Wrangler Magic's Owners Appeal

Published: August 7, 2015 03:39 pm EDT

Trot Insider has learned that the connections of Wrangler Magic are appealing the result of Monday's first Ontario Sires Stakes Gold leg at Grand River Raceway.

The race was won by Solar Sister, who was the subject of a judges' inquiry after veering into the passing lane for the stretch drive. In the opinion of the Ontario Racing Commission judges and as announced by track announcer Gary Guy, Solar Sister "did not violate the passing lane regulations" and stood as the winner over Wrangler Magic.

Wrangler Magic's connections confirmed that an appeal has been filed with the ORC.

Robert Reid, an owner, horseplayer and regular contributor to Trot Magazine's annual Horseplayers' issue, submitted the following Letter to the Editor as a result of Monday's race. To read Reid's letter, click the following link: There is No Future Without Transparency.



Here is a question for debate. Considering everything remained status quo and Wrangler Magic ended up going inside 3 pylons, would she have been placed last, or would Solar Sister then be placed second. Just curious as the judges deemed no interference. Should Filion have gambled and purposely taken his horse inside 3 pylons? Hmm

Seosamh - I am not sure what is open to interpretation in the following rule.

2) The lead horse in the home stretch shall maintain as straight a course as possible while allowing trailing horses full access to the extended inside lane.

Solar Sister did not maintain a straight course and more importantly she did not allow the training horse full access to the passing lane.

I think the confusion on this overall matter is the definition of a trailing horse. In speaking to judges, it follows a similar path of that of a trailing horse before the start (ex. when a #9 follows the #1). Meaning a trailing horse would be within a reasonable distance of the lead horse. However, the way the rule is currently written it should be treated no different than the pylon rule. If a horse wins by 20 lengths and goes inside three consecutive pylons they are coming down.

There is nothing in the rule (the way it is written, not the way it was explained on Industry Day) that leaves any grey area. Wrangler Magic is entitled to the passing lane whether she has the power to by or not, Solar Sister took that option away from her. I guess we will have to agree to disagree on this one Seosamh.

Will - As stated above. The judges have to explain this when a horse wins by open lengths but goes inside three consecutive pylons, technically a horse on the lead accessing the passing lane is no different. I do agree that the rule could be rewritten to say that the trailing horse must be within a number of lengths.

Ted - You are exactly right. The rule should be enforced consistently with no interpretation.

David - I agree with you whole heartedly and that was the purpose of the letter I wrote to Standardbred Canada. A forum where judges can answer questions about a decision or a rule in question is a great idea. I personally think that it should follow the major thoroughbred tracks in the US, where they have to publicly release a statement on the ruling with each of their individual decisions, along with the reasoning for the decision with the corresponding rule.

You also bring up a point on this particular ruling that some drivers/trainers have shared with me since the incident. When a horses' course is corrected, they slow down. When Solar Sister's course was corrected, Wrangler Magic closed the gap. If this had of happened sooner, who knows what the end result would have been.

I think everyone's comments and feedback on this matter has been great. Whether we agree or not, this is truly what this industry needs.

In reply to by Robert Reid Jr.

"Seosamh - I am not sure what is open to interpretation in the following rule.

2) The lead horse in the home stretch shall maintain as straight a course as possible while allowing trailing horses full access to the extended inside lane.

Solar Sister did not maintain a straight course and more importantly she did not allow the training horse full access to the passing lane."

Robert- "...as straight a course as possible...". Right there is a given for interpretation, no??
"...full access" Again debatable. Was there enough room? Did McNair take the entire lane away and deny enough access to pass cleanly through?
In my opinion Filion had the opportunity to get by if he had enough horse. If not, then why not run over a pylon or two and show us he didn't have enough room. In my opinion he plainly just didn't have enough horse.
And as to what would or would not have happened had McNair stayed completely out of the passing lane that's a question that can never be answered. Maybe Filion's horse would have not have been as brave facing open air, maybe she would have given up the ghost by not being sucked along? Who knows?
As to the passing rule being applied the same way as the pylon rule I could not disagree more. They are completely different rules applying to completely different situations. Decisions are left up to the Judges discretion this is a fact and there is a valid reason for this.. it is because various situations demand discretion due to a need for interpretation.
In any case Robert best of luck with your appeal and like you said let' agree to disagree. Oh, I've been before the Commission too many times in the past and it's no fun whatsoever..do yourself a favor and get yourself a good Philly lawyer. lol!!

