I watched the head-on of the Big Cap, and my first impression was that Trevor Denman had it right when he observed that "Game On Dude shifted out." And that Setsuko's jockey Victor Espinoza was correct in saying that "the stewards are blind."
"Obviously, those three stewards, they don’t know what they’re looking at.But upon further review, I think there's enough reasonable doubt as to which horse started the chain reaction to justify the decision to leave the result unchanged.
"I don’t mind running a legitimate second, but when you knock the air out of my horse and you get beat by a head, it’s just insane.” [Bloodhorse]
"The whole chain reaction series of events was caused by the middle horse (Twirling Candy)," said steward Scott Chaney.That was the opinion of two of the three stewards in a split decision. Watching it frame by frame, it's hard to say who is right, in my opinion. The most incriminating thing against Game On Dude in my view is that the incident occurred immediately after the first time Chantal Sutherland hit him with a left-handed whip. But I think a reasonable observer could make the case that Twirling Candy was leaning inward at the time, and was at least equally to blame. The person I think has the least to complain about is Espinoza on Setsuko. He looked to have the race won despite the bumping, but was beaten fair and square at the wire by an ultra-game and resilient Game On Dude, who additionally probably took the worst of the bumping of the two.
It was distressing to read of how Baffert was cursed at by some fans (though news reports at sporting events often make the actions of a few idiots seem more widespread than they actually were).
"I've been to Belmont," Baffert said later. "This was nothing." [LA Times]Oooo, ouch. Well, maybe the hecklers were just a bunch of Tea Partiers who mistook the white-haired trainer as the intrusive Uncle Sam (with a shave). Game On Dude earned a career-high Beyer of 99, and is now two-for-two in 2011 after being away since finishing 4th in last year's Belmont.