Controversial Calls: Stewards’ Rulings Need More Transparency, Accountability

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Major League Baseball's Joe Torre and umpires held a press conference following a game-deciding call in the 2013 World Series Major League Baseball's Joe Torre and umpires held a press conference following a game-deciding call in the 2013 World Series

Remember Game 3 of the 2013 World Series, the one that ended with an obstruction call, giving the St. Louis Cardinals a 5-4 win over the Boston Red Sox after it appeared the game would be going into extra innings when Allen Craig was thrown out at home plate?

It was one of the most unusual and controversial endings ever seen in a World Series.

What followed after the game should be a lesson for horse racing when it comes to controversy and our game’s “umpires” – the stewards. The baseball umpires didn’t lock their doors and avoid the media, permitting them and the public to speculate on why a called out at home plate suddenly was turned into the winning run. They didn’t issue a terse statement explaining the rule and what they saw.


Instead, Major League Baseball held a press conference, brought out the chief of that game’s umpiring crew, the two umpires directly involved in the call, and Joe Torre, MLB’s executive vice president of baseball operations.

They explained the rule. They explained what they saw, and how they interpreted the rule in that instance. They answered questions from the media. There was complete transparency.

Let’s contrast this to what happened at Gulfstream Park last Saturday, when a disqualification in the day’s final event cost an unnamed horseplayer a $1.66-million payday in the track’s Rainbow 6 jackpot bet.

According to Andy Beyer, writing in the Washington Post, stewards who made the call refused to talk about it, instead issuing a two sentence statement that read: “A horse must maintain a straight path down the lane so as not to impede, interfere or intimidate another horse. [Collinito] did not maintain a straight path and was not clear and put the other horse on his heels, forcing the jockey to stop riding twice and possibly costing him a position.”

There was no further explanation, no opportunity to ask questions about the incident, no video replays with the stewards explaining how and where the first-place finisher, Collinito, may have cost runner-up Strategic Keeper the win.

The public was left to speculate, and their imagination ran wild. While the biggest loser was the horseplayer who saw a potentially life-changing score disappear, Gulfstream Park and the sport itself suffered from the lack of transparency.

I’m not going to speculate about whether the call was good or bad. I don’t know what the regulations are in Florida, or if there are specific rules pertaining to what should lead to a disqualification. In some racing jurisdictions, a foul is a foul whether or not it costs the affected horse a placing. In most states, it’s left to the stewards’ discretion to determine that, and they rule accordingly.

This was a teachable moment, and it is hoped that Gulfstream Park and other tracks learn from it. Stewards may work for the racing association or the state (in this case, two stewards are employed by Gulfstream Park and the third is appointed by the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering), but they are accountable to those with a vested interest in the game: horse owners, trainers, jockeys, and the horseplayers whose wagering dollars drive the sport.

Do we need a press conference every time there is an inquiry or an objection in a race? Of course not. That’s not practical. But stewards can not and should not be allowed to sequester themselves after something of this magnitude occurs.

Furthermore, why not take a lead from California, where stewards are required to file a weekly report that is posted on the California Horse Racing Board website? Whether you agree or disagree with their decision (and, let’s face it, many of these cases boil down to judgment calls), you at least know why they took the action they did.

There is a significant difference between Major League Baseball and horse racing. One has structure, a league office, and national rules, and the other has none of those things. But Gulfstream Park and its owner, The Stronach Group, have made an enormous commitment to horse racing, have a mission that focuses on integrity, and have shown leadership in other aspects of the sport. This is an area where they can set a new standard for excellence and build confidence in their customer base.

Would a video explanation or press conference by stewards change how you view their rulings?

View Results

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  • Richard C

    If you want transparency, stick a camera or two in the room — so anyone with the feed can watch the stewards hashing things out. Open availability to the media is also a must — and that does not mean some track PR hack getting ready to pen “stories” for the facility’s website.

  • AngelaFromAbilene

    Excellent comparison Ray and spot on. Had they held a press conference, there would not have been all the nasty things said. Simply explaining their rulings is not to much to ask from any group of Stewards.

  • Dan Camoro

    Is Horse Racing the only sport in America in which each State that the sport is conducted in can make their own rules? It just might be? Let’s put all these self interests aside and develop National standards and rules. Let’s also withhold payouts until the powers that be can make the call right. I’d gladly put my tickets in my wallet, if I had to, and wait for the right call, even if it took some time.

