Photo finish problems on Churchill night card
By Marty McGee
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - A technical malfunction of the computerized photo-finish system during several races on the Thursday night program at Churchill Downs led racing officials to declare a dead heat for win in two of those races.
Dead heats for win were declared in the seventh and ninth races. Chief steward John Veitch said the system failed to work properly for the finish of those races and at least one other race on the card.
The malfunctions were untimely in that they occurred during the third and final night of the track's wildly successful experiment with night racing. Ontrack attendance was 33,481, which Churchill officials believe to be a track record other than for the Kentucky Derby, Kentucky Oaks, or a Breeders' Cup.
Veitch said the computer malfunction first occurred in the sixth of 11 races, when placings could be easily determined by the three placing judges on duty. But in the seventh race, the placing judges informed the stewards they could not make a definitive call between Mostbeautifulstorm and Step Out Smartly, even after perusing televised replays. After a lengthy delay, Veitch and fellow stewards Rick Leigh and Butch Becraft declared both horses as winners. The same result was declared after the ninth race when Sister Lou Ann and Tiamo Bella raced to a very tight finish.
In the seventh race, Mostbeautifulstorm appeared to beat Step Out Smartly by maybe an inch or two, but Veitch said the stewards could not be absolutely sure and therefore made the proper call.
The ninth race was extremely close, although it could be reasonably argued that Sister Lou Ann barely held on to beat an oncharging Tiamo Bella.
Dale Romans, trainer of Mostbeautifulstorm, claimed that proper steps might not have been followed by the placing judges for the seventh race. "My understanding is that when the horses hit the wire, all three are supposed to write down what they think the order of finish is, and in the case of the system malfunctioning, they go with those results," said Romans. "But nobody would tell me whether or not that actually happened."
Veitch said Friday morning that the placing judges "could not come up with a consensus and that proper protocol was indeed followed."
Romans said he did not know whether Jerry Crawford, an Iowa attorney who owns Mostbeautifulstorm and was not in attendance Thursday, would pursue legal action. The total purse for the race was $52,025.
Veitch said officials would work Friday to insure the photo-finish equipment was in proper order for an 11-race twilight program later that day and for the balance of the Churchill spring meet, which ends Sunday.
You think you could be a tad less gracious? I mean, you only won the race. Plus the 5% of the winner's purse, had there not been a dead heat, only equates to $1560 for you Mr. Romans. It's not like you run a small outfit where that might be of some importance. Besides, I doubt the stewards INTENTIONALLY sabotaged the Photo Finish equipment just to screw you out of that all important 400 extra dollars. Or maybe Romans has a beef with George Arnold II and doesn't want to see him get another win. And I don't know why he is even complaining as malfunctions happen all the time. I wonder if he is this much of baby when there is a "tote board malfunction" and he states "there will be some legal action for making me wait and extra 10-15 minutes to make my horse the official winner". Even IGetEven thinks this talk of legal action is taking it way too far. Way to go Rick Dutrow on us and be a sore loser over that extra 400 smackeroos because sometimes winning just isn't enough.
Now I am off my soap box. Thank You.