- Brad may have at various times jokingly (so he says) called me a whore [to the radical left] and a bitch, but I still like his blog Brad Buys A Yearling nonetheless. He recently linked to an interview with Michael Wrona, the track announcer at Bay Meadows and Golden Gate. Besides his frank comments on drugs in the sport, Wrona provided some details about the way the sport is conducted in his native Australia that I found no less than jaw-dropping. I’m going to quote here at length; it’s worth reading about how the racing authorities in Australia seem to have a lot more respect than us punters in the USA get here.
Apart from the obvious nationwide complaints of inconsistencies in disqualification rulings, American Stewards and, therefore, American racing lack the transparency of their Aussie counterparts. Down Under, there’s a “Stewards’ Report” issued on a daily basis. This details what action was taken concerning horses that suffered trouble and interference, including the dialogue between the Stewards and the jockeys (or a jockey’s translator). Also, horses that performed unexpectedly well or poorly are immediately investigated. Connections are quizzed, wagering patterns are scrutinized and vet reports are released. In Australia, the intention to change riding tactics must be advised and publicized prior to a race. Trainers scratching from feature races up until a couple of hours prior to post time – which happens in at least some states here – is simply not permissible in Australia. Neither are overweights of more than a couple of pounds; and suspensions never exclude “designated races.” Aussie punters would tear down the grandstand if there were announcements in the post parade about equipment changes and horses having been gelded. Such late announcements are commonplace here, and I feel thoroughly embarrassed every time I have to make them. [Love Da Goat]For one thing, there’d be a lot of investigations for unexpected performances here; probably could employ several hundred people. And the idea of say, Todd Pletcher letting us know “well, we’ll take Flower Alley far off the pace today” is almost unimaginable; in fact, that seems almost hard to believe. I’d like to know exactly what Wrona meant by that. What if Flower Alley broke well, a speed horse got left and the rider made a tactical decision to go for the lead?
- Monmouth is running behind on its new turf course, and it may not be ready until early July. But New Jersey racing officials have actually come up with a creative solution. They plan to cancel several early season dates, and instead run three all-turf programs at the Meadowlands in June , on Mondays, a day when Belmont is closed. Good thinking! Several years ago, they ran a grass race prior to a few harness cards and had an interbreed daily double, which was pretty cool, and I don’t know why they didn’t continue. With thoroughbred racing limited to six weeks in the fall, there’s no reason not to take advantage of a perfectly good turf course in June, and this seems like an excellent job of creating good out of some bad.
- Nice easy win for Steppenwolfer (Aptitude) at Oaklawn on Friday; add him to the Southwest Stakes coming up on the 20th.
- With the quarantine for equine herpesvirus lifted, 14 horses stabled at Pimlico have been accepted into the entries for Laurel’s races on Wednesday. They will be permitted to race barring any new cases of the virus developing. [Washington Post] (I’m actually a whore [to the Washington Post]; will do anything for a link.)