November 28, 2010

To Disqualify or not to Disqualify

A huge holiday weekend of racing is near complete, and like it or not the overriding them of the big races was the unenviable decisions needed to be made by the stewards. The biggest race of the weekend worldwide was certainly the Japan Cup, and the result was a disqualification. Buena Vista was taken down after impeding the path of 2nd place finisher Rose Kingdom. Meanwhile back in the States, one of the key stakes was Friday’s Grade 1 Clark Handicap, and that one also featured a horse being handed the top spot by the stewards. Taking a closer look at the two situations reveals the difficult decisions left to the stewards.

Top European jockey Christophe Soumillion piloted the great Japanese filly Buena Vista to a seemingly easy victory in the Japan Cup. Not so fast my friends, for after the race a lengthy inquiry ensued. Eventually the review resulted in a disqualification of the impressive winner. It was determined that she had impeded the progress of Rose Kingdom, also of Japan, and ridden by Yutaka Take, as she was sweeping to the lead in the stretch. To the credit of Rose Kingdom, he did come on strong to get up for 2nd on the wire, after checking briefly from the incident. This photo became important when the inquiry sign went up. More than 100,000 on-track fans would find just how crucial some 24 minutes later when the decision was finally announced. The $5.8 million dollar race had been reversed. Rose Kingdom was declared the Japan Cup winner and favored Buena Vista was placed 2nd.

In the Clark, Successful Dan was a handful the entire race, fighting with jockey Julien Leparoux from the very beginning. Clearly he was a horse who was not happy being restrained. Eventually he would cause major trouble and he wasn’t the only one. It looked like it was going to be a fantastic finish until Demarcation, holding a slim advantage nearing the eighth pole, suddenly made a left turn. He sharply squeezed off his Paul McGee trained stablemate, Dubious Miss, causing a dangerous situation near the rail. Meanwhile, Successful Dan just behind the leading pack, and still full of run, swerved to the outside, solidly bumping Redding Colliery. Once clear, Successful Dan went on to a game win over late-running Giant Oak, best by a head at the wire. After a long delay, the stewards ruled a double DQ, and Successful Dan and Demarcation both came down. Giant Oak became the winner, Successful Dan was placed 3rd and Demarcation went to last.

Big races and tough decisions. Made tougher because the best horse hit the wire first in both the Japan Cup and the Clark. Should Successful Dan and Buena Vista have been taken down? My answer is yes and no. Successful Dan’s number should have dropped because of the rather severe bumping of Redding Colliery. I am leery of taking down a horse in a grade 1 race, when it is pretty clear the best horse won, but in this case, the infraction was obvious enough to declare Giant Oak the winner. The punishment fit the crime, and jockey Julien Leparoux has since been suspended.

In the Japan Cup, however, I am not nearly as agreeable with the steward’s decision. Did Buena Vista come over and impede Rose Kingdom to some extent? Absolutely. Was it enough to take down an easy winner of one of the biggest races in the world. Not by a long shot. If I owned Buena Vista I would be sick right now (luckily they owned the horse who was put up as well). She was much the best in the rich and prestigious Japan Cup. After 24 minutes the decision makers got it wrong. Taking Buena Vista down for her petty crime was nothing short of criminal.


Jonathan said...

I know I am sick I backed Red Desire because she had form with Buena Vista but accepted that RD was now a vulnerable horse.

Back the form only for the ludicrous Dubai dodgems 16 runners round a bandbox (btn by Dar Re Mi who was thrown out when I backed her!) Now the Tokyo stewards kill Buena Vista.

Sometimes being right is not enough.

Try to remember when I've luckily won!

darlene said...

Buena Vista was the best and even DQ doesn't change my opinion on that and I feel for her connections and the people who backed her I would also have voted for her for Star of week if you'd have put her up

Charlie said...

I agree 100% on the ruling in the Clark....That was almost a demolition derby instead of bumper cars, I see days were given out over the incident/s. Havent watched the video of the Japan cup, so I dont have an opinion yet.

Brian Zipse said...

Hang in there Jonathan, remember ... "Sometimes you eat the bar and sometimes... well, he eats you."

Perhaps I should have, Darlene ;-)

Tell me what you think after you watch the Japan Cup replay, Charlie. I say something stinks in Japan!

danmunn said...

Darlene, connections won't mind for too long....she got DQd for their other horse!

Kate Hunter said...

I am livid. Take Yutaka has been injured significantly each year for the past two years. Your english video didn't show Victoire Pisa also swing in. Soumillon didn't even need to whip her in the final furlong. She finished being eased practically. She would have defeated Rose Kingdom anyway. I don't think she got in Rose Kingdom's way any more than Victoire Pisa did and I think Take is a bit shy of close quarters. Buena was going to win the Emperor's Cup, Japan Cup AND Arima Kinen next month. A Triple Crown of another sort. UGH! WORST CALL EVER!

Charlie said...

You were right Brian.....something stinks awful about that race.....Thats one of the worst calls I've seen in awhile after watching the video....the worst being when the Wicked North got his number taken down when Alex Solis claimed foul years back.

william said...

brian...need your opinion on this also....couldnt agree more on the japan cup opinion, that horse was clearly the best. the way the camera was handled made it difficult to determine who was running on what path, i thought the horse on the inside coming out caused more of an interference with rose kingdom,and the jockey of buena vista clearly did not feel he cut across at any thought on the clark are completely different, i agree a disqualification was necessary but more importantly i feel that lepraux deserved and still deserves a much greater suspension(considering desormeaux got 3 days also)...desormeaux's horse clearly on his own turned in, on the other hand lepareaux clearly, intentionally runs his horse into refined colliery and anna napravnik( would he have done this if it was calvin borel??)ann was riding a race to win, leaning in on the horse the stewards must send a message that endangering other jockeys will not be tolerated....i am curious as to find out what anna said after the my opinion this is 100 times worse than what jj did in the breeders cup( forgive any typos as to names of horses since i didnt want to go back to original article but youll figure out who im talking about)

Brian Zipse said...

While I am all for safety in racing, I think you may be overstating what Leparoux actually did in the Clark, William. Successful Dan was a handful for him from the get go, and while it is true Leparoux was trying to steer him out, I think it was the horse who veered out so sharply into Anna's horse. There was a hole there that Leparoux saw, but Dan forced the hole to be 3 times bigger by his erratic running. I think, in this case, the small suspension for Leparoux was justified. Castellano in the Marathon had no hole.