Gaffalione, the rider of the disqualified “winner,” they achieved that goal. Whether justice was served, however, is another matter.

Unlike, yesterday, it wasn’t as if Gaffalione can be accused of taking a “race-riding” advantage. He was simply rolling by with momentum on the outside and, as often happens, horses lug in as they move passed midstretch rivals.

If safety guided their decision; so be it, a horse was bothered and Grit and Glory should have been steadied and straightened, even at the cost of victory. But justice should also prevail. In this case, in our view, it wasn’t.

Sometimes, calls can go either way; this was one of those occasions.

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