Saturday’s featured “Big Bucks” event on Horsetourneys came down to the last race, and then still couldn’t be decided. That’s because the contest finale was the 13th at Saratoga, which had to go to the video tape for a stewards review after #4-A I Initiative crossed the wire second but appeared at first glance to lug out in the stretch and impede the progress of 4th-place finisher #5-Azzedine. I was watching live and clicked off the video feed, as I was sure A I Initiative was coming down for interference. It seemed clear to me that the interference cost Azzedine at least 3rd place, and I didn’t want to wait for the official announcement that had no impact on my life whatsoever.
But, I was wrong. No DQ. I learned this while in my car on the way to grab dinner. And at the first red light while taking a quick second to review Racing Twitter, I noticed that Anthony Trezza was taking particular exception to the stewards decision to let A I Initiative stay up. The reason? It cost him $10,000 in the Horsetourneys contest. Trezza was in the lead with one race to go in the $20,000 Guaranteed Pick and Pray, and Gary Machiz was in second, a mere $3.50 behind Trezza. In the last race, Machiz used A I Initiative, and Trezza had Azzedine. A DQ by the stewards would have kept Machiz in second. But the $22 maximum place payout gave him more than enough to overtake Trezza. First place was worth $14k. Trezza’s second place take was $4k. It’s also arguable that Azzedine may have won the race without the interference. Perhaps not likely, but the interference seemed pretty clear and who knows what might have happened?
No word on whether or not Trezza, an optometrist, will be offering a free eye exam to the NYRA stewards.