09/07/2015 12:13PM

Bergman: Yonkers Trot incidents leave bad taste

USTA Photo
Trond Smedshammer

Trond Smedshammer filed an objection with the judges following Saturday night’s Yonkers Trot and one trainer suggested it was “Poor Sportsmanship,” on Smedshammer’s part. The idea that a driver would impose his own will to alter the outcome of a contest when there are a number of judges paid to make the call seemed foreign to that critic.

What’s foreign to this critic is how anyone with an ounce of understanding would not know that the game is not about one person, but about owners and bettors as well. Smedshammer had a moral obligation to himself, the owner and the bettors wagering on that race to do everything in his power to defend their honor as opposed to an unwritten code that should never exist among the training and driving colony. His horse Buen Camino was bothered by Pinkman as was Billy Flynn, a horse forced to leave the course because of the incident.

So if the quotes that followed the Yonkers Trot were accurate the same trainer would have had no problems had the disqualification taken place after a judge’s inquiry, but mysteriously had a problem when those same judges corrected their own mistake?

There may have been indecision or lack of action following the Yonkers Trot but make no mistake there was activity on the final turn that would likely have caused presiding judge Nick Ferriero to display the inquiry sign. Perhaps Smedshammer was quicker to the draw than the judges to sound the alarm. One could assume that eventually a normal inquiry would have been conducted and a final decision would have been made. Compounding the problem was a lack of communication with the betting public as to what was taking place in the moments following the race. The judges rightfully took their time reviewing the action and determining placings, but most fans were left in the dark as to what was transpiring.

While there are those that would love throwing stones at the judges in this instance I thought the decision to take Pinkman down and subsequently set back stablemate French Laundry as per New York State rules was a brave one indeed. While Pinkman’s driver Yannick Gingras did not agree with the judges he made the necessary statement that he wouldn’t want to have “their job.” That’s a point that resonates in that this group of judges could have just as easily become defensive themselves for dismissing the incident initially and reacted in a manner to keep the finish intact thereby negating the complainant and defending their lack of action in the first place.

To me it takes a measured amount of guts to accept the responsibility of your own actions, even when they cast doubt on your ability and to act in the best interest of the betting public.

The judges at Yonkers on Saturday night managed to make the right call after being made aware of something they were thought to have missed in the first place. Without Smedshammer the owners and the betting public and the racing world in general would not have had to correct the result of this year’s Yonkers Trot.

For anyone to suggest Smedshammer’s actions were incorrect or make a ghastly statement that “he needs the money” as a motivating factor clearly doesn’t understand the world we all have to live in. Whether you are on top of the mountain or beneath it in this country everyone deserves representation and equal rights. Thankfully Smedshammer’s voice was heard and a potential injustice was averted.

JAYWALKING: It’s a marvel that drivers can rebound as quickly as they do after disappointment. It would have been no surprise to me had Yannick Gingras’ performances suffered after the Yonkers Trot decision. The driver had for the second time found himself on the short end of the Triple Crown stick behind Brian Sears and the sting had to be worse after Pinkman was set back. Gingras didn’t flinch and drove Revenge Shark perfectly to victory in the $500,000 Messenger.

There were some impressive 2-year-olds in action at Mohawk on Saturday night and the victories by Control The Moment and L A Delight were dominant in the Metro and She’s A Great Lady respectively. However, in 2015 we have to give pause to those performances and wonder aloud what those victories mean on a national scale. Both Mohawk races come with high purse tags but it would seem that many owners are not as inclined to leave Sire Stakes programs in search of Grand Circuit money as freshman. As good as those two were on Saturday night there appeared to be a lack of high powered horses chasing them at any juncture. I can recall a host of prior 2-year-old pacing races that were wild showcases of 10-horse fields going at it from start to finish. On Saturday night the favorites made the top and the races were essentially over.

I thought the best performance by a losing horse on Saturday night at Mohawk came from J K Endofanera. Used twice in a :25 2/5 opening quarter, the 4-year-old parked Foiled Again to a :53 1/5 half and then chased from a distance as race-winner State Treasurer blew out a :26 2/5 third quarter. The son of Art Major, driven on Saturday by Brett Miller, dug in gamely throughout the stretch and managed to hold on to fourth in the Canadian Pacing Derby.

Iron Mine Bucky, a horse we profiled in last week’s column, finished third from post eight in the final Pennsylvania Sire Stakes event for juvenile trotting colts and geldings at The Meadows on Friday. It was a brave effort for the colt but driver George Dennis did the horse no favors by first taking off the gate at the start and then electing to take the long road to the front at the quarter. That extended move put Iron Mine Bucky in motion and Dennis never seemed to be able to slow down the fractions. The loss may put him out of the final but a return to an off the pace steer could return him to the winner’s circle in short order.

Lost For Words probably put in the best start of his career from post eight in Saturday’s Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Championship at Pocono. Driver Dave Miller tried to steal the race on the backstretch and gain separation from Wakizashi Hanover and for a short time appeared to have the favorite in jeopardy. Wakizashi Hanover recovered to score in 1:48 1/5 and Lost For Words had to settle for third behind My Hero Ron. While it was a tough burn Lost For Words appears perfectly primed for the Little Brown Jug for trainer Brian Brown.

Wakizashi Hanover would have to supplement to race in the Jug at Delaware, Ohio and that’s something that may have more risk than actual reward. The Delaware County Fairgrounds half-mile oval is unforgiving to those that draw poorly. Supplementing a horse does not come with a post position guarantee.

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Joel Weiner More than 1 year ago
They have judges at Yonkers? Wow, I didn't know that. Surprised they didn't get mad at Trond for waking them up and making them do something.
Terry Trent More than 1 year ago
I thought same thing watching race that night that there was, reason for inquiry. Got mad changed channel thinking they didn't catch it
Jeff Biever More than 1 year ago
Why a trainer at the very top level of the sport-who is assured of receiving well-bred yearlings and top racehorses for years to come, can repeatedly whine and make statements without any class, is beyond me. Hall of Shame candidate rather than his current perch. As a fan for 50 years, I find his statements unprecedented.