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Thursday, May 26, 2005

Dominguez "Incompetent?"

- Paul Moran of Newsday won’t let go of his contention that jockey Ramon Dominguez was at fault for causing the near-spill in the Preakness, and actually goes further, calling the rider's performance "incompetent." Personally, I’m not taking a stance on this either way right now. (I do, however, disagree with his contention that Scrappy T could have won the race, or at least made it tough on the winner; it seemed obvious that Alex was going right on by before the incident.) I’ve already heard from reader Jolene, who disagrees that the jockey was at fault. Check out Moran though; this seems like a pretty extreme view by one of several columnists who’ve been pretty cranky since the Derby result. I’d be interested in hearing what others think.

The first surprise was Dominguez's decision to hit Scrappy T at precisely the moment at which he would be expected to change leads. You do not see riders hitting horses who are running forward at this point, and if he was bearing out, the logical tactic would have been to put the whip in the right hand before delivering the blow.

Not only did Dominguez hit the horse, but he wound up, using a bizarre windmill delivery seldom seen outside a county fair meeting, to deliver a blow with the greatest possible force. It was struck not on the flank or shoulder but on the side, the most tender part of the anatomy that can be reached with the whip.

Scrappy T has a history of bearing out at precisely that point. He did so in his previous race, the Withers Stakes. Norberto Arroyo Jr., who rode him at Aqueduct that day, did not deliver a blow to the body, maintained control and won the race. Dominguez, failing to take note of Scrappy T's tendencies, was obviously unprepared. Preparation separates top jockeys from people such as Dominguez, who said he was taken by surprise. His performance in the Preakness was nothing less than incompetent, which brings us to the third surprise.

The beauty of being a steward in Maryland is that people are paying attention only one day a year. So, rather than concern themselves with suspensions, hearings and appeals, the Pimlico stewards decided Dominguez would be held blameless for the incident and that there would be no suspension for careless riding. Obviously, they determined that delineation exists between careless and incompetent and that incompetence is within the rules. [Newsday]
- Magna’s Dennis Mills had his meeting with Maryland House Speaker Busch, and emerged saying “I sense a great hope after speaking with the speaker." [Bloodhorse] But Busch, speaking of the prospect for the special legislative session that would be necessary to pass any new law before January, said "The people of Maryland expect us to do our work in 90 days. They don't expect us to come down here in a special session at a cost of $45,000 a day to help out one industry," He continues to hammer the theme that Magna should be seeking ways to make the industry more competitive without slots, which is easy for him to say.
Del. Anthony J. O'Donnell, the minority whip from Calvert County, said Marylanders are upset about the uncertain future of the state's horse racing industry. He said Busch is out of step if he believes that some solution other than slots can save the Preakness.

"If you do something else, that's not going to stem the flow of hundreds of millions of dollars out of the state every year to Delaware and West Virginia and Pennsylvania," O'Donnell said. [Baltimore Sun]
- I love the 3 PM “Sunset Racing” at Belmont and try to sneak away to make it for at least part of the card as much as possible. Haven’t been there yet this meet mostly because the weather has sucked. Belmont is not a very pleasant place when it’s chilly; the temperature seems a good 10-15 degrees colder there than the outside world. There’s little protection anywhere in the plant from the nippy breezes. Just wait until the Breeders Cup on Oct 29, which is at least a good week or two after the meeting usually ends. By the time the so-called “Fall Championship Meet” ends (I’m not sure if they even call it that anymore; it’s long become merely a series of preps for the Breeders Cup), I’m more than ready for the Big A.

Anyway, with tomorrow being the Friday before the holiday weekend, I’ll be off early and free to go, and I was extremely excited. Until I looked at the card. It blows. Short fields, especially on the dirt, continue to plague this meeting, and that’s not usual for the early part of the meet. At this rate, we could be seeing $20,000 claiming match races by mid-July. The five dirt races have a total of 31 betting interests, and the featured turf race has 6. And to make matters worse, it’s rained all week, the turf races are off today and I suppose questionable for tomorrow especially with more showers in the forecast. Yuck. If it’s a nice day and the simulcast menu looks decent, I’ll still consider going. Otherwise it should be a nice afternoon for a museum.

1 Comment:

twba said...

Dominguez handled the whip like it was the first race at Hualapai Downs not the Preakness. He is a bonehead.