- An anonymous commenter, referring to the death of Indian Flare on Sunday, asks: Whip abuse in the Ballerina? Paul Moran, writing on Newsday's At The Races blog, agrees:
With the filly he rode while setting a blistering pace -- :22.27, :44.57 – for a half mile spent after five furlongs, Javier Castellano repeatedly whipped Indian Flare between the quarter and sixteenth poles... This was unnecessary and cruel. Indian Flare was going nowhere. The whip is not a form of punishment and Castellano should be standing in front of the stewards on Monday. [At The Races]Moran actually goes further, and questions the instant diagnosis of a broken pelvis by track vet Anthony Verderosa, noting that the filly ran straight and true until tiring, and questioning how he could make that diagnosis unless he's gifted with x-ray vision. The term cardio-vascular shock casts a wide net.
But even without the conspiracy theory (and without necessarily discounting it, conspiracy theorist that I can sometimes be), I did consult the head-on replay (as usual, I'll refer you to Cal Racing), and regrettably must report that the jockey was indeed whipping the filly long after she was done, and even as she was nearly back to last as far as I can tell from that angle. I say 'regrettably' because I generally give these guys the benefit of the doubt when questions of judgment arise. And because, while I've never met Castellano, I've always thought him to be quite an agreeable sort based on my observations of his interactions with others on the backstretch and in the paddock.
In the case of Russell Baze, he obviously screwed up when he whipped his wounded mount late in the game. But a guy doesn't win a zillion races like he has without a burning competitive spirit, and I think we clearly saw that get the better of common sense. He deserves his suspension, but one can at least get a sense of what was going on in his head. But in the case of Indian Flare, I have no idea what the rider was thinking, and there doesn't seem to be any way to rationalize it at all.