    • http://judgebork.wordpress.com Lou Baranello Former Steward

      Mr. Camoro’s suggestion certainly has merit.

    • Jay Stone

      The only way this sport survives is with universal rules and enforcement. Each jurisdiction having their own rules and regulations doesn’t work anymore in this world of transparency and social media. If the powers that be don’t unify and give control and regulation to one unifying office we will continue to have the drug and enforcement problems that exist now

    • Justadumashorseplayer

      It’s also the only sport in the World with an imaginary Finish Line!!! The Wire os and 1/8 of an inch…the Mirror is 7″ in Diameter….where’s the finish line!!!!!!

      • Marshall Cassidy

        Within the photofinish camera itself, accurately placed perpendicularly to the racing surfaces, immediately above the nominal “Finish Lines.” With such an arrangement the traditional Finish Line, or wire, serves only to aide the jockey’s timing generally, and does not actually indicate the ending point of any race, dirt or turf.

        The photofinish technician processes the film or videotape immediately after each race and presents the finished image to the track’s placing judges, whose job it is to determine the exact order of finish by viewing the photofinish film or videotape.

        This image captures accurately what the camera “sees” as each horse passes beneath the camera; the four-inch wide inner-rail mirror merely provides a view from the opposite side of each horse as that horse passes by.

        In fact, the camera’s internal “finish line” is no wider than the narrowest line-depiction possible at all lens magnifications.

        I know this all sounds a bit overdone, but I thought you should be technically informed for the argumentative value in continuing this story’s objections.

        • RayPaulick

          Thanks, Marshall. Much appreciated.

        • Hamish

          Is there more than one photo finish camera involved, such as one for the dirt and one for the turf?

          • Zippy Chippy

            Typically, there are two cameras for each surface– a main camera and an auxiliary camera. The auxiliary camera is there as a back-up, just in case the main camera should fail for any reason.

          • Hamish

            But there is never a situation where there is more than 1 camera angle looking at the same finish?

          • Zippy Chippy

            Like Marshall said, the cameras are stacked on top of each other over the finish line. One camera may be a little bit higher than the other camera, which changes the vertical angle of the image (looking down on the line), but it doesn’t change the angle of the camera to the wire. They both give you the same result, just one is from a slightly higher angle.

          • Marshall Cassidy

            Once again, I missed your response. Sorry.

          • Marshall Cassidy

            Hi, Hamish,

            No, and yes: No in that there is but one ideal location for any photofinish camera, and that is precisely above the nominal Finish Line, not before it and not after it as the horses travel from left to right — or, from right to left where races are run clockwise; and Yes, where a race track presents more than one racing surface, such as one or more turf courses or a winter track in addition to the Main Track. So, you do have the main idea, Hamish.

            At NYRA tracks Aqueduct, Belmont Park and Saratoga, Don Moorehouse has a metal rack of four photofinish cameras stacked vertically, all aiming at a point about two feet inside the inner rail of each race course below. At Belmont Park that would be one Main Track, two Turf Courses and one backup camera to be used in an emergency; at Aqueduct that would be one Main Track, one Winter Track, one Turf Course and one backup camera; at Saratoga Race Course that would be one Main Track, two Turf Courses and one backup. Don very meticulously calibrates all his equipment, including the inner-rail mirrors, on a daily basis.

            Certainly, I cannot comment about many other racing jurisdictions, but in my experience, this is how the business of presenting photofinish pictures is achieved around the country, and presumably around the world.

        • jazz mania

          But how does the background get smeared into an unidentifiable blur at so many tracks. As a Photographer with experience in high speed film and video, I know of no logical reason for this. Racing needs to clean up its image and inconsistent calls, inconsistent penalties for trainer violations and “trick” photography are all parts of the problem.

          • Zippy Chippy

            The background appears “smeared” because the film is moving at about the same speed as the horses to capture their image as they cross the wire. Since the background is fixed and not moving, its image is constant as the film is being exposed, resulting in a “smeared” appearance of whatever is behind the horses.

          • Marshall Cassidy

            Zippy Chippy, you said it better than I. Sorry I didn’t see your response.

