Stewards’ Watch

Stewards' Watch





Have a question for the Canterbury Park Stewards?
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11 thoughts on “Stewards’ Watch”

  1. Last Monday there was a trainers objection in the Honor the Hero Stakes race. Have you ever made a decision to disqualify a horse based on a trainers objection? In 30 years of being a fan, I can’t recall ever seeing a horse disqualified on a trainers objection.

    1. All three stewards overseeing the 2015 Canterbury Park race meet have considered claims of foul lodged by a trainer at some point in their careers.

      However, only one recalls a trainer claim resulting in a disqualification. The trainer claim was made because the jockey had not lodged a claim of foul when there appeared to be obvious interference.

      Racing rules permit jockeys, owners, and trainers to lodge a claim of foul with the stewards if they believe their horse was the victim of interference.

      In truth, jockeys file 95 percent or more of the claims. Once they have pulled up their mount on the backstretch, they will go to one of the outriders to make their claim, explaining who the claim is against and where the incident occurred.

  2. There have been numerous stewards scratches this year. I know why a trainer or vet would scratch a horse. What are the chief reasons that stewards would order a horse scratched?

    1. By racing rules, stewards are the only officials who can scratch horses or accept the recommendations to scratch from other officials most often the state veterinarians, or on occasion, the starter.
      Some of the reasons stewards scratch horses include:
      – No foal registration papers
      – No lip tattoo
      – No Minnesota Worker’s Compensation policy
      – No appearance on grounds
      – No transportation available or a van breakdown
      – Horse not in compliance with workout rules
      – Horse not in care, custody, and control of trainer named in program
      – Owner’s license application not completed
      – Trainer request in field of more than 10
      – Track condition, e.g. off turf or risk of re-injury on muddy or sloppy conditions
      – Horse entered as MTO (Main Track Only) when race stays on grass.
      – Race Office Request to help fill entries on another racing day
      – On advice of state veterinarians after morning race day inspections due to sickness, lameness, soreness, injury or confirmation of illness after having already been treated by a practicing veterinarian, or during the racing program due to lameness, warming up, injury in gate, flipping in paddock, or injury in post parade
      – On advice of starter, e.g. horse needs more schooling or is fractious loading in gate and may be a threat to injure assistant starters, the jockey, or other horses
      – Jockey refuses to ride after warming up and no other jockey is available and willing to accept the mount
      – Horse unseats jockey while warming up and runs loose at a fast pace for several furlongs

  3. In race 2 on Friday night, the #1 horse was disqualified for interference with the #2 horse. What really bothered me was the #2 jockey—he struck his horse on the shoulder 25 times in that short sprint. It was clearly visible on the replay that was aired as you made your decision. Please comment on your rules regarding excessive whipping and whether it can have any bearing on your placing decisions.