17 comments, obviously a good discussion point. There needs to be a forum (here on SC website) where the betting public has a chance to ask questions. Not every one gets published but pick 2 a week and ask the drivers, judges etc what they thought happened. GREAT for the judges to take the original phone call- that would not have happened 20 years ago.. Ok- my thoughts- the judges need to judge- ie- given some discretionary decision making, If a horse is on top by 10 AND drifts in/out he should not be set back BUT my opinion on this one is it was the wrong call. My reasoning is once Doug corrected his mare she lost forward momentum (because he was pulling her sideways back into her correct path) Sylvain horse closed faster. Had Doug corrected at the top of the stretch she would have lost more ground and MAY have got beat. Second, Wrangler MAY have dug in sooner if she had open path in front of her instead of seeing the back of a helmet, for those 2 reasons I would appeal if I owned the mare.

Robert I'm aware of the wording of the rule, I have read it. It is the interpretation of the wording we do not agree upon. There is also a rule that has been around a very long time that preceded the era of passing lanes and it is still in effect and it states when entering the lane you must maintain the lane you are in, that you are not to swerve in or out in effect changing lanes. The intent of the rule could be interpreted differently by separate parties, but common sense would dictate that enforcing said rule would have several horses disqualified every day racing contests are held. A rule stating you cannot change lanes after entering the stretch drive yet it happens every single day without exception without disqualifications unless there is interference. The passing lane rule at least the way I interpret it and the way judges appear to have interpreted it is that there needs to be actual interference.
I read the rule and yes one could easily interpret it the way you have Robert, but it can also be interpreted differently in keeping with the spirit of the rule. Would I have personally have written it with more clarity? Yes I would have and maybe the Commission should look at doing just that.
To Mr. Hill: In regard to whether the judges need to factor in whether a horse is interfered with or not by the mental aptitude of the horse it would be getting into a very grey area.

Just because Filion's horse had the sense not run up onto McNairs bike does not mean there wasn't interference. As soon as McNair cleared the lane she dug back in but by then the race was out of reach. Quite obvious interference occurred here without contact. Rules are rules.

Seosamh - I think it might be beneficial to read the rule as it is written in the ORC rule book (it is also in the letter I submitted that is attached to the article). The judges made the wrong call and this will be further proven when I think the connections of Wrangler Magic win the appeal.

The rule says nothing about there needing to be interference. The lead horse must keep a straight path and allow the trailing horse full access to the passing lane. It is completely different from a horse drifting out and causing interference, as that would fall into a subjective decision by the judges. This one is and has always been a black and white rule with no room for interpretation.

I would actually wager that most drivers would be against the ruling that was made because it would dramatically change passing lane racing. It's worthy to note that Jody did not put a wheel under Sylvain in the other division when he came up the passing lane with Ms Mac And Cheese. You mention that McNair checked over his should and corrected his horse to give Wrangler Magic room late in the stretch. The trailing hose is supposed to have the passing lane for the entire stretch. Whether she was going to go by or not is a moot point, if the lead horse denies any access to the passing lane by a trailing horse they are supposed to be tossed.

This has nothing to do with drifting, blocking or interference. The lead horse moved into the passing lane and denied it from a trailing horse. The rule on such a matter dictated that she must be disqualified.

In reply to by Robert Reid Jr.

Again Mr Reid..... let's use your "no passing lane at any time" rule, and have a horse up by 15 and drifts into the passing lane, you going to explain to the public that this horse should be disqualified?

Fillion never takes up or checks or even slows down. he was not "denied" that lane.

In reply to by Will Yamakva

If the ORC going forward wants to enforce the rule as it is currently written then the answer to your question is yes. Doesn't matter if there is a horse in the passing lane, remotely close to the leader or not. The rule is the rule and they need to be enforced consistently. This particular rule needs to obviously be re written .

The judges made the correct call. There was absolutely no interference. Sylvain never let up on his horse at no time through the stretch right up until the wire. He did not have enough horse plain and simple. Like Will said if the horse was on top by several open lengths and drifted in there would be no outcry. It is no different than a horse drifting out in the lane as long as no one is being impeded than, no harm, no foul. An easy call and the right call. No argument that you can't drift in and block another horse, but in this case it never happened. You won't find too many drivers that would even think to complain about this one. Take another look at the replay McNair checks over his shoulder and rights his horse to make sure the lane is there for Sylvain late in the stretch at precisely when he needed the room it was only very late he needed room and he got it when he needed it. It would be idiotic to start tossing horses for bearing in or out if there is no interference. You bet your money take your loss like a man and quit bellyaching. You bet the wrong horse you should have bet on McNair it's that simple.

I am glad that this has stirred discussion. That was the purpose of the letter I wrote to Standardbred Canada on Tuesday morning. The public and industry as a whole should be outraged by this call.

