Game On Dude won a controversial running of the $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap on Saturday, giving jockey Chantal Sutherland the distinction of being the first woman rider to win the historic race – and the first woman rider to be booed as she rode into the winner’s circle.
Game On Dude survived a 12-minute inquiry by track stewards into a bumping incident in early stretch involving the 14-1 winner, runner-up Setsuko, and 1-2 favorite Twirling Candy.
After a lengthy review, stewards Scott Chaney, Kim Sawyer, and Tom Ward voted 2-1 to not change the order of finish, ruling that Twirling Candy initiated contact that led to bumping between the horses. The stewards ruled that Twirling Candy drifted to the inside, struck Game On Dude and caused the winner to tip to the outside, resulting in a chain reaction of bumping among Game on Dude, Twirling Candy, and Setsuko, who raced farthest wide.
Chaney and Ward voted to make no change, while Sawyer argued for a disqualification, Ward said.
The decision was met with a chorus of boos from the ontrack crowd of 23,304, a reaction that surprised Sutherland, 35. The victory was her fourth win of the meeting.