By Noah Joseph
Throughout Canterbury’s history, thousands upon thousands of races and racing days have gone by without anything out of the ordinary happening. But there have been times where strange occurrences have led to some mind-boggling and unexpected results. Time for our Mulder and Scully instincts to kick in, for we are about to open: The Eq-Files.
In the world of horse racing, disqualifications are by no means an abnormality. But to have a double disqualification occur and alter the results of a race in such a drastic matter is about as rare as Halley’s Comet. That just so happened at Canterbury just over a month ago. On May 26th, a field of five horses competed in the first race of the day, which was won by the number 1 horse, the aptly named Bring Me A Check in a photo over the number 5 horse, Blame JD finishing 2nd by a very slim margin, with the number 4 horse, R Mercedes Boy finishing 3rd. But before anyone could celebrate, the stewards signaled an inquiry into the stretch run for a possible foul. Blame JD’s jockey, Harry Hernandez, also filed an objection against Bring Me A Check’s rider, Ruben Fuentes. From the replay, it was clear to see that Bring Me A Check was drifting out to the left in the stretch, impeding Blame JD. Should be settled pretty quickly, right? However, the rider of R Mercedes Boy, Lindey Wade, claimed foul on Harry Hernandez for interference heading down the backstretch. Once again, the stewards turned to the replay for evidence. The replay showed Blame JD coming to the right and cutting off the path of R Mercedes Boy, causing him to clip heels and nearly go down. So what do you do in this situation? Well the rules of horse racing state that any disqualified horse must be placed behind the horse they bothered. So the stewards disqualified Bring Me A Check from first and placed him behind Blame JD, making him 1st. Done and dusted right? Not so fast, for right after that, the stewards disqualified Blame JD for impeding R Mercedes Boy. So once again, a horse that hampered another horse and is disqualified for it, must be places behind the impeded runner. So by rule, R Mercedes Boy was named the winner, with Blame JD being placed behind him in 2nd, and Bring Me A Check being placed in 3rd. Instead of the top three being 1-5-4, it went from 5-1-4 to 4-5-1. Certainly an unusual way for a race to end.
All racehorses must master the starting gate if they are ever going to succeed on the track, and it’s no secret that some horses have problems there. But what happens when the gate itself is the problem, and not the horse? That just so happened on June 18th, 2015. On paper, it looked like a simple claiming race on grass with 13 horses set to participate. And it looked like a normal finish with Who’s For Glory getting the glory in victory. But it was not a normal race by any means. As the field broke from the gate, horses from posts 1 through 7 came out in unison, as did the 12 horse. But horses 8 through 11 along with the 13 were left behind briefly. One or two horses coming out slow is by no means an oddity, but having nearly a quarter of the field having issues at the start seemed unusual. The stewards called an inquiry to see what happened. What they found was gates 1 through 7 along with 12 opened in tandem, but gates 8 through11 and 13 did not open in kind with the others. This meant that those horses would be declared non-starters and all money bet on those horses would be refunded due to them not getting an equal opportunity at the start. The race could have ended up being declared a no contest. But in the end, the stewards declared horses 8 through11 non-starters due to their gates not opening on time with the others, and all wagers on them were refunded.
You’re probably wondering about the 13 horse whose gate didn’t open on time as well. That horse turned out to be Who’s For Glory, the winner of the race. Since she won the race despite the issues with her stall, she was declared a starter. In this case, 13 was good luck.
Miscommunications happen all the time in a variety of situations. But to have one happen during a race can be a dangerous matter. That kind of situation happened at Canterbury on May 27th, 2017. It was an ordinary race on turf and for at least half, it looked like it was going to remain that way as Copper Munn led the field, when all of a sudden, Copper Munn’s rider, Alex Canchari, suddenly stood up and began looking around. Something had gone amiss. Copper Munn was not injured in any way, shape, or form, yet Alex continued to stand up in the saddle as if to pull him up. Eventually, Alex returned to his regular riding position, but by then Copper Munn had been passed, and the race was won by Colfear. Almost immediately, a steward’s inquiry was launched into what happened and why Canchari took up so sharply for so long. What happened was a surprise to almost everyone.
As the field went down the backstretch, the right rein on a horse named Bar Trick had somehow broken and caused the horse to drift out to the right, taking a couple horses with him. One of the jockeys shouted “broken reins,” which Alex heard as “no race,” as if the race was being declared a no contest.
Alex then proceeded to ease his mount, which is the proper move in a race that is being declared a no contest or if a warning from the stewards is announced during the race. However, there was no warning issued, and it was just a simple misunderstanding. Nevertheless, it was still smart of Alex to air on the side of caution, and the race was eventually declared official.
While most races and racing days go off without a hitch, there are times where things happen that are just completely out of the realm of normality, and most who are there to witness it often have great stories to tell. But you have to be at the track to fully experience these unusual occurrences. Come to the track and watch the race, because the truth is out there.