Bill - You are entitled to your opinion on what the rule should be but the rule dictates that the horse MUST be tossed. It doesn't matter if Sylvain had absolutely no horse at all, he is entitled to the passing lane with Wrangler Magic. I outline the rule and the judges' explanation to me just after it happened in the letter that is attached to the article.

Will - The call was 100% incorrect and will be overturned. The rule states that the lead horse must give full access to the trailing horse, which Solar Sister did not do. It was certainly not intentional but still an infraction of the rules nonetheless. This rule has been upheld as written countless times and this day should not have been an exception.

Mark - GRR has been one of my favorite tracks to watch and wager at since it opened. I have not made a wager there since Industry Day. I personally feel that there should be a statement made by the racetrack on this matter. While they have no bearing on the judges' or ORC's decisions, it is still their customer base that suffers. In the end it effects their bottom line and they should be just as outraged as the bettors and the industry as a whole.

I feel that Filion's horse was not going to win the race because of this incident. He was urging his horse and was not greeting to the winner. At no time did he take hold of his horse or was there any physical interference. However, the way the rule is written it seems to me that because McNair was in fact in the passing lane during the stretch drive he has to be placed second. So what happens going forward if in fact there is a placing? Every track with a passing lane will require the judges to review the stretch drive of every race to ensure the lead horse did not enter the passing lane regardless if any trailing horses opted for it. If a horse did not keep a straight path and veered into the passing lane, in order to be fair and consistent the horse would have to be placed back. I'm not sure that's the answer here. Perhaps re writing the rule with a bit more explanation of what can and cannot happen would be better. At the end of the day it will be a judgement call just as this was.

The problem here, is NOT the judges. After reading the rule, and watching the video, the call is correct.

The problem here, is the rule itself. I have seen this a few times and am mystified each time why the lead horse is even allowed to have a wheel in the passing lane. There is no excuse for this, and if it happens, the horse should be moved back.

Let's just say a horse goes a dream mile, and wins by 10, but gets put back because he put about 8 steps in the passing lane. With no one around him, he should not be placed back? Correct? Well..... this is an example of "it could be a few feet, or a few lengths, this horse didnt bother anyone", type explanation given by the judges and it make sense. If you have a zero tolerance for this rule, then you would have to toss this one, as quickly as you tossed the horse that won by 10, but poked a wheel in the passing lane for a bit.

I think the rule itself needs to be modified to "you can't enter the passing lane unless clear by 2 open lengths."

In reply to by Will Yamakva

Sorry Will Y but I disagree. Your suggestion would be like saying you can't go in the HOV lane but if no one else is in it within X of your car, go ahead. The rule is written as you either can or you can't go in the passing lane.

I think Filion would have won the race if he was able to wind his horse up as soon as the lane opened. Also take note that it is 2x as hard to gain momentum when your down on the inside as opposed to the outside. Passed the wire, Wrangler, finally gained her momentum and it was too late. Regardless if you have power or not the leading horse "CANNOT" move into the passing lane. That's why the the term was instituted.

It is 100% obvious that he entered the passing lane. Based on the way the rule is written the result should be overturned without even having to attend a hearing. Head shaker to say the least. How long do you think it will take them to rewrite this rule now!

As a punter I just won't play there anymore as I have lost total confidence in the integrity of their product. It's a shame because GR has many fine people who do their best to grow the sport, but that's the way I feel about it.

Violated the rule for sure, maybe inside a couple pylons too. I don't think Wrangler has enough to get by. But still a violation. Decisions like this hurt our industry.

I owned, trained and drove for over twenty years. Looked to me that Sylvain did not have enough power through the lane, he worked his horse from the top of the lane thru the wire, did not take a hold of his horse at any time to reduce her momentum, the lines were loose and he appeared to be teaming full out.
I realize that owners can look at the results, when close, with emotion and have the right to appeal a judges decision if they think it's wrong but in this case I don't see it.

Sylvain is one of the best drivers at WEG, it will be interesting to hear his comments.

Just my opinion.

A clear violation of the passing lane rule. If Im passing another car on the HWY and THAT car swerves over and cuts me off causing an infraction, whose fault is it in the eyes of the law. PURE politics being played. Transparency is a must in this situation.

I saw this race as it happened and said 100% hes gone. Worse non call I have ever witnessed on an inquiry. Horse 100% takes away passing lane and gets left up. Horrible horrible call that needs to be overturned. How was this even possible that the horse was not disqualifed and the owners of the second place horse even have to go to a hearing to try and get justice?

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