(b) A horse crossing another may be disqualified, if in the judgment of the stewards, it interferes with, impedes or intimidates another horse, or the foul altered the finish of the race, regardless of whether the foul was accidental, willful, or the result of careless riding. The stewards may also take into consideration mitigating factors, such as whether the impeded horse was partly at fault or the crossing was wholly caused by the fault of some other horse or jockey.
The stewards who oversee racing at the New York Racing Association tracks have typed these words an awful lot since July of 2010, when they began to produce written reports of their decisions following any inquiry or objection. It is this rule that they consider carefully when deciding whether to alter the official order of finish in a race.
Following my post a couple of weeks ago about the NHL’s new approach to explaining disciplinary decisions, the stewards at Belmont invited me to talk to them about the work they do. At any time, three stewards are working at the NYRA tracks: one appointed by the Jockey Club, one by the State Racing and Wagering Board, and one by NYRA. I spoke with Dr. Ted Hill (Jockey Club), Carmine Donofrio (RWB), Stephen Lewandowski (RWB), and Braulio Baeza, Jr. (NYRA).
The stewards’ reports at Belmont, Saratoga, and Aqueduct are unique in this country; while the California Horse Racing Board issues written reports on its decisions, they don’t come out immediately after the race, and they often don’t come out until a day or two later. The system at the NYRA tracks is designed to let bettors know right away why a horse or was not disqualified.
Yet since the system’s inception, some bettors and racing fans (including this one) have been dissatisfied with what the stewards have given us, wanting more details and explanation for their decisions than they’ve been providing.
The stewards spoke at length about their process for making a decision. They watch the video replay from a variety of angles. They talk to the jockeys involved. They consult the rule book. They talk to each other. And the primary question they consider is: did the incident cost a horse a placing?
And if, in their opinion, the answer to that question is “yes,” they issue a disqualification.
Given their unique position in the racing world, the New York stewards have few, if any, models for the reports that they write, and they welcomed feedback on how those reports are received by the racing public. They like the idea of linking their reports to a video of the incident in question, and they seek further suggestions for how their reports could more fully explain their decisions to the betting public.
So here’s your chance. Check out Stewards’ Corner and the weekly recap, and then come back here and let me – and the stewards – know what else you’d like to see.
The four gentlemen (and I use that word deliberately) were incredibly gracious in offering me feedback on my post, in explaining to me their work, and in soliciting further suggestions. Let us treat them in kind and offer serious, thoughtful, reasonable, polite comments and suggestions. Though I seldom moderate comments, those that are otherwise will be removed. The stewards are giving us a heck of an opportunity here, and let’s take good advantage of it.