          • Marshall Cassidy

            Hi, jazz mania,

            Your observation reflects your experience in the normal practice of photography, whereby there is not normally a difference between the detailed resolutions of foreground and background. A still photo renders similar depiction of both while the camera is held motionless; a motion picture photo will isolate and more accurately record the details of the moving subject while the camera moves along with that subject, and the background tends to become blurred with the camera’s motion in comparison.

            In the practice of photofinish photography the whole theory is tweaked by the mechanics of the camera itself. I am not knowledgeable of the modern technology that governs today’s still and motion picture cameras. But, I am familiar with the more basic technology of camera equipment that was used when the photofinish camera was devised sixty-some years ago.

            Originally, and practically until about 1990, the first photofinish camera was constructed with a vertical-slit aperture as opposed to an expanding pin-hole aperture with an articulated iris. Additionally, the first photofinish camera was equipped with a motion-picture-like film canister spooled on the left and right sides of the lens.

            During the final hundred yards or so of a race the photofinish camera would be activated so the film could travel across the back side of the vertical-slit aperture at a horizontal speed approximating the image speed of the horses racing past the Finish Line down below. Consequently, the camera’s film would accurately record the images of MOVING OBJECTS only; the motionless and unanimated dirt or turf background would necessarily appear as blurry nonsense relative to the moving horses because the film would be moving and the background would not. This is why you sometimes can see exaggerated horse legs that have accidentally been photographed by the photofinish camera when they happen to be in mid-motion rather than striding briskly to the front or to the rear.

            Lighting is very important to the successful recording of a photofinish picture because of the unalterable distance that exists between the running horses and the photographic equipment on the grandstand roof. Sometimes at Saratoga Race Course, when a summer storm passes through during the running of a race and the skies are dark as can be, the track’s otherwise high-powered arc lamps that are situated above the photofinish equipment higher up on the roof and are not always strong enough for the lighting conditions, the resultant photofinish picture for that race can become almost unusably dark.

            No, I don’t know all about the electronics and mechanisms of modern cameras, but I’m quite sure today’s photofinish cameras operate with similar principals because the resultant photofinish pictures resemble the old examples, though they are now in color and are made from videotape.

            As to Racing’s need to clean up its image, its inconsistent calls and penalties, jazz mania, you’re absolutely right. At least two of Racing’s greatest liabilities have got to be its apparent dependence upon pharmaceutical assistance and its apparent lack of professionality. Each and both together are able to destroy our game. What a shame!

  • Andrew A.

    Did you just write that 2 of the Stewards are employed by Gulfstream? Is that correct or is that a mistake?

    • RayPaulick

      In many states, one or more stewards are employees of the racing association.

      • Andrew A.

        This is unacceptable and a conflict of interest. If the Stewards are employees of Gulfstream then Gulfstream could have ordered them to give an interview. At this point this needs to be investigated by an impartial party. I spoke to Ritvo for 20 minutes. We had a good conversation and he said he was on the phone but not with the Stewards. I believe him but after learning the Stewards are employees I’d for someone to look at the phone records of everyone involved. Can Gulfstream employees bet? Is it a look the other way policy?

        This stinks!

  • Dave

    This shouldn’t be all that difficult. Watch the videos that the National Hockey League puts out

    when they suspend a player for an illegal hit. It shows the video of the incident with a voiceover explaining the relevant rules, mitigating factors, etc. Not everyone agrees with the NHL’s suspensions, any more than they do for DQ’s, but at least the NHL explains their reasoning.

    The video should be a split-screen, time-synched pan and head-on view, which I assume the stewards have available to them when they make the call. Showing the pan and head-on view separately isn’t sufficient. In a typical case, the head-on better shows the foul occurring, while the pan better shows the results of the foul. You need both of them in synch.

    The voiceover then needs to cite the rules involved, and the steward interpretation.

  • kyle

    As the stewards quoted that part of the Florida rules that has to do with how a “clear leader” must be ridden I will assume they considered the leader clear. The rule then says, (and they do quote the wording of the rule but I think they misinterpret the language) that the leader while entitled to any part of the course “can not be ridden SO AS TO impede, interfere or intimidate.” “So as to” connotes deliberateness. It’s my reading of the rules they would need to find Saez rode as to deliberately impede, interfere or intimidate the trailing horse. Does anybody think Saez did that?

    • kyle

      I would add, a rider riding with a lack of care could also be said to be riding “so as to.” But again, is Saez riding with a lack of care here?

