They're billed as the fastest horses in the world. If you blinked when the gates opened on the 300-yard Manitoba-bred Futurity Stakes for two-year-old quarter-horses last Saturday at Assiniboia Downs, you'd have missed what precipitated a true rarity in the sport of horse racing.
Steely-eyed trainer Tanya Lindsay didn't blink and it turned out to be worth $11,440 of the $16,000 purse.
It occurred right out of the gate. Eye Fly Till Dawn, with David Lopez in the saddle, moved over from the rail, blocking Lindsay's horse Annas Little Licker, ridden by Rocco Bowen. In the 15.9 seconds it took for Janine Stianson to ride Perks Southerncorona -- another Lindsay horse -- across the finish line in front of Eye Fly Till Dawn and Annas Little Licker, Lindsay did the unthinkable. She lodged a trainer's objection.
"It happened twice, right?" Lindsay said Thursday in her barn. "The No. 1 (Eye Fly Till Dawn) came into the No. 2 (Annas Little Licker) and took the path away. And then they separated and he came back into him again."
Actually, Lindsay, who watched the race on TV, waited for Bowen to lodge the objection, as is normally the case, but it never came.
"I was waiting and waiting, and then I was, like... I don't know what to do," she recalled. "I'd never done this before. So I called up (the stewards) and I must have sounded like a complete idiot, because I said, 'trainer's objection two on one, or one on two, I don't know. OK, I'm the two, and I'm calling an objection on the one.'
"Anyway, I got my point across, and it turned out good. I mean, I did run one and three, but the third-place horse got moved up to second."
What makes Lindsay's objection so unique is that it's almost unheard of for track stewards anywhere to disqualify a horse based on a trainer's claim of foul. Even Darren Dunn, who has called more than 15,000 races at Assiniboia Downs, says he's never seen it happen.
"Trainers very rarely call an objection," Lindsay said. "For the most part it's the riders who call an objection, because they are right there when something happens. I was watching it on TV and it was a side view, so it's really tough to see a lot of fouls happen. I don't know why Bowen didn't call it."
While bettors assumed the stewards would never decide in favour of a trainer, and lined up to collect their winnings, those same stewards took their time reviewing the films of the race, only to come down in her favour.
Recollecting a similar situation, in the same race last year, Lindsay would be within her rights to feel avenged. "Last year I had two horses in the same race and they called an objection, and both my horses came down. I won the race and I ran third, but they disqualified both my horses, and placed me fourth and fifth.
"So I figured, what's it going to hurt? If they were going to take my numbers down last year for pretty much the exact same infraction, what was it going to hurt to call this?" What she didn't say, however, was that her disqualified winner, Sin City Queen, broke down after crossing the wire and had to be euthanized.
There's not a whole lot of quarter horse racing in Manitoba. Lindsay says that most of it is in Alberta at tracks like Lethbridge and in Ontario at Ajax Downs. "We only run them for two weekends."
She says quarter-horses are built differently from the thoroughbreds. "They are shorter, and stockier around their chests. They are really quick, and can turn on a dime. I believe they were called quarter horses because they were bred to run a quarter mile. They race up to 870 yards, and some excel at that. Even my little horse that won, he galloped all the way to the half-pole out at the back, which is a huge gallop out for a quarter horse. Normally they pull up by the six-furlong chute."
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Speaking of objections, on Aug. 24, the Manitoba Horse Racing Commission will hear an argument which involves a disqualification on Aug. 2 in the Assiniboia Oaks, the $50,000 one-mile Stakes on Derby Day.
Honorable Lady's rider, Larren Delorme, lodged a claim of foul against Tanner Riggs, who rode the winner Rime Ice, for interference in the early stretch. The claim was upheld and Rime Ice was dropped to third behind Ruby's Big Band, and Honorable Lady.
Riggs claims he was simply riding aggressively when he rode his horse between two tiring horses in the stretch, while pushing one of them sideways.