11/02/2014 3:34PM

Stewards explain why no disqualification in BC Classic

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Nikki Sherman
Shared Belief was bumped and had to check within the first quarter-mile of the Breeders' Cup Classic, but stewards ruled that neither event cost him a better placing in the race.

ARCADIA, Calif .- Steward Scott Chaney spoke for 20 minutes at a press conference in the Santa Anita press box on Sunday morning, discussing the decision not to alter the order of finish in Saturday’s $4.6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic after race winner Bayern drifted to the inside shortly after the start and collided with race favorite Shared Belief.

The stewards focused their decision on whether Shared Belief was cost a placing when he was bumped by Bayern or when he checked behind Toast of New York in the opening quarter-mile.

Bayern led throughout to win by a nose over Toast of New York, who finished a neck in front of California Chrome. Shared Belief closed from sixth after the early incident to finish fourth, 3 3/4 lengths behind Bayern.

“From the start, we saw some rough contact at the start of the race, we continued to watch the race as we do and got the numbers up [on the tote board],” Chaney said.

“We got an all-clear from our quick official. No rider objected. We went back and looked at the start and saw the incident.  We hung the inquiry sign and conducted our normal inquiry. These are governed by a specific rule –  No. 1699 – which involves, number one, was there interference?, and number two, did it cost the horse interfered with the opportunity for a better placing at a specific point in the race?.”

“We all agreed that No. 7 Bayern, the eventual winner, broke in, and we had to determine whether it cost No. 6 Shared Belief or No. 4 Moreno an opportunity for a better placing. We spoke with Mike Smith [who rode Shared Belief] and Martin Garcia [Bayern] and conferred.

The [television] shots you saw were the shots that we saw in real time. We voted unanimously. We voted it didn’t happen at a point that it was reasonable to speculate that they didn’t finish in a position where they would be reasonably expected to have finished.”

Chaney said the stewards did not talk to Javier Castellano, who rode Moreno, who was eased.  Chaney said that Moreno contributed to the bumping incident early in the race when the horse drifted to the outside “a half a path or so and contributed to the incident. We can’t blame him for the lion’s share of the interference, but he was responsible for part of it.”

Chaney said the focus of the inquiry was on the second clause of rule No. 1699 that states, “a horse shall not interfere with or cause any other horse to lose stride, ground, or position in a part of the race where the horse loses the opportunity to place where it might be reasonably expected to finish.”

Chaney stressed that while interference was established, the second clause of rule was not violated.

The stewards also reviewed a separate incident about 150 yards farther into the race when eventual runner-up Toast of New York drifted to the inside, causing Shared Belief to be checked.

“He causes some interference,” Chaney said. “It was a lot less interference from the start. If it was the only ([interference], it wouldn’t have been enough to change the order of finish.”

On Sunday, the stewards took no action against Garcia for his ride on Bayern. On Friday, the stewards at Del Mar will speak with jockey Rafael Bejarano for his ride in the BC Classic on Footbridge, who drifted in about 150 yards into the race and may have led to an incident in which Shared Belief was checked by jockey Mike Smith.

Chaney acknowledged that there is some subjectivity built into the interpretation of rule No. 1699.

“People say stewards shouldn’t have that flexibility,” he said.

He said a former rule was stricter in its interpretation.

“If you foul another horse, you’re automatically disqualified,” he said. “We’ve gotten away from that. The current rule requires us to make some determination if the horse is cost a better placing.

“The casual fan sees racing interference and expects someone to be punished. While some folks think the rule applied in this case led to an inequitable result, over time it’s a more equitable rule.

“This is a big decision. It’s analysis we go through every day. If this was the sixth race on a Thursday afternoon, the analysis would be the same. We were all very confident in the analysis.”