Mixed messages to California jocks

It was a tough week for sports bettors and an odd week for horseplayers.

Those betting the NFL had plenty of bad beat stories Sunday night. Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb was on his way to a 60-yard touchdown run when he purposely stepped out of bounds at the 1- yard-line with one minute left in the game and Cleveland up by three points over Houston. Cleveland ran out the clock, much to the dismay for bettors who gave four points.

In Arizona, quarterback Kyler Murray threw a Hail Mary pass that was caught by DeAndre Hopkins with two seconds left to put the Cardinals up 32-30 over the Buffalo Bills. When Arizona took a knee instead of kicking the extra point, those who wagered on Buffalo (-3) were still able to cash. 

Horse racing had a somewhat similar event on Friday. But this time the horseplayer wasn’t penalized. The penalty went to the participant.

Abel Cedillo, the current leading jockey at the Del Mar meet, was aboard favored Just Grace in Friday’s sixth race. Cedillo used his riding crop with a few slaps on the shoulder leaving the gate to put Just Grace in a perfect position stalking the pace.

When rival Sybil’s Kitty made an early move from the outside entering the far turn, Cedillo asked Just Grace for a little more to hold her position and not get shuffled.

In mid-stretch, Just Grace appeared to be stalling while chasing Mama’s Kid until Cedillo used his crop a few more times to remind his filly the race was not over. Just Grace found another gear 50 yards from the wire and surged to get up in time.

If you want to watch the replay, you can set up a free account at www.calracing.com and pull up the sixth race at Del Mar on Friday the 13th. The film will show you what amounts to a terrific ride by Cedillo without abusing his filly.

On Saturday, the Del Mar stewards announced Cedillo was fined $500 for using his riding crop more than six times — his first offense. That’s right — Cedillo was fined for winning.

From a financial standpoint, the winner’s share of the $20,000 purse for the race was $12,000. The winning jockey gets 10% of that purse, so Cedillo collected $1,200. After paying his agent Tom Knust 25% for booking the mount ($300) and paying the $500 fine, Cedillo was left with just $400 for taking his life in his hands and doing his best to maximize the results for the connections of Just Grace and the betting public.

The new riding crop restrictions are not a Del Mar house rule, it is a rule mandated by the California Horse Racing Board. The board is not only supposed to look out for the safety of horse and rider, but it’s also supposed to protect the wagering public.

The more restrictive riding crop rules are well intended, but when they are a negative incentive for jockeys to do their best to maximize their placings for owners and horseplayers without causing abuse to their mounts, is the rule working as it was intended?

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CHRB executive director Scott Chaney is the man responsible for the implementation of the rule and would be the proper person to ask. As a handicapper for over 35 years and an active thoroughbred owner in California for over 33 years, my answer is simple: No, the rule is not working to the benefit of racing in California. 

Golden Gate, Zia on hold

Shortly before first post time last Friday, Golden Gate announced they would cancel racing for the day and throughout the weekend due to 24 positive coronavirus tests among backstretch workers. Golden Gate is testing all backstretch workers this week and are hopeful they can resume racing this Friday.

Zia Park in New Mexico announced the same day that new statewide restrictions due to the pandemic has forced them to shut down live racing through Nov. 30. New Mexico has called for all non-essential businesses, including horse racing, to cease operations for the next two weeks. 

Lindo Report Play for Gaming Today: Del Mar Friday, Race 8 — Theluteismine (No. 5). Leading trainer Peter Miller got a good foundation into this Cal-bred debuting at a mile Sept. 26. He gets a rider switch to Flavien Prat and should look much improved cutting back to a sprint.