    • Mike Dorr

      I believe Saez did get a 3-day suspension for the incident, so someone thought so

      • kyle

        Three days for “careless riding?” Or, failure to maintain a straight course…or some such thing? If it’s the latter – and I think most would agree it didn’t rise to the former – it’s my contention a dq isn’t justified. Either way, as to the point of the story, more clarification was and is needed.

  • Andrew A.

    Jockeys attempt to intimidate all the time. It’s called race riding.
    Horses don’t keep a straight course in EVERY race. If you’re in a bad
    spot it’s called bad racing luck. What’s next? Should we mandate that
    Jockeys should let horses through on the rail or not pin them in during a
    race. That changes the outcome doesn’t it.

    Get the Stewards out of the business of picking winners and losers as much as possible.

    • betterthannothing

      Who should prevent dirty and dangerous riding by punishing jockeys?

      • Andrew A.

        Of course they should suspended and/or find for endangering others. Not sure what your’e getting at.

    • Mike

      Andrew, I like your first comment, the fact that there is such a thing as race riding and racing luck but, if you get rid of the stewards who will decide whether it is race riding or careless riding. The rule that a foul is a foul is also the dumbest rule you can have and in jurisdictions that have or had it, I have seen some really dumb interpretations of it. All this discussion brings to the question, how well trained are our stewards and what are there qualifications. And, just because you hear that they have qualified from the University of Louisville or Arizona does not make them good stewards. Remember they are schools and have you known schools graduate dumb students for whatever political reason. The position of steward once had an air of respectability attached to it. Not any more. That respectability has been eroded over the years partially by the people who have been appointed to the position and by the people that appointed them. AS for transparency that works both ways to. Have you any idea how many nuts there are out there. People, who no matter how clearly you explain a decision to them only see conspiracy. I have been involved in many, many inquiries and objections. I can honestly say I have rarely known the particulars of the parties involved. To stewards they are horse “A’ or horse “B” or just numbers. But, of course, the conspiracy theorists will never believe that.

  • betterthannothing

    Transparency and accountability are needed from start to finish!

    Uniform rules and strictly enforced safety and anti-fraud protocols are needed to protect horses (and riders), and boost quality and integrity. Horses need security, surveillance around barns, inside stalls and vans, off-competition soundness monitoring, seamless substance and treatment control, transparent medical records from birth as well as transparency and accountability from regulatory veterinarians to stewards to necropsy results.

    • Tinky

      Presumably you plan to fund such a plan.

  • Andrew A.

    Ray, you should put a poll up asking if it’s a conflict of interest for 2 of the stewards to be employed by Gulfstream and not the state.

    • Jay Stone

      Andrew, my only comment on this would be if you want this state filling up the steward’s stand with political appointes instead of experienced officials you have no idea the catastrophe your asking for. With all due respect to some state people this would be opening Pandora’s box

      • Andrew A.

        The Stewards in California work for the California Horse Racing Board. I can’t believe you think it’s OK for the Stewards to be employees of Gulfstream.

  • Hamish

    The Stronach Group has a large veted interest in horse racing, and Mr. Stronach’s breeding operations are strong contributors to our well bred Thoroughbred population. As executives withing this organization think this unfortunate situation through, my guess is cooler heads prevail and the accountabilty and transparency that we all are looking for here surfaces.

  • Joel

    A press conference would be a joke! Nobody wants a prepared speech with the intention of softening the blow. We need “stewardship” from an outside contract which has no affiliation with the racetrack that stands to influence their own revenue with the “official” result. It’s preposterous to think that 2 of the 3 stewards involved are employed by the same track that stands to benefit immensely from the decision to take down the natural winner. Are we the horse players supposed to just “trust” that OUR best interest are in mind, when DQ’ing a horse, over the best interest of their own revenue??? Nope…..I will NEVER trust that!

  • south florida tom

    There should be 5 stewards at each track employed by a national racing association and not employed by the track they are assigned to. When they are assigned the track at which to work, they should not know each other. The track will at least not be accused of nepotism or putting buddies together in the stewards booth. Not that anything nefarious will happen, but the track will protect itself from a public indictment.

  • joe john

    This is the part of horseracing that is fixed 100 percent the mob or the corporate doesn’t want a nobody to win the big jackpot !!! Its a shame I love this sport more than life itself but I tell regular people not to play the jackpots because its a rigged casino !! Oh my G-D Im sounding like that Moore guy who I cant stomach but in this case Im right. You can still play this game its awesome just not the pick six .

