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Jeff Porchak's Blog


Heats To Compete

Published: October 1, 2012 12:33 pm ET

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I'm taking the news that Check Me Out won't race in the second heat of the Kentucky Filly Futurity with mixed emotions.

On one hand, I absolutely respect the decision of Ray Schnittker and Charles Iannazzo to not race Check Me Out two heats in one day. They own the horse, it's their decision. They were both involved with Deweycheatumnhowe, who needed three heats to win the Kentucky Futurity in 2008. Whether or not that effort cost him the Breeders Crown title later that year, I'd rather not speculate but he certainly came up short against In Focus.

On the other hand, if Check Me Out is entered in the Kentucky Filly Futurity and wins her heat, she'll automatically force a third heat race-off between the other two winners. Given she's got the world record and the second fastest mile time by a three-year-old trotting filly under her belt, that's not a stretch of the imagination by any means.

Since there's no way to force a horse to compete in both heats, it brings up some questions and scenarios to ponder. If we know in advance that Check Me Out is going to pass on the second heat, should her finish position count in the summary for the Filly Futurity? Should she be barred from wagering? If there are two divisions and the top five from each advance, should the sixth place finisher in her race advance to the final? It's not as though these horses are necessarily not competitive. The 2011 Confederation Cup was won by the one fifth place finisher from the first heat drawn by lot, Bestofbest Hanover. He went off as the fourth choice in the final, not a longshot by any stretch.

Going back to the 2012 Little Brown Jug, Bolt The Duer was scratched from the second heat. Watching this in the SC office, the question came up as to why the next horse in that race that didn't make the final (in this case fifth-place finisher Major Bombay). Of course, this particular case opens a different can of worms as that pacer was already entered to race two days later.

No matter the reason for scratching from the second heat, racing can and should do what it can to put forth a more solid and competitive product at all times. Fuller, competitive fields are more attractive to the wagering public. If the races are going to be conducted in heats, and horses and trainers will have multiple reasons for not racing twice (or more) in one day, we can solve these possible problems in advance.

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