The DQ That Wasn’t
For the record, Game On Dude won a three-horse scrum with the eventual second-place finisher Setsuko and 1-2 race favorite Twirling Candy, who faded out of contention after getting bounced around like a rent check from Lindsay Lohan.
According to Scott Chaney, one of the Santa Anita stewards who by a 2-1 vote elected not to alter the order of finish, “Candy” caused his own problems.
“It was the majority opinion that the inside horse [Game On Dude] was going straight, and that the contact was caused by the middle horse [Twirling Candy] drifting in, causing contact and a whole chain of ping-ponging events,” Chaney said. “We held Twirling Candy accountable whereas we felt the inside horse was going straight the whole time.”
It’s been said that a picture is worth a thousand words, so I broke down the head-on video from the time the horses rounded the final bend until the point that Game On Dude and Setsuko began their final battle down the lane. Here’s what I found:
It’s interesting to note that by measuring Game On Dude’s distance from the rail in each of the six still shots posted above (all captured within 5.1 seconds of the first frame), it is clear that the stewards were wrong: the “Dude” did, in fact, drift out. Even worse, there were times (see shots two, three and five) that the Bob Baffert trainee looked more like the Leaning Tower of Pisa than a thoroughbred racehorse — which jibes with what Joel Rosario, rider of Twirling Candy, observed.
“The inside (Game On Dude) came out,” claimed Rosario, “and the outside kind of stayed with me, so I got bumped and lost control. After that, I didn’t have anything.”
“It’s the wrong decision,” added Victor Espinoza, who piloted Setsuko. “I don’t know why it took so long to make the wrong decision. I think the stewards are blind. How many times do they have to drop me to disqualify the horse? That’s insane. 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 [the official margin was a nose], that’s insane.”
Not surprisingly, Chantal Sutherland, the first female rider to triumph in the Big ‘Cap in its 74-year history, disagreed with her riding peers and instead sided with the stewards.
“I had no problem with my horse,” Sutherland noted. “He was as straight as an arrow. All I know is that in the race it felt like I got bumped from behind. My horse went off balance, and I hadn’t drifted in or anything.”
Amidst all the controversy, one thing is clear: I sure as heck wouldn’t trust Sutherland to shoot an apple off my head with a bow and arrow.
Dialed In Loses Signal
When leading Kentucky Derby contender Dialed In faced just four rivals in a $62,500 optional claiming event at Gulfstream Park on Sunday, the expectation — at least by those that made the colt the 1-5 betting choice — was that he would win for fun. After all, the son of Mineshaft was the only graded stakes winner in the field — a potential super horse, according to some. Yet, something strange happened on the way to the winner’s circle that day: mainly, Dialed In got beaten.
Equestrio, a four-year-old that had just finished fourth, beaten six lengths in a similar spot, held off his vaunted stable mate by a half-length, despite drifting out and being taken in hand in the closing stages. The final time for the nine-furlong affair was 1:51.12… not exactly the kind of clocking that inspires tears of joy and flowery prose.
Still, Dialed In fans need not fret. While I think Sunday’s contest showed that the youngster is not yet the sport’s greatest star, nor even the best three-year-old in training (that honor still belongs to Uncle Mo), as a prep, it served its purpose and Dialed In should be ready to give his best in the Florida Derby.
Back to the Future
This weekend, the second of three Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks future wagering pools will be offered through TwinSpires.com and other venues. To celebrate the occasion, I have produced my Win Factor Report (computerized fair odds line) on each event: