Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 10:03 AM

At the Gate - Wednesday

There has been a social media firestorm the past few days in the horse racing world regarding an assistant starter at Delaware Park that took a couple of shots at an unruly horse in the starting gate back on June 14.

A video surfaced showing an assistant starter punching a horse four times in the gate. The name of the horse was Accolade, who weakened to finish sixth in a maiden race.

After the video went viral Delaware Park suspended the assistant starter and a hearing was held on Monday.

The result?

“The Delaware Thoroughbred Racing Commission (DTRC) has advised Delaware Park that the Stewards have completed a thorough investigation of the incident that occurred in the starting gate before the fifth race at the racetrack on Thursday, June 14th and that no disciplinary action will be taken against the Assistant Starter. Based upon this determination, the Assistant Starter, who has been on suspension since the incident occurred, will be allowed to return to his position.”

I have owned horses, and actually ran a few at Delaware Park a few decades ago. Accolade’s owner Glenn Fagan released a statement that said in part, “The one factor that people can’t handicap, is an employee of Delaware Park taking his frustrations out on your horse. I am happy to see the outrage and indignation that this matter has received on social media.”

However, Fagan changed his tune in a second statement that said in part, “When I made my statement to you I was extremely upset over the incident that occurred at Delaware Park on Thursday. My trainer, Abel Castellano had not informed me that upper management, John Mooney, had not only reached out to him, but had sent the State Veterinarian to check on the welfare of Accolade as well. Though I personally have not heard anything from Delaware Park, I’m glad to know that they were concerned for the safety of my horse.”

“Abel had also informed me that the assistant starter involved in the incident, someone that he had known well and respected, had apologized to him as well. I understand that this man has worked for Delaware Park for some 20 years in an extremely dangerous job and a moment of frustration shouldn’t ruin his life. Able informed me that he is the best and most experienced starter on the team.”

I keep thinking to myself what I would have said or done if that would have been my horse loading in the gate and I saw someone toss four right jabs at the horse.

Some are coming to the assistant starters defense, stating he has a dangerous job and he was trying to protect the jockey and horse.

What I saw was someone abusing an animal in frustration, punching him in the face four times and then slamming his head against the gate.

For the DTRC to come out and basically say this guy did nothing wrong is one of the most outrageous things I have seen in my 30+ years of covering horse racing.

I doubt Delaware Park will ever get a dollar of my wagering bankroll in the future.

To purchase my Belmont Park Report for Wednesday click here .

Here is the opening race from Belmont Park to get the day off to a good start:

BEL Race 1 Clm $16,000 (1:30 ET)
#5 Connie A 7-5
#6 City of Dreams 6-5
#3 Tough Old Bird 5-1
#4 Our Whim 6-1

Analysis: Connie A chased the early pace and finished gamely when angling out three wide to just mid by a head last out at this level going 6 1/2 furlongs on the cut back from a mile. Now she adds blinkers and cuts back further to 5 1/2 furlongs. She catches a field void of much speed or talent and with the hood added she figures to be on the lead. She owns a solid pace profile throughout for Pletcher who is 30% winners when adding blinkers for the first time.

City of Dreams makes her first start since a sixth-place finish against straight three-year-old fillies for a $25,000 tag back in February. She graduated last November in her second career start for the Ward barn, taking the field gate to wire against $50,000 maiden claimers. She makes her first start here for the red hot Servis barn that has won with 14 of 27 starters at the meeting and is 40% winners (with a +ROI) with newcomers to the barn.

WIN: #5 to win at 7-5 or better.
EX: 5,6 / 3,5,6
TRI: no play

Today’s Featured Race of the Day from Belmont Park:

BEL Race 8 OClm $40,000N2X (1:18 ET)
#1 Macagone 5-2
#7 Gucci Factor 7-2
#6 Cloontia 2-1
#3 Mo Diddley 6-1

Analysis: Macagone is back in with state breds after setting the early fractions and tiring to finish seventh against open Alw-2 optional claimers going nine furlongs. He has not been in the mix in his six starts after winning the Dangers Hero over yielding turf last April at the Big A over yielding footing. The cut back in distance should suit him and he faces easier here taking on NY breds.

Gucci Factor tracked the early pace, came with a five wide bid and weakened to finish fourth last out in the slop in his first start off a 5 1/2-month layoff. The gelding has just two starts on turf, a seventh in his debut and two back he beat state bred Alw-1 foes in a good looking effort. The Clement trainee should be tighter second off the bench and may still have some upside making just his third career start on the lawn.

WIN: #1 to win at 2-1 or better.
EX: 1,7 / 1,3,6,7
TRI: 1,7 / 1,3,6,7 / 1,3,5,6,7

Live Longshots:
These are price plays for exotic players looking to find a couple of extra contenders to use in their trifecta and superfecta wagers. Or for those with smaller bankrolls, you might want to get in a small win-place wager.

Belmont Park
R2: #6 Lady Cavalier 8-1
R6: #5 Odie 8-1
R7: #1 Rosey Gal 12-1
R7: #2 I Like Your Style 8-1
R9: #7 Crater Rim 8-1
R9: #6 Frosty Linz 12-1

Good luck today!

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