  • robet little t tuccille

    ray this is the thing the people that make the calls are not ex-jockeys or horse men,,,, and track to track jockey to jockey is never the same out come!!! in the nfl nba nhl all have the rules and a foul is a foul…. no mater who it is …. and that the end of the day the bettor is the only one that gets hurt.. there is no one looking out for the bettor!!!! and with out the bettor there is no horse racing…..

  • joe john

    That’s the second time at la downs last year it happened with the late scratch we were laughing but we felt so bad for the guys who got screwed. The host track should have contacted them and sent them to Veagas for a week on the house but they probably gave him a voucher for a stale buffet and laughed in his face its a shame.

  • Jay Stone

    This discussion about how a steward’s stand should be comprised is interesting as long as it gets away from the conspiracy talk. This part of the game hasn’t evolved with social media. With a national group controlling racing maybe an independent group of stewards that answer to that organization instead of the individual tracks might work. What you are doing is making the stewards the same as the umpires and refs in pro sports that answer to the league rather than the teams. To do this you have to have a unifying, controlling group and that’s a long way away. The ammount of stewards is less important than the consistency and quality of their opinions. To expect the present groups to have news conferences and explain their decisions is not going to happen now.

  • Tinky

    While there are many broader aspects of the story that deserve attention and discussion, I continue to be amazed at the vitriol being hurled at the stewards in the context of particular decision.

    What Ray snidely refers to as their “two sentence statement” actually both summed up and described the basis of their call rather clearly and concisely. The horse did drift out, and the second-place finisher did appear to lose momentum as a result.

    Now, would it have been preferable to have them respond to questions, etc.? Sure. But it’s not as if they made some baseless decision, locked themselves into a room and shut off the phones, leaving the injured parties perplexed.

    • Jay Stone

      That pretty well sums it up. If this wasn’t the end of a perfect pick six this decision would never be discussed for more than five minutes. There are broader implications to the industry than this dq and they are know being openly discussed but the name calling and negative rhetoric accomplishes little.

    • RayPaulick

      “Snidely?”

      • Tinky

        At the risk of sounding cartoonish, this is one of the rare instances in which you more closely resemble Snidely Wiplash than Dudley Do-Right.

        • rpdflyer

          Tinky .. Key phase in your comment – ‘did appear to lose momentum as a result.’ Sorry – ‘appearing to ‘ is simply not good enough. Simply not good enough. ‘Lose momentum ‘ is also a very squishy phrase. They took someone’s money away because another horse ‘lost momentum ‘!! You got to be kidding me. Its a freaking horse race and there needs to be an indisputable violation.

          • Tinky

            It is absurd to suggest that there must be an “indisputable” violation in order to DQ a horse. There have been countless instances – this being one of them – in which subjective judgment MUST play a role.

            The second-place finisher actually did lose momentum, although I didn’t phrase it that strongly. The other salient fact is that the winner did drift out. The subjective part comes in when the stewards have to decide whether the winner was well clear of the other horse, or whether Paco Lopez was justified in altering course as a result of the drifting.

            You can argue either side of those questions, but racing has never had a history of DQs being the sole result of “indisputable” violations.

          • rpdflyer

            I understand what you are saying but basically disagree. Just like in foortball you need indisputable vdeo evidence to overturn a call, the same should apply to overturining the results of a horse race. Horses that are clear have every right to move into the path of a trailing horse, etc and there are many reasons a trailing horse and jockey might respond in a certain way. If there is any doubt then stewards need to let the race stand.

    • we’re watching

      I did not hear Ray “snidely” refer to anything, I read him stating a fact.

      • Tinky

        Perhaps you should read his following paragraph:

        “There was no further explanation, no opportunity to ask questions about the incident, no video replays with the stewards explaining how and where the first-place finisher, Collinito, may have cost runner-up Strategic Keeper the win.”

