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Saturday, February 03, 2007

Ugly Day At Big A

- A lot of good races on Saturday to talk about, but the ugly side of the sport was prominently on display at the Big A on Saturday, as an ugly spill in the fifth race led to a bizarre cessation of racing for the day. I was in the Manhattan Terrace room watching the race inside of the frosty chill, when front running Cadillac Cruiser started to falter, and then went down in a heap. Jimmy O then fell over the fallen horse, and died instantly of a broken neck.

This provided a quick dose of reality after all the fuss over how so many people cared so much about Barbaro. Most of the fans didn't miss a beat; I heard one lamenting that it wasn't the three horse who fell instead. There was little expression of concern for the fallen horses, just the usual focus on the finish. I went out into the cold to survey the scene, and a handful of people remained after the finish look on, only to see the dreaded screen go up.

Whatsmore, this spill, the second major accident in the last three days, was particularly disturbing in that just about 2 1/2 months ago, Cadillac Cruiser was beating a $35,000 claiming race by five lengths for trainer Rene Araya. He then won on Dec 27 in a $25,000 starters allowance; and most recently ran an even 5th, just 3 1/2 lenghts back as the favorite in the same company, after encountering traffic trouble on the first turn.

But on Saturday, he was entered for a $7,500 tag, and bet down with seeming reluctance by the crowd to even money. So when the jockeys failed to appear in the paddock for the sixth race, and the rest of the card was canceled without any explanation other than the fate of the various Pick Whatever pools, the consensus of the crowd was that the breakdown certainly wasn't the fault of the track condition in this case. It seemed all too obvious that there had to be some kind of physical ailment that caused this horse to be deemed by his connections to be worth only 21% of what he was just a couple of months ago. The general mood was one of disgust, and not just because of monies lost and races canceled. It was all rather depressing. I went home.

It seems to me that this is the kind of situation in which the stewards should be asking two questions - and before the race, not after a horse breaks down. Why is your horse dropping so drastically when he hasn't shown any real sign of reversing form? And...When can we send the track vet over to have a look?

As it turned out, the jockeys refused to ride over a dispute resulting from Thursday's spill. Stricken jockey Jose Santos and his wife Rita were unhappy with the care that the rider received at Jamaica Hospital; a subsequent examination at North Shore Hospital revealed injuries more severe than originally diagnosed. So when Norberto Arroyo Jr., the rider of Cadillac Cruiser, asked to be taken to North Shore (as the Form reports the riders requested prior to the card) and was brought to Jamaica instead, the riders declined to ride the rest of the card. Sunday's racing has also been canceled, partly due to the expected even frigid-er temperatures.

1 Comment:

Anonymous said...

That card was the worst Saturday card I can remember. Lots of restricted bottom level claimers and the stakes race was cancelled beacuse it did not fill. They should have cancelled the whole thing before it started.