Baffert’s ‘red flag’ move ends tragically

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert came under some criticism after one of his horses, Tweebster, broke down and had to be euthanized at Santa Anita on Sunday.

It was unfortunate. But any equine fatality is one too many.

Under attack on social media, Baffert was quick to defend himself. He issued an explanatory press release through the Santa Anita publicity department.

I, for one, felt Baffert did nothing unusual. Trainers such as Baffert, who basically run only stakes and allowance horses, work for owners who want to compete at the highest level.

Tweebster’s resume contained graded stakes placings, showing he used to be a quality horse. However, when horses no longer have the talent to compete at that level, it is not unusual to cull the barn. Two ways of doing it are via private sale or dropping horses into claiming races.

Baffert dropped Tweebster down from an optional claiming $40,000 condition to a $12,500 price tag. In my daily handicapping comments, I would label this a “red flag” move.

No horseman at Santa Anita bit – no one put in a claim for Tweebster - but the betting public bit. Tweebster was bet down to a 6-5 favorite, ran fifth, then was vanned off the track and later euthanized.

It was an ugly end to a lovely horse. I refuse to believe that Baffert sent out an unsound animal. However, I do believe he was hoping someone would claim Tweebster for $12,500.

This episode should also sound a warning bell to California and New Jersey racing commissions that seek to implement exchange wagering. In exchange wagering, it will become legal to bet on horses to lose.

Persons with inside knowledge, confident that Tweebster was not going to win, could have made a lot of money via exchange wagering.

The way it would be done would be to offer attractive win odds on Tweebster on a betting exchange at higher than his 6-5 post time odds. It wouldn’t matter if the offer were 4-1, 5-1 on up.

Exchange wagering, as a process, offers a huge advantage to those with inside information. Apparently, a lot of insiders thought Tweebster was on the down side – proof being not one claim was made on the horse.

I’m not sure the horse racing industry will benefit enough financially to offset any potential negative integrity issues that could occur in scenarios such as this.

■ STEVENS RETURNS – Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens, a three-time Kentucky Derby winner who last rode seven years ago, is coming out of retirement at age 49. He has accepted a mount on Jebrica in the sixth race at Santa Anita on Sunday. Stevens said he will continue working for HRTV and NBC, but added that his knees feel better than they have in years. Stevens has won 4,888 races lifetime.

Richard Eng’s horse racing column is published Friday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He can be reached at rich_eng@hotmail.com. Follow him on Twitter: @richeng4propick

ad-high_impact_4
Sports Betting Spotlight Videos
Sports Betting Spotlight: NFL conference championships
Review-Journal sports betting columnist Todd Dewey, handicapper Kelly Stewart and CG Technology sports book vice president Matt Holt preview the NFL’s conference championship games.
Sports Betting Spotlight: NFL divisional playoffs
Review-Journal sports betting columnist Todd Dewey, handicapper Kelly Stewart and CG Technology sports book vice president Matt Holt preview the NFL divisional playoffs.
Sports Betting Spotlight: College Football National Championship
Review-Journal sports betting columnist Todd Dewey, handicapper Kelly Stewart and CG Technology sports book vice president Matt Holt preview Monday’s college football national championship.
Sports Betting Spotlight: NFL Wild Card playoffs
Review-Journal sports betting columnist Todd Dewey, handicapper Kelly Stewart and CG Technology sports book vice president Matt Holt preview the NFL’s Wild Card playoff weekend.
Sports Betting Spotlight: NFL Week 17
Todd Dewey, Kelly Stewart and Matt Holt go over their picks for week 17 of the NFL.
Sports Betting Spotlight: College Bowls Week Three
Todd Dewey, Kelly Stewart and Matt Holt go over their picks for week three of the college bowl games.
Sports Betting Spotlight: College Bowls Week 2
Review-Journal reporter Todd Dewey, handicapper Bernie Fratto and The Mirage sports book director Jeff Stoneback preview the college football bowls.
Sports Betting Spotlight: NFL Week 16
Review-Journal reporter Todd Dewey, handicapper Bernie Fratto and The Mirage sports book director Jeff Stoneback preview Week 16 of the NFL season.
Sports Betting Spotlight: College Football Bowl Edition
Todd Dewey, Kelly Stewart and Las Vegas Wynn Sports Book Director Johnny Avello go over their picks for the college bowl games.
Sports Betting Spotlight: NFL Week 15
Todd Dewey, Kelly Stewart and Las Vegas Wynn Sports Book Director Johnny Avello go over their picks for week 15 of NFL football.
Sports Betting Spotlight: NFL Week 14
Review-Journal reporter Todd Dewey, handicapper Kelly Stewart and TI sports book director Tony Nevill preview NFL Week 14.
Sports Betting Spotlight: NFL Week 13
Review-Journal reporter Todd Dewey, handicapper Kelly Stewart and The Mirage sports book director Jeff Stoneback preview Week 13 of the NFL regular season. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sports Betting Spotlight: College football Week 14
Review-Journal reporter Todd Dewey, handicapper Kelly Stewart and The Mirage sports book director Jeff Stoneback preview Week 14 of the college football season. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sports Betting Spotlight: College Week 13
Todd Dewey, Kelly Stewart and Matt Holt give their picks for week 13 of college football.
Sports Betting Spotlight: NFL Week 12
Todd Dewey, Kelly Stewart and Matt Holt give their picks for week 12 of NFL football.
Sports Betting Spotlight: College football Week 12
Todd Dewey, Kelly Stewart and Bob Scucci go over their picks for college football week 12.
Sports Betting Spotlight: NFL Week 11
Todd Dewey, Kelly Stewart and Bob Scucci go over their picks for NFL football week 11.
Sports Betting Spotlight: NFL Week 10
Review-Journal reporter Todd Dewey, handicapper Kelly Stewart and CG Technology Sports Book Vice President Matt Holt preview Week 10 of the NFL.
Sports Betting Spotlight: College Football Week 11
Review-Journal reporter Todd Dewey, handicapper Kelly Stewart and CG Technology Sports Book Vice President Matt Holt preview Week 11 of the college football season.
Sports Betting Spotlight: College Football Week 10
Review-Journal reporter Todd Dewey, handicapper Kelly Stewart and Boyd Gaming Sports Book Director Bob Scucci preview Week 10 of the college football season.
Sports Betting Spotlight: NFL Week 9
Review-Journal reporter Todd Dewey, handicapper Kelly Stewart and Boyd Gaming Sports Book Director Bob Scucci preview Week 9 of the NFL season.
Sports Betting Spotlight: NFL Week 8
Review-Journal reporter Todd Dewey, handicapper Kelly Stewart and The Mirage sports book director Jeff Stoneback preview Week 8 of the NFL season.
TOP NEWS
ad-infeed_1x2_1
News Headlines
ad-infeed_1
ads_infeed_2
Local Spotlight
Events
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like