  • rpdflyer

    Ray, I appreciate your highlighting this topic. Certainly one of the most frustrating things about racing is ithe inconsistency and ‘wizard of oz’ quality regarding stewards. They should have to publicly explain any change of order in a horse race. In being forced to do that, they may well decide to adopt a more hands-off approach and only DQ a horse in obvious cases – cases that would make sense to the casual fan.
    Changing the order in a horse race should be done only when there is absolutely clear evidence and no uncertainly about the chain of events that caused the foul. This has not been true of so many recent disqualificatoins. There should be no general discussion like the Gulfstream incident where we are reading phrases like ‘ I can see it both ways’ or ‘Its a 50-50 call.’ Those type of reactions indicate that there should be no DQ. Stewards should require a unanimous vote to change the order ( I am not sure of each state’s policy regarding this ).
    In short, stewards need to be way more lenient than they are. The bettors are the lifeblood of the sport and none wants his or her money confiscated based on flimsy evidence. This issue is a serious one for racing and is hurting the sport.

    • Mike

      Brilliant, I could not agree more. Winning a race is difficult enough so there should be absolutely clear evidence and no uncertainty. From my experience the majority rules in stewards rulings but believe it or not, in some cases, the view of the state steward where there is one state and two association stewards, rules.

      • http://judgebork.wordpress.com Lou Baranello Former Steward

        Mike, I love your reply to rpdflyer. Also, you are right on with your criticism of the CHIEF STEWARD protocol. It stinks out loud! I don’t believe that is the case in Florida. They have one steward representing the racing commission and two representing Gulfstream Park and all three votes count, unlike Kentucky and New York where the CHIEF STEWARD says how it is.

  • jttf

    you shouldnt show the probable payoffs before the last race in the pick 6. jockeys have more incentive to change the results of the final race. they are human too. they like large payoffs. no one would have known that this takedown would have had that big of an impact on everyones feelings. it might even effect some stewards decisions.

  • Sal Carcia

    Are we kidding ourselves? If the stewards even acknowedged our existence, it would send out a wave of ecstasy on the horseracing twittersphere, blogosphere and forumsphere. :)

  • Allan Buck

    One question should be asked when there is interference. Was the horse that was interfered with put in physical jeopardy? If not then the drifting horse/jockey should not be taken down.

  • ace

    Ray, why in Maryland can a steward be the father of a trainer that has 16 horses in training in the same state ( Grove ) ?

    • Eric Singer

      Hi Ray,
      Please answer Ace’s question. In the interest of protecting the integrity of hardworking horsemen (Grove and Grove), could you explain to your anonymous audience how the racing business, or any other business for that matter, shields it’s customers from potential conflict of interest scenarios by recusing individuals in certain situations? Thanks!

    • RayPaulick

      When this issue came up in Ohio with jockey Deshawn Parker and his father, who was a steward, his father recused himself in races in which Deshawn rode. Whether or not that was the reason for doing so, Deshawn left Ohio to ride in West Virginia. It’s possible, if there is a fourth steward in Maryland, Mr. Grove may do the same as Mr. Parker’s father did.

  • Kcollinsworth

    Mr. Paulick, you list those who have a vested interest in horse racing, and, last on your list are the horseplayers. This comes as no surprise, not because the horseplayers deserve to be in the back of the bus, but because despite decades of lip service, at the end of the day horseplayers are taken for granted, disrespected and sadly enough at some tracks, ridiculed by low to mid level track employees who ought to know better, since their paychecks are made possible by the horseplayers that they look down upon. The two best days in my 41 years of betting racehorses were (A) When ADW wagering became legal in my state, so I did’nt have to go to the overpriced, run down tracks in my area to make any bets any more and (B) When I started betting with a legal rebate shop that provided people who wager 6 figures and up a year a fighting chance to make a steady profit at this game. As much as I respect the horse owners who take great financial risks to be involved at the ownership level (and without the tax breaks provided in this country until the mid 90s), as much as I respect the riders who risk life and limb every time they accept a mount, as much as I respect the underpaid stable staff who work long hours without proper compensation or health and dental coverage, I have the utmost respect for the horseplayers who indeed drive this industry, and without whom this sport could not exist. All the talk about teachable moments and accountability sounds like what politicans and others in positions of power trot out when something terrible has happened and they want to calm the public’s outrage. Mr. Paulick, I don’t know what your wagering pattern is, but I bet what most people would call sizeable amounts on horse races seven days a week, and I have a pragmatic, realistic viewpoint when it comes to considering the actual chances of any meaningful reform taking place in this game, a great game that I hate to see going downhill the way it is.

    • RayPaulick

      Many racing and track officials are daily readers of this website, so I am hopeful comments such as yours will make a difference.

