Assiniboia Downs in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
The regulatory body that oversees Thoroughbred racing in the Canadian province of Manitoba has ruled that no rules of Thoroughbred racing were violated in an oddly run race at Assiniboia Downs on July 20.
“The Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Authority of Manitoba (LGCA) initiated our standard investigative process at the completion of race 5 on July 20, 2022 held at Assiniboia Downs,” a statement from the organization read. “Steps included interviewing witnesses, video replay analysis and reviewing wagering data. After this investigation, the LGCA determined that no rules of thoroughbred racing were violated and therefore, no adjustments to the order of finish are required.”
The Manitoba Jockey Club, operators of Assiniboia Downs, formally requested what it called a “full and complete review” of the race, a $5,000 maiden claiming contest run over 7 1/2 furlongs.
King Witt, ridden by jockey Sheldon Chickeness, led by as much as four lengths, according to the Equibase chart. The chart footnotes state that “King Witt dueled inside early, opened up out of the first turn, increased margin, took a good lead into the stretch, drifted out and appeared to be stopping in early stretch, was passed by three horses to his inside , started to run again when the winner went by him on the inside just after passing the eighth pole, gave his best from mid-stretch to the wire lapped on the winner, couldn’t get to that one.”
Mucho Express, trailing the field midway through the race, rallied under jockey Antonio Whitehall to beat King Witt by a neck. The winner was the third choice in the wagering at 5.65-1, with King Witt second choice at 3.75-1. Belbedevil, the 7-10 favorite was never a factor, finishing seventh of eight runners. A $1 exacta paid $28.80 and the 20-cent trifecta to 8.75-1 shot Notable Nora paid $44.12.
Assiniboia asks provincial regulators to conduct a “full and complete review” of race 5 July 20, when King Witt finished second under jockey Sheldon Chickeness after having a big lead at the top of the stretch. pic.twitter.com/GYSgeEDWua
— Ray Paulick (@raypaulick) July 21, 2022
Darren Dunn, CEO of the Manitoba Jockey Club, issued the following statement after the LGCA said no rules were violated: “I want to start by indicating from the outset that we understand and fully respect the right and responsibility that our regulator has to make the determination that they did relate to this race. At the same time, I want to identify and recognize our right as the operator to respond to their findings and, to be clear, we strongly disagree with the conclusion they arrived at from this review.
“Our interpretation of the race is that the horse, King Witt, to our understanding, may have previously exhibited tendencies in how he navigates the turn for home and the early stretch drive of the racetrack that caused the jockey to believe that with a potential repeat of those tendencies, the safety of the other horses and jockeys in the race were in jeopardy and that this was reflected in his actions, exhibiting his concern.
“And, while we will always support and encourage efforts of jockey’s to be safe in the saddle for themselves, their fellow riders and the horses in the race, a distinction, in our opinion, should be made when these actions occur and then affect the possible and likely ultimate outcome of the race through an overreaction by a jockey. We believe, in our opinion, that jockey Sheldon Chickeness did over-compensate in his handling of his mount, likely related to a safety concern, but given the clear lead the horse had at the time, he did affect, in our opinion, the final outcome of the race and the order of finish.
“We believe that, while consideration and understanding could be given to his safety intent, overriding this was the need to protect the wagering public in ensuring the integrity of the race remained intact and that the over-compensation by jockey Sheldon Chickeness should have been met with a determination of significant discipline against him.”