The California Horse Racing Board released an additional statement on Nov. 8 stating that, contrary to its initial proclamations, Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) winner Modern Games (IRE) did not rear in the gate prior to the race.
The statement reads as follows:
“Upon review of available videos showing the horses in the gate prior to the start of the race, the CHRB has determined that #1 Modern Games (IRE) did not rear up in the gate, as was initially reported to the CHRB by the veterinarians at the gate. The starter and assistant starter took protective steps by leading the horse out of the front of the gate. The horse did not break through the gate on its own, as was originally thought.
The CHRB is conducting a full investigation of this matter.”
Modern Games, the 9-5 favorite, ran for purse money only in the Juvenile Turf after he was initially announced as an additional late scratch following an incident in which his stablemate, Albahr, was himself scratched after flipping over in the stall next to him and becoming lodged underneath the gate, causing him to be necessary late scratch. The original statement put out by the CHRB the night of Nov. 5 said that Albahr flipped over “after #1 Modern Games reared up and hit the back of the gate” and that the veterinary staff then relayed the scratch of Modern Game “based on initial observation” only to declare him fit and racing sound “after further discussion and observation.”
William Buick, jockey of Modern Games, said in a post-race interview that his mount “was never touched” during the incident with Albahr and that the stall handler popped the front of his gate open.
“Usually horses get backed out the back of the gate and then everyone gets reorganized and go again. But there was a stall handler there that, he obviously meant well and tried to do the right thing, but he opened the front gate without anyone being ready for it,” Buick said. “And obviously my horse does what he’s taught to do and he jumps out. Fortunately, he got my message to be pulled up and we went around the back and to be honest I wasn’t aware of the situation of him potentially being scratched or whatever happened.
“The vet team wanted to know what happened and I told them what happened and then the guy that opened my gate, thankfully, he exactly told them what he did and what happened there. So, you know, they had all the information that was correct and I just don’t know whether, maybe there was a bit of confusion, a bit of panic back there.”
A follow-up statement issued by the CHRB on Nov. 6 said Modern Games was briefly reinserted back into the wagering pools after it had been concluded he had not been injured. That statement reads as follows:
“The CHRB determined that, as discussed in the aftermath of the race, #1 Modern Games was scratched by the stewards on the recommendation of one of the track veterinarians, Dr. Chuck Jenkins, at the starting gate at 17:35:35 PT.
“After additional examination and assessment of Modern Games by the attending veterinary team, track veterinarian Dr. Dana Stead concluded that the horse had not been injured and communicated to the stewards that the horse was cleared to run.
“Due to a miscommunication between the stewards and the Del Mar mutuels department, Modern Games was reinserted into the pari-mutuel wagering pools at 17:37:01 PT.
“At 17:43:49 PT, after it was made clear to the mutuels department that Modern Games was competing for purse money only, the horse was again removed from the wagering pools.
“The race went off at 17:47:34 PT.
“Per CHRB rules, all wagers on #1 Modern Games in the win, place, show, exacta, trifecta, superfecta, and super high five pools are subject to refund. Daily double and Pick 3 wagers to Modern Games received a consolation payment. Per CHRB rules, in all other multi-leg wagers ending on the 10th race, bettors with tickets including #1 Modern Games and #2 Albahr received the post-time favorite, #3 Dakota Gold, unless they designated an alternate for the race.
“As a result of the review, the CHRB, Del Mar and Breeders’ Cup are modifying their injury management communications protocols, so that Dr. Stead will make the final determination with respect to recommended scratches at the starting gate and has sole authority to communicate those recommendations to the stewards.”