11/27/2016 2:25PM

Racing officials meet over Jimmy Durante Stakes mishap

Benoit & Associates
Journey Home, ridden by Drayden Van Dyke, wins the Jimmy Durante Stakes by 1 1/4 lengths Saturday.

DEL MAR, Calif. – Del Mar officials and track stewards met Sunday morning to see what could be learned from the unusual situation in the Grade 3 Jimmy Durante Stakes on Saturday, when protective pads blew onto the turf course during a rainstorm and forced a number of the runners to try to dodge them.

Luis Jauregui, who as safety steward oversees the racing board’s safety measures on-site, said finding a better way of securing the foam pads – used to cover drainage grates inside the inner rail of the turf course – would be addressed, as well as looking internally at better prerace practices for stewards and patrol judges, who, like Jauregui, are employed by the California Horse Racing Board.

“The foam pads got so wet it seems the Velcro loosened,” Jauregui said. “We will have to figure a better way to secure them.

“Whatever we ask Del Mar to do, they always do,” said Jauregui, who said Kim Jacobson, Del Mar’s director of risk management, is his contact person at the track. “This will get resolved.”

Videotapes from the seven-furlong patrol tower were inconclusive as to when the pads blew onto the course.

“They might have blown out there just as the gate opened. We just don’t know,” said Scott Chaney, who along with Grant Baker and Kim Sawyer are Del Mar’s stewards at this meet. “We’re happy no one was hurt.”

Chaney said stewards, patrol judges, and outriders are entrusted to scan the course before every race to make sure there are no obstacles and with more seemingly mundane tasks, like double checking that the starting gate is in the proper position. On Saturday, some paper blew onto the course on the backstretch before the Grade 2 Seabiscuit and was promptly removed.

“At Santa Anita earlier this year, an outrider alerted us to a snake on the course,” Chaney said.

The stewards let the original result of the Durante stand. Had they ruled the race a “no contest,” all wagers would have been refunded, and no purse money would have been paid out, per CHRB rules.