Saturday, November 5, 2011

Don't Scratch My Cheval

Last evening before the filly and mare turf, French filly Announce acted like a punch drunk welterweight, got a little spooked, hit the rail, and brushed by (ironically) an ambulance.

She seemed fine, but according to the ESPN telecast she had some scrapes and was scratched by the track vet.

I don't know much French, but when they showed the jock and trainer, we didn't need to. They spoke the international language of 'smoke flying out of ones ears'. They were incensed.

This, in my opinion, is what happens when you pile bad policy on top of bad policy. Since the Life at Ten mess, racing came back with a response to any and everything in these situations (while ignoring the connections), so they don't have another one, instead of fixing a problem that was not that difficult to fix.

It appears what we had was a horse who might have had a scrape or two, being scratched, with no trainer consultation. This, right before a race for megabucks, with residual breeding values based on the result; not to mention a plane ride worth ten K, friends and family and everyone else making the trip, and gosh knows what else to make it happen.

If I went through all that and you scratched my horse for what might be a scrape or two - especially without letting me know -  I'd be pissed too. I think we all would.

I'm just a small horse owner and a dumb bettor, but I see no reason why what we wrote here on the blog last year ("The Way We Handle Scratches in Mayfield") after the Life at Ten incident is not workable.

The lines of communication must be set, consistent and open, and the protocol for scratching should be clear to all Breeders Cup participants. The responsibility for a final say on scratching (and any malfeasance for not scratching), must reside with the trainer. This is the World Series of Racing, not the third at Mountaineer.

Putting a vet in that situation in such a huge race with so much at stake, is simply not acceptable. It's unfair to everyone involved and a lawsuit waiting to happen.

Maybe Announce needed to be scratched, but there has to be a better way to ensure the connections are respected.

The commissions last year decided things like disallowing interviews before the race (that's forward thinking in a social media world), or blaming Jon Veitch, helped "solve" the problem. When much of what you are worried about is public relations focused, you don't get at the root problem. There are consequences for that inaction.

This year, the victim of it might be a French trainer, jock and horse owner. It's a long flight home, on what was supposed to be a weekend to remember. And we don't have to speak French to know it.

Update: Although it has no effect on the point of the post - connections need to be consulted to avoid problems - thankfully the connections (after the race) agreed with the decision.


M said...

Announce required stitches, and Juddmonte's racing manager agreed she should've been scratched. In my neck of the woods, if a horse falls or breaks skin in any way before a race, it's an auto-scratch. I think it's the right thing to do, and erring on the side of caution is better on a big day like the BC anyways.

That Blog Guy said...

Perhaps they need to learn something from the standardbreds. On a dicey situation, let the horse race for purse money only and not for wagering. But of course they should have consulted the trainer first.

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