California’s Stewards, the people charged with the safety and integrity of racing in the state of California had the opportunity on Saturday to make a ruling that would have not only been correct, but would have sent shock waves through racing.
At the start of the race, Bayern, trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, failed to stay straight and impeded the path of Shared Belief, the favorite in the race. Although Martin Garcia, the jockey of Bayern did in fact straighten the horse out, there is no argument that Bayern impeded Shared Belief’s start and potentially even Moreno’s, another horse that would have normally contended for the lead.
While there was an inquiry after the race, the California Stewards refused to disqualify Bayern for this riding incident. The rational as reported in the Daily Racing Form that rule 1699 governed the race. This rule is a two part decision; first did the horse interfere with another horse in the race, if that is found to have happened then the second part of the analysis is whether that interference cost the horse a placing in the race. The Stewards make the claim that Bayern’s interference did not cost Shared Belief a position in the race.
The interesting thing about that is it is clear that Bayern came over into Shared Belief’s path. It’s also clear that Shared Belief did not have the opportunity as a result to set position and keep his lane. Would it have changed the outcome of the race had Shared Belief not been impeded with, we will never know.
The final point the Stewards make is that in California horses are not taken down for interference at the break. The problem with this theory is that it allows for the jockey to unfairly establish position by coming into other hoses and impeding their ability to run. As a result the standard of review is changed to reflect a standard of non-review. My thinking is that does not benefit the sport. The courageous thing would have been to take down the horse who was the bad actor and not reward the owner, trainer and jockey for impeding on Mike Smith and Shared Belief.
Watch for yourself and tell me what you think.