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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Pick Six DQ Justified

- Over $1.6 million was up for grabs amongst the three Pick Six carryover pools on Wednesday. All three of them were hit, but the most dramatic conclusion took place at Belmont Park. What looked on paper like a daunting task turned into a parade of favorites: 3-1, 4-5, 6-5, 4-5, 2-1. So when Our Top Cat, the 3-1 second choice in the 9th, held off 19-1 Karakorum Tornado in the 9th, a lot of people - around 225, based on my rough calculation - were set to collect a relatively easy $1,389 from the pool of $419,572.

But the inquiry sign went up. In a case like this, you'll sometimes hear people at the track say 'oh, they won't take down the favorite,' especially when there's a lot of money at stake in a case like this. But Our Top Cat was indeed DQ'd. Ed Fountaine, writing in the NY Post, called it "borderline" but I don't agree, and a look at the head-on shot (which you can see on Cal Racing) shows why. With Cornelio Velasquez aboard, the horse opened up a three length lead midstretch as the rider whipped him right handed. But then he switched to his left hand, and Our Top Cat immediately shied from the whip and drifted out sharply. Instead of switching back, Velasquez continued to hit him left handed, again and again, and each time the horse reacted and continued to drift to the middle of the track. Fountaine writes that Karakorum Thunder probably wasn't going to get by anyway. That may or may not be the case, but regardless, I thought that the stewards, who probably did indeed require a solid reason to disqualify the winner in this case, had no choice. The jockey persisted in whipping the horse even as he continued to bear out, and I think that he's looking at days in this case.

John Velazquez, in his chat session on, was questioned about the practice of whipping. He responded:

"The whip is needed and we use it when it is necessary. In the case of safety, we need whips to keep the horses in as straight a line as possible and to avoid injury to themselves and riders. For example, I rode a horse recently who bolted to the outside fence. The only thing that prevented him from jumping or hitting the outside fence was my whip." [Bloodhorse]
In this case, the rider did not use the whip to straighten his mount; and in fact exacerbated a bad situation by repeatedly using it in a way that caused crowding and a possible dangerous situation. So, sorry to anyone who was adversely affected, but I think the DQ was totally justified. The Pick Six with the 19-1 winner on top instead returned $14,026 to far fewer bettors than it would have had the order of finish not been reversed.


Anonymous said...

I agree 100% with your DQ assessment. The only reason I can think of that CV kept hitting his horse left-handed was to prevent the other horse from catching him. Mr. Fountaine is way off base on this one.

Did you see where GW finished 4th in his return race? Wondering if he's missing the fillies.

Anonymous said...

I didn't see the DQ but I wanted to comment on Johnny V.'s quote. I understand that the whip may have some beneficial aspects but I think, in American racing at least, there is a lot of questionable whip use and in some cases it is used way too much.

I cannot count the number of times I've seen horses 5-6-7 lengths clear in the stretch and seeing their jockeys going to town with the whip. A prime example of questionable whip use was by Borel (and believe me I'm a Borel fan)in the Preakness. If you watch the replay once Street Sense passes Hard Spun Borel seems to go nuts with the whip. Personally, I think that was a contributing factor to his loss but that is a debate for another day.

My opinion is that American jockeys rely on the whip too much. I believe that their should be a maximum number of times a jockey should be allowed to whip his horse. I know that in England a jockey can only hit their horse a certain number of times and that they cannot raise the whip above their shoulders. I think a regulation similar to this would allow the jockey to maintain their safety, get a horse to respond if need be, and additionally it protects the horse.

Anonymous said...

I lost both the P4 and the conso 5 of 6 on the DQ.

There is no doubt in my mind the contact warranted a DQ and the horrible ride a suspension. Ny beef is with Corny V, not with the stewards, horrible use of the whip, should have switched back to the right hand once the horse started bearing out. He was in the eight path!

The only question, and the reason I think it took so long to adjudicate, was whethar the final and most severe contact occured before or after the finish line.

It was very close and needless to say I was rooting that the steward let it stand, but I can not argue with the decision.

Mr. Ed

Anonymous said...

I thank God everyday for Johnny V's exhorbitant use of the whip on 55-1 Invisible Ink in the '01 Kentucky Derby to get him up for 2nd by a desparate nose in the final stride over Congaree. I'm convinced that those last few smacks were the difference between my biggest lifetime score and a brutal miss.

All kidding aside, I think concern about the whip is absurd. Most horsemen and jockeys love these horses and would never abuse them for the sake of abusing them. That said, they race for money, and if a crack of the whip is the difference between the winners check and second money, they're going to go to the whip (Mike Smith on Tiago in the SA Derby for instance). Whip use is abusive in the minds of humans, but the evidence shows that its not very often abusive to the horses. If it were, there'd be a lot more DQ's like in the Belmont race, where obviously, the horse was shying away from contact.