      • Kcollinsworth

        Mr. Paulick, I thank you for your reply. I appreciate you allowing a free discussion of all issues without using a heavy hand against those who might disagree with you.

    • TONY

      under there guide lines u could take a horse down in almost every race run.

  • Hamish

    A week or so ago this forum praised The Jockey Club as the entity that could make a critical difference when necessary. Now, we face that moment on this issue, so where is TJC along with Ray who suggested TJC was our best hope when the industry was in crisis?

    • Andrew A.

      This is one of those times that people will never forget. People have to stand up for integrity. If not now then when?

  • jack

    Everybody wants answers from Ray because there is know one else too ask.F….. sad.

  • Ladyofthelake

    Everything in sports judging is subjective. Controversy in figure skating, pro football, horse racing, the Russians always win gold in rhythmic gymnastics even if the Italians/Romanians/Greeks et al have amazing routines. What else is new. This wouldn’t even be a story if a million dollar jackpot hadn’t been involved.

  • Sharpcat

    Ok so you have the owner of track running in a race, being judged by Stewards employed by the track. No conflict there!!

  • McGov

    Racing was likely the pioneer of the ‘video replay’ that affected final results and yet we still can’t get it right. Far too secretive. Transparency, reporting analysis breakdowns, accountability…all good ideas.
    Some people say there is no such thing as bad publicity. I don’t see the result of this situation being a net negative for Gulfstream.
    Perhaps the poor fellow that currently contemplates whether there truly is racing gods might talk to Guinness …worst beat EVER.

  • Sal Carcia

    Communications to the customers usually falls under the realm of marketing. Does Gulfstream have a marketing department? I can’t find it online. Has anyone official from Gulfstream come on this forum or any other to engage with the customers about this subject? Just showing you care goes a long way.

    • Jay Stone

      Sal, Gulfstream marketing is headed by Mike Nyman. He sometimes gets on here. Gulfstream media person is Dave Joseph, who has addressed press in this matter. Your request falls in the middle between those two. They are usually pretty receptive to any questions except when they are under constraint in what they can say.

      • Sal Carcia

        Thanks, Jay. No matter what is said the fans fully appreciate being engaged by members of the racing community. I believe Gulfstream has a fan-friendly management team. If they got out there, it would have made the players feel better. It could have been nipped it in the bud.

        I love the Rainbow, but the last race on a live day has many landmines. I always fear a late scratch causing one person to end up with two tickets if the fav wins. As far as I know, the jackpot is lost at this point as well. Hopefully, Gulfstream will be better prepared next time.

  • togahombre

    In all fairness to the stewards, with all the crazed opinions on their intentions and their sources, they would have to be nuts to show up at a press conference, riders can’t go back to the room without hearing all about the things they supposedly do that aren’t involved with racing, this was a call that can reasonably explained as fair, I’d like to have some of the informed parties here reasonably explain the decision the stewards made at saratoga in the late 80′s, don’t rush to the keyboards all at once

  • Bellwether

    Let the people know what’s coming down @ all times when their Buckaroo$ are on the line…ty…

  • Lexington 4

    I love all of the “conflict of interest” talk.

    How about giving a representative of the sport’s under-appreciated (I know they are under-appreciated because they never stop letting everyone know about it) gamblers have a vote on DQs? That way we could end the “conflict of interest” conspiracy theories. (Oh… wait.)

    In this case, though, we could still let Andy Beyer be the representative. If I remember his article correctly, didn’t he say he agreed with the call?

    • RayPaulick

      Nothing says conflict of interest quite like having a financial stake (bet) on the outcome.

      • Lexington 4

        That is sort of my point. It is going to be hard to find anyone who would be above any (and all) conflict of interest charges, no matter what group they came from.

        I don’t really care very strongly either way about “more transparency” on the process. That would be fine.

        In the end, this will all still come down to JUDGEMENT CALLS. And that fact is the crack in the door that means controversies (and theories) will always be around.

      • Hamish

        Are stewards permitted to particpate in pari-mutuel wagering, of course, when they are not on duty, or on another racetrack’s racing?

    • kyle

      How droll. The NFL would never let players have input on The Competition Committee, and can you imagine The SEC having an investor advocate?

    • rpdflyer

      To me this is a bit of a cop out rationalization. I watched both the GP replay and race 1 at SA last Sunday, with no betting interest, and I feel both decisions were blatantly wrong. Horses actually need to be seriously impeded before issuing a DQ – this means bodily contact or a major check where there is a clear instigator ..

