03/05/2011 9:45PM

Santa Anita: Espinoza on Big Cap


Jockey Victor Espinoza was left furious by the stewards' decision not to disqualify Game On Dude in Saturday's $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap after a bumping incident in early stretch involving Espinoza's mount, Setsuko.

After a lengthy review, stewards Scott Chaney, Kim Sawyer and Tom Ward voted 2-1 to not change the order of finish in which Game On Dude finished a nose in front of Setsuko. Twirling Candy, the 1-2 favorite, faded to finish fifth after also being involved in the bumping incident.

The stewards ruled that Twirling Candy initiated the 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 the outside, resulting in a chain reaction of bumping between Game on Dude, Twirling Candy and Setsuko, who raced farthest wide.

Espinoza told track publicity, "It's the wrong decision. I don't know why it took so long to make the wrong decision. I think the stewards are blind. They need to have some education so people know what's going on at the races. Obviously, those three stewards, they don't know what they're looking at. How many times do they have to drop me to disqualify the horse? That's insane. I don't mind running a legitimate second, but when you knock the air out of my horse and you get beat by a head, it's just insane."

Sutherland, who became the first woman rider to win the Big Cap, said that Game On Dude did not cause the trouble and that Twirling Candy struck her mount first, even though he was racing slightly behind Game On Dude.

"All I know is that in the race it felt like I got bumped from behind," she told track publicity. "My horse went off balance and I hadn't drifted in or anything."