Certain Racing Information Belongs to the Players
It was the day after Travers, the winners were still rejoicing and the losers were looking for a place to deal the cards.
And the controversy surrounding the bar-shoed Travers longshot, Our Edge, continued to swirl.
In case you were unaware, at 12:30 PM Travers day, Tom Durkin announced that “in the 12th race, the Travers Stakes, Our Edge will race with two bar shoes on.”
If it was not the first time bar shoes had been worn, Durkin would have said instead: “...two bar shoes on again.”
We’ve said this before and it bears repeating: No racing venue supplies more bettor-friendly information than does the New York Racing Association.
But that doesn’t mean there won’t be glitches. And because the Travers is a national event, Saturday’s glitch qualifies as a big one.
Many would argue that bar shoe information, and foot-ware information in general, is the most form-altering change this side of blinkers and new geldings. [Tongue ties should be included here, too; an old-school topic for another day].
Bar shoes, and the somewhat less-severe aluminum pads, are used to protect sore hooves, quarter-cracks and the like. (Quality Road wore them to exercise while recuperating from quarter-crack issues this spring).
In short, bar shoes are one of racing‘s red flags--important information for bettors--and are considered especially debilitating on wet tracks because they hinder a horse’s action.
In fact, Our Edge lost his left front shoe on the wet track Saturday and nicked up his front leg--“grabbed a quarter in two spots”--as well.
What made a bad situation worse was when Our Edge’s trainer, Nick Zito, told the NYRA notes team Sunday morning that “he won his last three starts with those shoes, so I didn’t want to take them off.”
A check of Equibase past performances indicated that Our Edge did not wear bar shoes in any of those races, two at Delaware Park, May 18 and July 19, and one at Monmouth, June 20.
On Sunday, the Monmouth stewards said there was no indication that Our Edge was wearing a bar shoe on June 20. There was no racing at Delaware Sunday.
Like the NYRA, Monmouth has a blacksmith checking shoes of race day entrants, looking for bar shoes, or turn-downs, prohibited on most turf courses, or toe grabs, whose legal length has been shortened recently in the interests of horse safety.
If bar shoe information was not listed in the track program, a public announcement would have been made, a Monmouth steward told a reporter.
No such announcement was made at Monmouth Park on June 20.
When making wagers, it’s caveat emptor, buyer beware. But this situation was a little different because of prevailing circumstances.
Racing is under siege these days. Whenever a major event can attract a national television audience, all industry segments should do its best to put on its best face forward.
The local stewards, if they didn’t want to punish the owner by ordering Our Edge scratched, could have ordered that the horse run for “purse money only,” thereby safeguarding the public.
Zito, if his horse wore bar shoes while winning his last three starts, should have alerted data collector Equibase, or Daily Racing Form, or Brisnet.com, that the bar shoe symbol was omitted from the horse’s past performances.
He did not, and neither did he supply this information at Travers entry time so that the public, via past-performance data disseminators and media, could have been informed.
If Our Edge wore bar shoes in his three most recent starts, blacksmiths at Delaware and Monmouth should be held accountable for either not doing their jobs or following up with track officials so that the information would reach the public.
That’s how the NYRA stewards found out yesterday, from the blacksmith on duty, paid by NYRA for just such circumstances.
In the big picture, there are worse occurrences and misdeeds. But this incident is indicative of lax officiating at other venues at worse, or disregard for customers, at best.
Some horses win wearing bar shoes, of course.
But never have I seen one succeed under Saturday’s conditions; a longshot overmatched by four more-accomplished runners over a demanding surface and at a demanding and unfamiliar distance. Travers horseplayers deserved better.
No More 72-Hour Entries
In a further assault on the needs of their customers, a decision has been made that with the return of racing to Belmont Park, entries will be taken on a 48-hour basis instead of 72.
Apparently, a handful of trainers complained to the racing office that somehow a three-day box inconvenienced them in some ways, or perhaps it was weather considerations, or accounting difficulties, or the main in the moon.
What it wasn’t, and what this isn’t, is concern for its customers and media outlets that service the public in terms of past performance data and reportage.
It would serve decision makers right if after racing leaves the magical world of Saratoga racing, simulcast players--who bet nine of every 10 dollars wagered on thoroughbreds in this country--do business with venues that allow them as much handicapping time as possible.
The better informed most players are, the more they bet. All tracks should draw on a 72-hour basis.
Icon Project Romps
She’s not Zenyatta, but she seems to be getting closer as the season wears on. Icon Project, a romping winner of the New York Handicap before her wide-trip Delaware Handicap placing, rebounded in a big way, taking the Grade 1 Personal Ensign by half a pole.
Saddled by Marty Wolfson, who has a strong aversion to flying, but not to winning, and ridden by Julien Leparoux, she moved to longshot leader Weathered at headstretch and spread-eagled her opposition.
“It was just like the New York Handicap,” said Wolfson. “When she was tugging at [Julien] at the three-eighths pole, it was just a question of how much she was going to win by.”
To be precise, 13-½ lengths.
by John Pricci
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