The Breeders’ Cup Classic was marred by the incident immediately after the start when Bayern bumped into the betting favorite Shared Belief and also impeded the path of Moreno.  Speaking on behalf of Santa Anita, track announcer Trevor Denman said the stewards determined that the collision did not affect the outcome of the race because it occurred so soon after the start.

The stewards’ explanation, of course, is illogical in that neither the stewards nor anyone else can divine what might have transpired if the start had been free of interference from Bayern.  A plausible alternate case can be made that, had the bumping not taken place, Moreno would have gone to the front, thereby wearing down Bayern, which would have set up the race for the second-place finisher Toast of New York or some other horse, including Shared Belief, who was obviously compromised by Bayern.

The stewards should have asked only one question:  Was Bayern’s bumping of Shared Belief severe enough to have markedly changed the result of the race?  If so, he should have been disqualified.

The view here is that the stewards erred in speculating on how the race would have turned out (absent the bumping) rather than basing their decision on what actually took place.  Using a fact-based approach, Bayern disqualified himself at the outset of the race, regardless of where he ended up finishing, because the bumping was very significant.   The stewards went beyond their role of judges of the facts and concocted a hypothetical race scenario to justify their decision.

To paraphrase New England Patriots’ coach Bill Belichick, “I can only go by what I see out there.”  That’s sound advice for racetrack stewards.

Copyright © 2014 Horse Racing Business


  1. Amen. This was some home-court cooking for Bob Baffert. What a disgraceful decision.