Dropping the Ball Again

by Ed Meyer

posted on November 8, 2021 in Breeders Cup, Handicapping, Horse Racing, WinningPonies.com | Comments Off on Dropping the Ball Again

Breeders’ Cup weekend is like your birthday, Christmas, and any day you hold holy in your heart. For horse players, gamblers, and even your Aunt Millie who likes to bet $2 to show on the favorite. It’s a powerhouse buffet of action.

Day #1 has always been good to me. No rhyme or reason, but just good. I always think of it as an afterthought and focus on Day #2. – But, it usually works in reverse for me. Not a clue why.

Anyone who knew me had heard for days how much I thought Charlie Appleby was going to have a great weekend. – A man who started at the bottom of racing and employed the old fashioned practice. Patience, time, and focusing on the horse first. Humble beginnings led to many great things.

An amateur jockey early in his days, and saddled his first big winner with Outstrip in the BC Juvenile Turf in 2013. He worked as an assistant trainer for Goldolphin for 15 years, and finally tapped as trainer in 2013. Quite a trip for a man of few words.

The first day of the Breeders’ Cup weekend was going well. Weather ordered to perfection, and the conditions were excellent.

He had two of the favorites entered in the Juvenile Turf, Modern Games and Albahr, slotted in the first two post positions. Modern Games reared up in the starting gate, and then Albahr panicked and also reared up before dropping under the gate. Albahr was scratched, and Modern Games, who was allowed to exit the gate through the front, was briefly scratched as well upon a veterinarian’s recommendation. Del Mar stewards then allowed Modern Games to run for purse money only after the fact.

OK, here’s the rub. – This was the biggest race of the day and when the vet makes a recommendation to the stewards. That is the protocol, and there is no back-and-forth discussing the situation, or why have the vet there at all making crucial decisions inches away from the horse?

The two was extricated from the gate and his number was taken off the starting gate. All normal procedures, except one. The #1 Modern Games number was on the screen and went blank meaning he was scratched. It was up for about 10 seconds, and taken off immediately. His gate number still on the starting gate. Now, this could have all been fixed with an additional 45 seconds and a quick announcement.

“Ladies and gentleman, #1 Modern Games will not be a part of the mutuel pool and will race for purse money only; with a complete announcement.” Fine and dandy, except he reared and possibly struck his head. No announcement, no quick explanation, and the gate broke and he took off running to turn for home to win. Glad for the connections, but with a short delay in explaining the process, bettors would have been informed. Gamblers are fickle to say the least, but without them they would be running for blue ribbons. But, no explanation was given and the powers that be acted in extreme haste.

This decision was ripped apart in every blog, social media blast, and even Facebook chat rooms. – Why even have him run if you thought there could have been a problem? That defeats the safety protocol in place. – Now, what if a possible injured horse running for purse money blocks, impedes, or cuts off your runner? You would have finished second and really got the win. But, in this case you were knocked a bit during the race and finished third. Now, how’s that rapid fire non-decision, no announcement feeling now? I just wanted to be the fella sweeping the floor with all of the thrown away tickets which actually were going to be a winner.

I seldom bitch out-loud, but this is a rare case. – I had the horse that was scratched properly, number taken off the gate, and out of the pools. No worries there. But, for the players who once again took it on the chin, how are they feeling after the stewards immediately cleaned this up after the fact with complete explanations. – Just the opposite before the gates opened. – If they would have taken the horses out, taken the numbers off the board, and gave a complete announcement I feel players would have understood. I’m not saying they all would have been happy campers, but at least the process would have been better explained. Biggest stage in racing, and the bettors took it on the chin once again.