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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Aqueduct Notes

I don't know about that DQ in the second at the Big A on Wednesday. Sure, Run to Grand Ave., who had a nightmare trip from the start, lugged in and brushed Stormin Bud, but the contact didn't seen that severe; in fact, I didn't detect anything amiss watching the race from the pan shot the first time. The offended horse barely broke stride, and didn't appear to be nearly impeded enough to have made a difference in the result. I don't usually disagree with the NYRA stewards on these things, but this one seemed kinda weak. Tough break for trainer Bruce Levine, continuing his Belmont success with a couple of winners from his first eight starters at the Big A, including the impressive Nashua winner Buddy's Saint (who was taken down himself in his debut and was thus winning a Grade 2 stakes as a maiden).

Buddy's Saint earned a Beyer of 101, and is headed for the two-turn Remsen on the Cigar Mile card. He's from the only crop of the ill-fated Saint Liam, one of 98 foals. I thought it was his first stakes winner, but, as a dead stallion, he doesn't get a Stallion Register page.'s Maiden Watch wrote on Nov 2 that his 44 runners have made 100 total starts, recording 12 wins, 8 seconds, 16 thirds, and $468,211. And a peek at the rookie sire list shows that he ranks #11 on the rookie sire list (and that he has two stakes winners, so there you go).

"I bought him with two turns in mind," Levine told the Form; his next start will be the mile and an eighth Remsen on Cigar Mile day. Buddy's Saint is out of Tuzia, a stakes winning Blushing John mare who's a half sister to the 2003 Preakness runner-up Midway Road. And this is the distaff family of the multiple Grade 1 winning Island Fashion, who took the Alabama, also in 2003. Levine said the owner "won't sell," but we'll see if he romps in the Remsen. Personally, I think you gotta be nuts, or very very rich, to not cash out at this stage if you can.

- Just as it's usually easy to see good things in the past performances of horses after they win, so too can you sometimes look at a prohibitive favorite who ran awful and say "what were they thinking?" I believe you can say that about Sky's the Limit, an unbelievable .55-to-1 in his first race against winners in the 8th. Classic case here of the public going overboard on a well-bred horse coming off a maiden win with a gaudy Beyer. Except that this one's not that well-bred - the son of Sky Mesa sold for half his stallion's $30K stud fee at sale; and his Beyer, though solid at 94, hardly outclassed this field. Rodman ($12.60) had missed by just a nose at this level in his last with a 92; he is the third winner in four starts at the Big A for trainer Mike Hushion. This barn had a hot Saratoga and a chilly Belmont, but started heating up towards the end of the latter and is now 6-2-1 with his last 14, and both of those seconds were by a head.


wmcorrow said...

In regard to the DQ in the 2nd race. IMO, and it should be a golden rule followed by stewards, if a horse does not maintain a straight path and bumps other horses a foul has been committed; whether the horse would have won anyway is irrelevant. This is a rare time that the NYRA stewards go it right.

El Angelo said...

I'm not sure you're wrong, wmcorrow. The stewards problem is pretty easy to solve: set up a straightforward set of rules and guidelines for them, and have them issue reports after each race they examine.

Anonymous said...

Seems simple to me, every other sport has a set of rules. Violate those rules and a penalty is called regardless of the importance of the game or the game situation.

Football refs and Baseball umps do not care whethar a play impacts a game, they make what they believe to be the correct call and let the chips fall where they may.

No room for interpretation, same as it should be in racing whethar its the Ky Derby or a maiden claimer at the Big A.

I have long maintained that one of the reasons for subsequent poor performance for Derby participants is the anything goes rodeo style riding completely ignored by the stewards. Its not the number of horses as many like to claim, in Europe they regularly run races with larger fields but the jockeys are ruthlessly monitored.

Many of the participants come out of the Derby all bruised and bloodied yet the stewards never even take a look unless contact is flagrant and in the stretch drive.

Easy to change, before next year, announce to the world that rodeo riding will not longer be allowed and fowls will not be tolerated, especially out of the gate when a lot of the damage seems to occur.

Then enforce those rules, even if it means TV has to sit through multiple inquiries.

Alan Mann said...

>>Football refs and Baseball umps do not care whether a play impacts a game, they make what they believe to be the correct call and let the chips fall where they may.

No room for interpretation, same as it should be in racing whether its the Ky Derby or a maiden claimer at the Big A.

But in fact, interpretation plays a huge role in both baseball and football, especially the latter, in which the referee's interpretation of contact prior to a pass reception, and whether that pass was catchable, leads to him throwing a flag for pass interference or not. That's a penalty that can literally change the course of a game. Similarly, the first or third base umpire in baseball makes the final call on check swings, and I can't think of a more subjective call in sports.

So, shouldn't the stewards have some leeway on calling fouls if it's obvious, as in the Aqueduct race, that the contact didn't effect the outcome?

El Angelo said...

On the pass interference point: that's written into the rule that the ball must be catchable before PI can be called. If the powers that be want to write it into the book that the outcome of the race had to have been effected by the infraction, that's fine. I'm more interested in getting a clear rule and definition and making the stewards explain their reasoning publicly than what the actual rule is.

Anonymous said...

I stand correct, there is interpretation but it involves whethar the foul, or play, itself occurred, not whethar it influenced the outcome of the game which should have zero impact in the decision making process.

Miracles happen in racing, horse look beat and come back to win on occasion, the stewards do not have all knowing powers that can ascertain a certain foul had no impact. Ya never know.

If the best horse gets taken down, so be it, the best team or athlete does not always win.

But I think we all agree there should be a written rule book, until there is one in place EVERY call is interpretation.

Anonymous said...

By the way, I hate the uncatchable rule in the NFL, it should be eliminated too just as they got rid of the force out of bounds.

steve in nc said...

The head-on view from the replay program showed that the winner clearly bumped the 2nd place finisher twice and forced that one into the horse on the rail who was squeezed. Under any set of guidelines, this has to be a DQ.

In basketball, when a guy takes a wild shot that probably has no chance of going in but gets fouled in the act, they still have to give him foul shots.

Alan Mann said...

Steve, et al.,

I guess my problem is that I'm simply ignorant of the rules. Is there in fact a rule? Do the stewards have discretion? Don't we sometimes hear that an incident did not effect the outcome and therefore the result was allowed to stand?

I feel stupid, like with baseball, which I've been watching for four decades, and I still can't tell you what the rule is for a check swing. Is it breaking the wrists? Does the bat have to cross a certain point? I honestly don't know. And sometimes I wonder if the umpires don't either.

steve in nc said...

Alan -- I do think you're right about some discretion, but those bumps were bumps, not brushes, had impact, and put the horse on the rail in a bad spot, if only for a stride.

As for the swing, my old copy of the NC school rules (I umpired a litte) says "As an aid in deciding, the umpire may note whether the swing carried the barrel of the bat poast the body of the batter, but final decision is based on whether the batter actually struck at the ball."

I couldn't find anything about half-swings in the version of the rulebook on MLB's site.