The Gulfstream DQ's & Non DQ's Were (Unfortunately) Consistent

You probably watched the races from Gulfstream on Saturday. Although the headlines were dominated by the Fountain of Youth disqualification of Upstart, there were two other stewards decisions on the same card. Mike Watchmaker made some proclamations about those decisions.
Earlier on, he wrote that "consistency was needed for the GP stewards".

I understand where Mike is coming from, and I bet you do too, but I think there's a problem with that.  The three rulings were not the same infractions; they were three separate, different racing incidents, which exemplify how difficult the sport is to judge consistently. And if we look at the facts, I don't think they were judged inconsistently at all.

In race 4 you had a horse on the outside, who looked like a pretty clear winner (the horse was getting clear and decelerating slower than the two inside foes), cut off the five horse (at 22-1) who ended up coming second.

In the Fountain of Youth you had a horse on the outside (the eventual winner after DQ) moving forward and getting within about a half a length of Upstart. Then suddenly, Upstart swerves out under the left handed stick, crosses over directly in front of him, and four strides later is a length and a half ahead of Itsaknockout.

In the last we had a two horse affair, with a little bit of bumping and herding, which happens almost every tenth or eleventh race in this sport.

In the fourth, the judges applied a long held tenet of judging. "If the horse that committed the supposed infraction ran straight, would he or she have still won easily? If the offended horse was allowed to run straight, would he or she have won the race, or did it cost him or her a placing?" In that case (if you rewatch the race) the winner does appear to be able to win, with or without a DQ, and the offended horse probably would've come second, and did come second, if given a straight path. Therefore, I could see this call being made, and I think 95% of the time it would be called exactly as it was.

In the Fountain of Youth we had something different occur. This time it was not a horse with all the momentum cutting off another horse who appeared to be struggling, it was the inside horse cutting off a charging horse. If Upstart raced in a straight line and did not cross over into Itsaknockout, would he have still won? If Itsaknockout was allowed a straight path, would he have won? I don't know, and I'm sure you don't; it's clearly a judgement call, as it is with all horses charging on the outside. Maybe Upstart would've found more, maybe Itsaknockout could've outstaggered him to the wire. He certainly was moving up on him, and in those cases these horses usually do go by. Again, a fairly consistent call based on the tenet.

In the last race, in my view we have the scourge of this sport. A jockey coming out on a horse with all the momentum and doing the obligatory bumping to stop his momentum. It's a jockey trick that is used constantly, it's bad for this sport and is such a blatant infraction it should be a DQ 100% of the time. But if you're asking for consistency, well, the stewards at Gulfstream were pretty consistent here, as well. I'd say about 30% of the time this is called an infraction, and 70% of the time it's called "mutual bumping" or "things that happen in the stretch" with 1,000 pound tired animals.

You and I and thousands of other fans and bettors will not agree on every call made, because they are subjective. It's the way the sport was in 1915, 1955 and is in 2015. But we do ask for some consistency, and if you look at those three calls dispassionately, with cold, hard, ugly logic, and with the history of such calls at Gulfstream, the stewards, in my view, were fairly consistent.

1 comment:

AndyA said...

Watchmaker is wrong in that House Rules finished second and the incident (and he was fouled)did not cost him a placing by a nose. The Stewards used the did not "alter the order of finish" language in their finding.

He is right that Upstart should have stayed up. Although the foul was much more dramatic it did not likely cost Itsaknockout a placing. The did not use the "altered the order of finish" language in that ruling and I wonder why.

In the last the video head on shows that the 8 came out at least twice bumping with the 7. If the Stewards had a different view and it was mutual then they are right. But from the head ons we have and because the 7 lost by a nose there should have been a DQ because it did alter the order of finish.

Some might say that the rule is different in Florida but if it is then why did they use the excuse in the House Rules Race?


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