    1. Stewards’ Watch Response to Earlier Whip Use Question
      Earlier in the meet, concern was expressed by a blog poster over Jockey Ry Eikleberry striking his horse on the shoulder 25 times in a short Quarter Horse race to finish second, and later moved to first on disqualification of the original winner.
      Use of the whip has been the subject of debate for years. How much is too much? Since racing rules call for a jockey to ride each of his/her mounts to the wire to achieve the best possible placing, how can the number of times they strike a horse be restricted? Gave riding crops be redesigned?
      Changes have been made. Gone are the days where Hall of Fame Jockey Laffit Pincay whipped Diabolo so strongly several times left-handed in mid-stretch of the 1975 Kentucky Derby that his mount ducked out bumping Avatar off stride. While the two horses regrouped from the contact for the late stretch run, Foolish Pleasure cruised by both and raced to victory.
      Over the years since Pincay’s transgression, public perception has grown to restrict whip use.
      We waited to respond until new whip rules were implemented in Minnesota. They became effective with the start of last Saturday’s racing program and they read as follows:
      “Jockeys are prohibited from striking a horse more than three times in succession without pausing to only push on the horse to give the horse a chance to respond before using the riding crop again.”
      Some Canterbury jockeys have had difficulty adjusting to the new rules as eight violated the strike limit once and were fined $200 for their indiscretions. Two other jockeys violated the strike limit twice and were fined $400 for the second violation. A third offense will cost $800 and a fourth violation will cause the rider to be suspended.
      The Wall Street Journal addressed the subject of “How Much Whipping is Too Much?” on May 25, weeks after Jockey Victor Espinosa struck Triple Crown winner American Pharoah more than 30 times in the stretch run of the Kentucky Derby.
      In part, the WSJ reported, ”At its most basic, a whip—also called a riding crop or, colloquially, a ‘stick’—is used for ‘safety, correction and encouragement,’ according to recommended rules issued by the Association of Racing Commissioners International, an umbrella group of rule makers, and adopted by some U.S. states.”
      Jockeys have different styles of whipping. Most riders begin by “flagging,” or waving the whip in the horse’s field of vision. Then they may tap the shoulder or strike the rear hitting the hind quarters or even the saddle cloth.
      In recent years, riding crops have been redesigned to be lighter, shorter and smaller with a padded portion, known as a popper, on the end of the whip able to absorb more shock yet make a loud sound.
      We would not disqualify a horse for a jockey’s violation of the 3-strike rule.

      1. Thank you for your reply to my post on excessive whipping. Stewards have a very difficult job in trying to keep racing fair for all, and because of your blog entries on this site it is clear to me that no decision is taken lightly. It is a relief to me as a racing fan, who also cares a great deal about horses, to know that their welfare is a high priority to you.

      2. Here is the rule as referenced above: Minnesota Rule 7883.0160 Subp. 6. C. A jockey must not use the riding crop indiscriminately. A jockey must not strike a horse more than three consecutive times without pausing to only push on the horse giving it a chance to respond before using the riding crop again.

  4. In the 3rd race on July 16th there was a lengthy stewards inquiry after the race that resulted in no change. (to my surprise and certainly others) In that race replays showed the #2 horse, Skirts On Fire, was rank and bore out badly on the first turn resulting starting a chain reaction that obviously compromised several horses chances in that race. Additionally, in my opinion, it created a dangerous situation for both jockeys and horses. The script giving to Paul Allen to announce the “no change” decision wasn’t very clear. Although I had no financial incentive in the race, I thought there would be some action taken on the #2 horse who finished fourth to complete the super perfecta. In the name of transparency that has been vowed in this Stewards” Watch section, a comment or further explanation on this “no change” decision would be welcomed.


    1. Subj: Race 4 on July 16
      Aside from the challenges posed in the race involving the gate malfunction, there is no question Race 4 on July 16 was the most difficult race to dissect because there were so many incidents. Following is from the Stewards’ Daily Report to the Minnesota Racing Commission:
      “4th–General inquiry called by Stewards into severe incidents into the first turn involving #2 Skirts on Fire, #3 Ms Mumba, #5 Sismonceo, #7 Andrea’s Josie and #11 Marcenia. After repetitive reviews of the videotape replays, Stewards made no change in the original order of finish as they determined there were too many horsesvying for too few spaces resulting in considerable bumping between horses while jockeys tried to get control of their mounts without any one horse or rider being directly at fault.”
      Before #2 Skirts on Fire “bore out, caused chaos,” as described by the Equibase chartcaller, there were several bumps between Skirts on Fire and #3 Ms Mumba making both horses more aggressive as they reached the turn. In addition, #5 Sismonceo came in under Jockey Ry Eikleberry putting Ms Mumba in tight quarters. Also, Jockey Lori Keith, riding #7Andrea’s Josie, was trying to stay off heels of #9 Haley’s Comet. While Keith was looking for an opening, she ended up in tight quarters when #11 Marcenia, with Hugo Sanchez aboard, kept things tight from the outside when he didn’t releave any pressure leaving the other riders with few options.

  5. i do not see the stewards report for races on 8/17. IN race 3 you disqualified the 6 horse Herbie. what did you see that was not in the replay.

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