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HRN Original Blog:
Handicapper's Corner

Bi-Coastal Blunders

Double taxation, increased takeout, admission, parking, and concessions are all things draining patrons’ pockets at most race tracks. I understand the cost on most things go up over time, but when race tracks’ arch rival, riverboat casinos, offer most of these things for free (and don’t increase takeout), race fans are at a competitive disadvantage before getting to their seats. But when those (stewards) who are supposed to make sure races are run in a forthright manner don’t do their job, is when I start to have a beef with the game I love almost more than anything.

 

On Saturday, Belmont Park played host to the Grade II Sheepshead Bay Stakes consisting of well-matched female turf marathoners. #1 Mystical Star was seen as an outsider being sent off at $15.40-1 in the 9 horse field. Once everyone loaded in the gate, Mystical Star reared and broke through the gate a fraction of a second before the starter opened the gates, spotting the field 10-15 lengths. The assistant starter for #2 Magical Cat held her reign not allowing her to run with the rest of the field. Once she was allowed to proceed, all hope was lost and jockey, John Velasquez pulled Magical Cat up before reaching the first turn of their 1 3/8 miles journey.

 

On the final turn, Mystical Star had miraculously clawed her way back into the race. Down the stretch she showed a ton of grit as she fought gamely to finish 3rd, only ½ length behind runner up, Hit It Rich. After crossing the wire, the “Inquiry” sign was displayed & it looked as if the #1 & #2 would be declared non-starters and refunds made. #2 Magical Cat was declared a non-starter for being held back by the assistant starter & thus having an unfair disadvantage. However, #1 Mystical Star was disqualified and placed last for breaking through the gate & getting an advantageous head start, even though she was 10-15 lengths behind everyone in the early stages. WHAT!?! According to the Belmont Park stewards from NYRA website:

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I understand that Mystical Star should be disqualified since her gate opened early, but why not declare her a non-starter? Contrary to the stewards’ opinions, Mystical Star was at a huge disadvantage, even though her gate opened before her competitors. The only difference in Mystical Star being placed last or declared a non-starter are the gamblers who bet their hard earned money are getting the short end of the stick (to put it nicely). Is it too much to ask for a little common sense to prevail? Actually, The NY State Racing & Wagering Board even has a rule allowing for common sense, but it’s too bad the people in charge of upholding the rules don’t know them.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just when I thought stewards’ bad decisions (or lack thereof) were done for the day, along came the 4th race at Los Alamitos Saturday night. The 4th was like any normal 300-yard quarter horse race, until the gates opened, or did they? #6 MTC Ain’t He Cool broke sharply inward and appeared to impede #3, #4 & #5. MTC Ain’t He Cool went on to win, but not without the “Inquiry” sign being flashed by the stewards. After further review, #6 made no contact with #3, #4 & #5 and was declared the winner, but during the head-on replay it is obvious #5 Rhythmontherun’s gate did not open at the same time as the other runners.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Again, it seemed like a no brainer to declare #5 a non-starter and refund all wagers on him. Instead he checked in last of 9, and the chart writer’s comment said “off very slow, bumped start.” Apparently he/she didn’t watch the race either, or maybe the chart writer is a steward. Multiple voicemails were left with the Los Alamitos media relations department looking for comment on the matter, but no return call was made. Also, the California Horse Racing Board was contacted, but they are closed until Tuesday due to the Memorial Day holiday. Therefore, I’m not sure if the stewards just missed this one or if they were too lazy to declare him a non-starter and refund all wagers. Either way someone needs to be held accountable for the poor performance of stewards throughout the year, which costs gamblers millions of dollars annually. The same gamblers that are the only reason this game exists. Race tracks are about the only place where the customers DO NOT come first, but tracks won’t have to worry about that much longer as they continue to lose business by not gaining new fans. What a shocker.

 

Please be sure to follow me on Twitter-@Cappercorner and/or friend me on facebook.com to continue the horse racing conversation!

 

 

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Older Comments about Bi-Coastal Blunders...

BTW, does it look to anyone else like Mystical Star's assitant starter tried to hold her back by the reins and couldn't? That seems to me to have increased her disatvantage and should be further grounds for declaring her a non-starter.
I was watching the Sheepshead Bay stakes, and I was dumfounded as well. HRTV commentators were perplexed also.
Great work Jasen, I'm glad someone addressed this. The sport gets a black eye the way it is, it's time we held the people making these decisions responsible.
Jason, that ruling for Los Alamitos is ridiculous. Halter's make the gates slower...? I'm going to be scratching my head on that one for a while.
The Sheepshead Bay was just bizarre. I did not understand the final ruling either since Mystical Star was at such a huge disadvantage despite her "advantage." Definitely a bad call.
I have to admit, Orlando Gutierrez, media contact for Los Alamitos is a stand up guy. I just got off the phone with him & he said the #5 was wearing a flipping halter which can make the gate open a little slower from time to time on a rare occasion. This is listed in their racing programs & is risk the public takes when wagering on horses wearing flipping halters.
Unbelievable.

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Meet Jasen Mangrum

My interest in the Sport of Kings goes back over 25 years with my father taking me with his friends to the old Ak-Sar-Ben Race Course in Omaha, NE.  From those early experiences I was able to read the Daily Racing Form before the age of 10.  Once The Woodlands opened in Kansas City in 1988, I became totally hooked on the sport studying racing charts after homework and tennis practice.  In recent years, with the explosion of handicapping tournaments, my love for handicapping the races has risen to a new level.  Primarily focused on New York, Chicago and Louisiana racing, I have now been forced to study races far and wide in attempt to find “cap horses” in the tournaments I play.  I have also dabbled in horse ownership within syndicates and on my own.

 

My fondest memories in racing include Silver Charm’s 1997 Kentucky Derby victory.  Both my father and I selected him, which made for a memorable day.  The best race I’ve seen was Tiznow’s first Breeders Cup Classic win in 2000 when he outdueled Giant’s Causeway down the length of the Churchill Downs stretch.   My biggest windfall as a gambler was a pool-scooping pick-4 win, paying over $6,600 at The Woodlands in 2005.

 

The point of this blog is to get everyone out there a few winners, but also to go in depth at how I come to the conclusions that I do.  From week to week, I’ll explain angles I think are important to locate winners.  I encourage others to post picks they like too, but please explain how you come to your conclusions.  That way everyone can learn a little more about this great game, and add another weapon to their handicapping arsenal.-Best of luck, Jasen Mangrum