27 July 2010

The Inquiry Sign Has NOT Been Placed On The Board

Apparently there are quite a few horsemen and Horseplayers alike talking about what happened in the fourth race at Woodbine last Thursday. I received a few emails on it as well.

It is pretty clear, just by watching the replay of the race that that the heavy favorite and subsequent winner, Fifty Proof, got a head start before the gates were opened for the other horses in the race. He should have been declared a non-starter.

Here is the video of the race:

In case the video wasn't conclusive enough, here is a head on picture of the start:

"Broke through the gate at the break":

It is the opinion of the few I have spoke with on this that there is no way the Stewards missed it (one of the first things they look at is the start of the race). This brings up the obvious question as to why the inquiry sign did not go up?

It was the first leg of the Pick 4, and over $45,000 was bet on it. If Fifty Proof was declared a non-starter, those holding live tickets off him would have been given the new favorite, and their tickets would be dead. This would have caused a lot of unrest amongst some bettors. Fifty Proof's scratch would have also necessitated in a refund of about $75,000. did that have something to do with it?

But the owner of the horse could have something to do with the non call. Kinghaven Farms is a partner on Fifty Proof. Perception is very important in horse racing, and even if this had nothing to do with the non call, it is hard to convince many horseman and Horseplayers, whom are skeptical by nature. Did the Stewards give former Chief Executive Officer David Willmot a going away present?

The race is now under appeal with the Ontario Racing Commission. I can't see the results standing.

UPDATE: Last year, August 15th Race 4, Indian Apple Is broke through the gate and got a head start. She was 1-5, the inquiry was called, and the horse was declared a non-starter.
UPDATE 2 The Stewards and John Leblanc, trainer of the 2nd finisher in the race met on Friday and the protest was denied. It was decided that no unfair advantage was gained by Fifty Proof. Huh? First off, that really shouldn't matter. In the Olympics if a runner starts before the gun goes off, a recall occurs. In other words, if a horse breaks through the gate, the horse should lose its right to compete for the prize and should be refunded.

And of course, what about consistency. How was this different that Indian Apple Is? And I also remember a few incidences when the gate was open even less, and the horse in question finished up the track, and a refund was given because the horse broke through the gate before the gate officially opened.

UPDATE 3: This case will go to the ORC for appeal. With precedence in place, I can't see the results standing. Doesn't help the bettors of the 2nd finisher for their win tickets, exactors, Pick 3's and Pick 4, etc.

Another question, in the short time between the finish of the race and the time the official sign went up, how did the Stewards determine that there was no unfair advantage gained by Fifty Plus without even an Inquiry? And again, the fact that the horse broke out before the rest of the field should be deemed an unfair advantage.....end of story.

UPDATE 4: How can the Stewards argue against the ORC Rulebook?
11.16 A horse is a starter for all purposes of the Rules when the stall doors of the starting gate open in front of it at the time the starter dispatches the horses in a valid start.

Fifty Proof was not a starter by ORC rules.  The gate did not open for Fifty Proof when the starter dispatched the horses, but before. and it didn't open in front of the horse at the time the starter dispatched the horses either.


According to a release at the ORC web site, Fort Erie will race quarter horses on three Saturdays in October. Also, a make-up date of Saturday October 23 has been added to the thoroughbred schedule. On that last weekend, post times have been changed from 1:30 PM to 12:30 PM.

The Prince of Wales was a very exciting race. Announcer Peter Kyte's exuberance has triggered a thread on Pace Advantage.

I couldn't have picked the winner, Golden Moka, in a gazillion years. Not the way I handicap. Horses making their first start after a long layoff in a Stake races of over a mile are automatic pitches for me. They don't win very often, and I'm still sticking with my rules the next time a situation like this happens.

Either Golden Moka is special, or the competition was was sub par. I guess we will find out pretty soon which is the case.

On track handle was off about 2% from last year, but handle from other sources was down over 20%. Saratoga starting up early could be part of the blame, and of course racing is down this year collectively too, but it is possible that more and more Horseplayers have become aware of the high takeouts Fort Erie dings the public with.

The Ontario Racing Commission wants public input on proposed rule changes. Click here to view them.


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* Listing of prior race scratches, including reason
* A simple one page “In to go” list for jockeys, trainers and horses
* Highest Equibase Speed Figure earned added to the horse’s summary stats
* Direct link to Equibase for late scratches and changes
* Expanded conditional trainer stats
* Added statistics for the prior trainer when there is a trainer change'

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