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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing

SPA DIARY, ABRIDGED VERSION: THE ONE THOUSAND AND SECOND WAY TO LOSE A BET

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL, July 28, 2021 – This is how my Saratoga week started, hand to the Almighty:

The Mean Queen, an accomplished mare vs. males and favored at 3-5, had just opened a clear lead approaching headstretch, in complete command of the Jonathan Kiser Memorial Novice Stakes.

Think classified allowances for the up-and over set.

As the mare approached midstretch she was now almost five in front, when I said to my wife, Toni:

“You know they eliminated the stretch-fence at the end of a race. Maybe the thinking was that since steeplechasers don’t always clear their hurdles, they wouldn’t want an accident to happen right in front of the fans, erring on the side of caution.…

I barely completed the sentence when, ducking from what appeared to be a superfluous right-handed stroke of the crop, the mare ducked in sharply at a point where she had to avoid the cone or would have left the course and would be disqualified.

Jockey Thomas Garner tried to correct her but it all happened so fast and, with the urgency of avoiding the cone, he tried but couldn’t keep his balance, was thrown and riderless, The Mean Queen was “disqualified” anyway.

What I didn’t have a chance to tell Toni and that I get it but don’t like the idea of eliminating the final-stretch jump because it takes some of the sport of steeplechasing and it makes it easier for faster flat horses to win.

As it turned out, a horse can clear all the hurdles and still lose—at 3-5 yet. The good news is that horse and rider ultimately returned safely.

Yodel A. E. Who

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2 Responses

  1. Hey John! Was just walking into the track and listening to the call when I told my brother, Mike, the 6 horse has a 7-length lead and then …. as you said, a thousandth and second way to lose. Still great to be back here in the flesh. Nothing like Saratoga no matter the results! Stay well.

  2. Good for you Stephen, have a great time! Planning to cover the Travers and looking forward for sure. Stay safe.

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