- Just at the time where the industry should be reveling in the performance of Bellamy Road in the Wood, once again, controversy is putting a damper on things, and once again it comes from California. Now there are reports that Sweet Catomine never did make the trip to the hospital for her foot problem, as her owner Marty Wygod had claimed.
George Slender, a Santa Anita steward, said there were reports that Sweet Catomine-hadn't been moved at all, and that this was one of the issues state investigators were addressing. Slender said he didn't expect the full report to be available until Wednesday. [Lexington Herald-Leader]Why the owner would make this claim if it wasn’t true isn’t clear to me at all. Meanwhile, Canani still continues to hold to the just-one-of-those-things excuse for her performance in the race.
"Sometimes horses, even very good ones, throw in a clinker, for no reason…..I think that's what happened with this filly. We scoped her [for bleeding] and found nothing. She ate up after the race. I can't give a reason for why she didn't run her race." [LA Times]There was a report in the Form by Jay Privman on April 6 that mentioned her foot, but it really only said that she threw a shoe.
According to Canani, Sweet Catomine dislodged that shoe on Tuesday night. Canani said Sweet Catomine was scheduled to be shod on all four hooves on Wednesday afternoon. He said he did not want to reset her left rear shoe for training on Wednesday, then pull it off and put a new plate on Wednesday afternoon.Privman reported after the race that when asked specifically about the filly's condition, neither owner nor trainer said anything about any problems.
"Don't worry," he said. "She's okay. She'll gallop the rest of the week." [Daily Racing Form]
This would be worthy of an investigation even if Wygod and Canani had kept their mouths shut, but not only did they not do that, they seemed to go out of their way to hype the filly, and express outrage that no one seemed to respect her, comments that had gotten them on my nerves last week even before all of this came to light.
I personally can’t really generate that much sympathy for those who bet the filly at 4-5, nor especially for those who bet her in the Oaks Futures Pool even after Wygod insisted she wouldn’t run there. While his statement doesn’t mean much in the light of his subsequent comments, those were just plain bad bets to me. That should not, of course, mitigate nor excuse the deception that apparently took place, and we’ll look forward to the CHRB’s report.
- How ironic that Jeff Mullins ended up winning the race, since the whole “idiots” incident started when a columnist asked him exactly how much information the public is entitled to. The fact is, we never know if a horse bled after a workout or had a minor foot problem; and I’m sure she’s not the only filly to have competed in a race while in heat, even though it’s something I personally don’t recall ever reading about. And even if the Form adds a little burning bush symbol to indicate that, there will always be little things that happen that we don’t know, and that it’s just not possible or practical to report. We’ll never know how a horse ate up during the week, or if he/she just woke up on the wrong side of the stall the day of a race. Perhaps some sharpies at the track noticed that Sweet Catomine was sluggish in the warm-ups….but in the simulcasting era, most bettors don’t have access to such visual clues. I’m afraid that, even while pressuring the industry to provide us more relevant information, we must do the best with the information we have, which is tons more than ever (and imagine trying to handicap with the scant information the Europeans have in their pp’s.) It is gambling, after all.
Having said that though, there’s no excuse for Wygod and Canani touting their filly while knowing she'd had a troubled week, and I hope the CHRB is also investigating any role that track officials, who were alerted to the possibility of a scratch, may have had in trying to preserve the story line that drew over 38,000 to the track. Magna official Ron Charles, as quoted by Tim Sullivan in the San Diego Union Tribune, said:
"The way it was said to me, it seemed as if I had the feeling they were going to race, but there was the possibility that they were going to go right up till today [Saturday] before they made their final decision. I was comfortable with that."And I'm still looking for the comments regarding problems that Wygod claims he made on NBC. Anyone hear that?
That makes one of us. [SignonSanDiego]
- Of Mullins, Orange County Register columnist Steve Bisheff notes:
And in a classic example of conflict of interest, the owner of Buzzards Bay, the guy who hired Mullins, is Bill Bianco, who just happens to be one of the seven commissioners of the California Horse Racing Board, the group that rules on issues [milkshaking] such as the one involving the trainer.
And you're wondering why people say this sport is basically on life support? [Orange County Register]