  • chispy

    Here are some additional suggestions:

    1. One of the stewards should come on the track PA/TV system and explain why each objection and/or inquiry was judged the way it was. Furthermore, the explanation should include the stewards’ vote so the public can know whether the vote was 3-0 or 2-1.
    2. No association (employed by the track) steward should judge a race where the track owners or any track senior management has a horse running. Perhaps there should be only state stewards.
    3. There should be no ranking such as Senior State Steward and State Steward. Such hierarchy paves the way for the second state steward to defer to, and follow, the Senior in decision making. .
    4. The stewards’ channel should be available to the public so that anyone with access to a track TV can see what the stewards are watching. (Tracks have a channel dedicated to the use of the stewards. The stewards tell TV Control what to play for them and can see every view that TV Control records, They are not limited to the pan and head-on views as fans are.)
    5. Fouls should be judged equally. Example: fouls out of the gate should not be judged less frequently and/or severely than fouls in the stretch.
    6..Stewards should go back to the rule of a foul is a foul.

    • rpdflyer

      and 7) judge each race the same way regardless of its value. Stewards would be loathe to ever change the order in the Kentucky Derby, and they should have the same mindset for an optional claimer on a Wednesday afternoon.

  • Zippy Chippy

    I don’t see what a further explanation from the Stewards would accomplish. They made their decision, and they gave their reasoning. Those who believe that the Stewards made their decision based on the events in the race will be satisfied; those who believe that there is a grand conspiracy involving track management will not be satisfied. The fact is, conspiracy theorists are NEVER satisfied: the only explanation that they will ever accept is the one that supports their conspiracy theory. If that’s the case, then further “explanation” only invites more criticism from a group of people who don’t trust them anyway.

    The case with the World Series umpires who gave their post-game press conference is certainly the exception, not the rule. In that case, the video replay was clear that the runner had been interfered with. Reviews of horse races are MUCH more subjective and open to opinion. Unlike the rest of us, the Stewards are paid to give their binding opinion. They are paid to make that judgment call, regardless of who benefits and who suffers because of it.

    At some point, horse players have to have faith that the Stewards ARE impartial judges. Without that basic faith, then you are “knowingly” betting into a game that you believe is rigged, possibly against you.

    • Zippy Chippy

      I don’t envy Stewards. Even if they make the right call 100% of the time, somebody is always going to come out on the losing end. Some group of people won’t be happy, even if the decision they make is the correct one.

    • Lexington 4

      This is precisely how I feel. And you said it better.

    • Mike

      Yes Zippy, well said.

  • kyle

    There you go. How do they leave Hard Enough up? These guys can’t be trusted with the responsibility they have.

  • Joe

    Stewards blew another objection in the 6th race today! You lose by a head bob and you’re moved 4 lanes out in the middle of the track you get taken down.

  • gus stewart

    Mr Paulick sent you an email this afternoon pst time. Again the 6th race at Gulf was unbelievable. I will be Santa Anita for tournament and will ask bettors to start taking a stand and not bet at Gulfstream until they suspend or remove their stewards. You have to start doing something to create changes, and this is the only way to do it in this biz.. Everything you verbalize nothing gets done ,even with the California stewards. They all been doing it to long and they have no ability to be non biased even if they don’t do it intentionally. Younger eyes would make less influenced decisions. We all remember the inquiries with the Corderos and Pincays against shoe or Mc’carrons all great riders, but those who were around those days called the results of inquiries when it looked 50/50. The aggressive riders were rarely given the decisions.

  • Bman

    check out the DQ yesterday at S.A., horse Born Lucky taken down for mild late bump, yes he drifted out under left hand urging but pan shot shows little affect to 2nd horse; then, and I know Stews were not all the same back in 2011, but tell me Courageous Cat was impacted by Godlikova any LESS than Born Lucky did to runner up was yesterday????? consistency is all you can ask for from the same people in the booth.

  • http://judgebork.wordpress.com Lou Baranello Former Steward

    I am a believer in “FULL DISCLOSURE” and by that I mean all rulings from boards of stewards and racing commissions should indicate how each members of these boards voted. Let these men and women stand up and be counted for every decision they make individually and as a group. Believe me this will cause some changes in attitudes!

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