USA: Bayern result prompts California rules review

ARCADIA, CA - NOVEMBER 01: (L-R) Jockey Victor Espinoza atop California Chrome, jockey Jamie Spencer atop Toast of New York and first place finisher jockey Martin Garcia atop Bayern race to the finish line in the 2014 Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa A

Bayern (right): fought out controversial finish to Breeders’ Cup Classic

  PICTURE: Getty Images  

USA: Following the controversial decision of the Santa Anita stewards not to demote Bayern after the Breeders’ Cup Classic, the California Horse Racing Board pledged to review the state’s interference rules.

After a stewards’ inquiry, Bayern was allowed to keep the Classic despite taking a left-hand turn at the starting gate and severely interfering with the favourite Shared Belief and front-running rival Moreno.

In an explanation after the race, stewards said Bayern had kept the race because his manoeuvre did not cost Shared Belief an opportunity for a better placing – a ruling that sparked intense debate.

CHRB chairman Chuck Winner said: “We looked at the rules in every other jurisdiction to see where our rules differed from theirs. There are no jurisdictions where a foul is a foul. We look at this as if there are judgement calls that have to be made.”

Speaking to the Daily Racing Form, Winner admitted the track had received a number of calls complaining about the Bayern decision.

“There were a number of people who were not in accord with the decision,” Winner said. “But no matter what decision they made, they would have been wrong. They made the decision based on the rules; it’s a tough job – if there is a problem, the problem is with the rule.”

The review was not the only potentially significant development that arose from a meeting of the CHRB at Del Mar on Wednesday as they also introduced new rules to prevent excessive use of the whip by limiting jockeys in California to three successive strikes before pausing to let the horse respond.

Jockeys in California will in the future have to limit their whip use to the prescribed amount or face sanction, probably a fine or perhaps a suspension.

“This is an important issue,” said Winner. “We are making every effort, working with the industry, to try to do what we can to protect the integrity of this sport and the horses and the riders. It’s a long time coming, and it’s a big step in my view.”

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