02/25/2015 12:15PM

Jerardi: When in doubt, stewards should let the result stand


It now appears that my plan to eliminate stewards is not going to be adopted. It could all be so much simpler. First horse to the wire wins. No controversy.

One of the first stories I ever wrote was a freelance piece for the now-defunct Baltimore News-American about the Maryland stewards not long after the 1980 Codex-Genuine Risk Preakness controversy. It was an examination of their duties and how they arrived at decisions. I observed a lot, conducted a few interviews, and read the rules of racing. My memory is that I typed a lot of words and ended up with few answers.

Who were these people? How did they get appointed? What were their qualifications? What were the rules they followed to determine if the order of finish should be changed?

The story questioned everything about the stewards, not specifically the decision to leave Codex up in the Preakness. That was just the impetus for an idea that had been formulating ever since I started becoming a track regular a few years before.

I specifically remember a race where I stood to win a few thousand dollars when a horse at Pimlico ridden by a young apprentice named Kenny Black went wire to wire and was never near another horse at any time. An objection was made by the rider of the second-place finisher. The winner was taken down with no explanation.

This may be hard to believe, but back then, replays of races that involved objections, inquiries, or disqualifications were not shown. Stewards, aka “judges,” just were not questioned.

The winning jockey became Bill Passmore, aka “The Undertaker.” I wasn’t sure what had just happened or why, but I knew it was not right and determined that I would try to find out what went down. I never did, but I had a working theory.

By the way, the day it was announced at Laurel that Passmore would be retiring as a jockey, the entire place booed. He was made a steward.

As you can imagine, my 1980 story was quite controversial, as in “who is this kid to question the stewards?”

Well, here it is 35 years later, and I am still questioning the stewards, still wondering why my obvious solution to the problem continues to be ignored. If nobody really knows what decisions are based on, what we have is chaos.

Which brings us to the Fountain of Youth and a suggestion that, if the stewards are not going to be eliminated, try this: If it is not obvious to absolutely everybody, make no change.

Just because something happens does not mean anything has to be done. I was working the Maryland at Penn State basketball game Feb. 14. Late in the game, two big players ended up on the floor for no apparent reason. The official, sensing something untoward had happened, called an illegal screen on the Penn State player. The referee did not really know what had happened. He just felt obligated to make a call. A replay showed that the Maryland player had actually locked his arm inside the Penn State player’s arm and pulled him to the ground, not an easy play to see in real time. The official got the play completely wrong. The Penn State coach went crazy and eventually got fined for his postgame comments. What the ref should have done was nothing. If you can’t be sure, why take a stand?

There is zero chance that the Gulfstream Park stewards were certain that Upstart had committed a foul in the Fountain of Youth, but they took him down anyway. Yes, something happened, but what was it exactly, and what did it really mean? I have no answers, and neither do they.

Unlike in team sports, calls in horse racing are obviously even more important. Outcomes are not changed after the fact in other sports. They are changed all the time in horse racing. If that is going to continue, please adopt a standard that when, if there is any doubt at all, the original result stands.

Robert Walton More than 1 year ago
You have no clue. You want to let the jockey do whatever he wants. Your proposal would ruin horse racing and cause more injuries. Share Belief should have been Horse of the Year!
Kip Sudduth More than 1 year ago
What about later in the day when the exact same thing happened and there was a change. The inconsistencies these bozos are perpetrating on the betting public should be investigated. There should be a national stewards foundation of riders, agents, owners, and punters, especially with major races. When Frosted came over on Upstart, people around me said....' oh, that's racing,' but when Upstart swerved to his right as a result there was jostly with pletcher's horse who had come in...that is to Upstart's lane. The aftermath then is easy to see.....come in on a horse and the tendency is to hold ground by moving towards the infraction. That's why it took so long. They were not in agreement. With Upstart winning by an extended three - four lengths there is no way that horse would have caught or gone by. In the later race they did not put the chalk up because what.....it was only racing. Look back at the races. I hope you all make pletchers horse more favorite in the Florida derby, I'l fade your bets.
racetrackandy More than 1 year ago
I guess my boy "Sid" ain't coming back. Too bad. My guess is that he's indirectly or directly employed by the Game or he's one of those Horseplayers who gets mad when someone near them has a strong opinion and wins. C'mon "Sid". I'm your huckleberry.......
racetrackandy More than 1 year ago
Dear Sidd (LOL) Ummmm yes, I think I know that the Stewards don't write the charts. I guess the person who does just made up the language in Caps. AFTER REVIEWING THE FILMS THE STEWARDS CONCLUDED THAT THE OUTCOME WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN ALTERED AND MADE NO CHANGE. The whole issue is consistency and the Gulfstream Stewards have none. I could care less what they're rule is they weren't consistent in applying the rule. The overwhelming majority of people agree with me (and yes there is a poll). And by the way Gamblers should never be penalized for reckless race riding unless it caused another horse to lose a placing. The rider should be fined and it should be a fine that hurts. I'd fine the rider of Upstart whatever he earned for his second place finish. Herding by going left handed to the extreme should cost him whatever he earned for finishing second and that money should go to the disable jockeys fund. I think that would stop a lot of the reckless riding don't you?
TEDK215 More than 1 year ago
Andy, I think you missed your true calling in life, being a lawyer. honestly, you could argue that the Boston area didn't get the most snow in their history this winter.
racetrackandy More than 1 year ago
LOL. I'm just a Horseplayer and Horseplayer advocate who wants to see the game grow not shrink. Too many people in charge are fine with the status quo and are industry apologists. Good luck.
Richard Kennedy More than 1 year ago
BS DISQUALIFICATION! Upstart's stock didn't d rop.
[removed] More than 1 year ago
This comment has been deleted
racetrackandy More than 1 year ago
Exactly. A big fine for reckless riding and if the infraction didn't alter the order of finish leave the horse up unless the incident cost the other horse a placing to a certainty of 90%
harpharper . More than 1 year ago
Bayern did worse.
Vince Piscitelli More than 1 year ago
Stewards are human. They wager, and some a lot, just like you and me. Now if you wagered on Pletcher's nag in the FOY, and you were a steward, I guarantee you 117% that you would also have taken down Upstart. The bottom line is that stewards are normal plungers like you and I and I have no problem with them making or not making a decision based primarily on their wagers. But they should be consistent about it. Vince P
scott maly More than 1 year ago
you're kidding right...a steward being allowed to make a bet on a race at his track is like saying russell wilson could've walked into a sportsbook and bet on the patriots.... i really hope you were being sarcastic vince or you're not too bright
Joel Firsching More than 1 year ago
There are no stewards watching the kentucky derby. Madness. Dont bet on the last race of the day. The stewards want to go home.
racetrackandy More than 1 year ago
Hey sidd, how about using your real name instead of hiding. Not much confidence that your real name will help your cause. Brave as can be.
racetrackandy More than 1 year ago
or better yet you can follow me on twitter. Looking forward to it. LOL
racetrackandy More than 1 year ago
Or do I already have you blocked?