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Watchful Eyes

During every race, stewards scrutinize the jockeys and horses.


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Your horse finished in the money? Hold your horses—before you collect your winnings, you’ll have to wait for the race results to be declared official on the tote board. The final word comes from the race track stewards.

“We’re almost like the instant replay officials in the NFL,” track steward Scott Chaney says. Along with two other stewards (track rules stipulate three at every race) he officiates at Santa Anita, Del Mar, and Los Alamitos. “We watch the race through binoculars, and we have TV monitors that show us seven different angles during a race.”

Chaney and his fellow stewards are on the lookout for interference during a race, or what he calls oddities. “It could be a horse pulling up in a race, or a horse not pulling out of the gate really strong. Was it a gate malfunction, or was it interference? We’ll talk to the rider and look at our camera angles. And then we evaluate the interference itself,” Chaney says.  “Did it actually cost the horse the chance to make a better place?”

Chaney attended USC law school and worked as an assistant trainer prior to becoming a steward. “We do a lot more than officiate at races,” he says. “Our workday starts at 9 a.m.” He says the stewards conduct hearings on a variety of alleged rule violations, everything from a horse testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs to a trainer’s parking violation. Don’t cross those stewards!

 

More: Del Mar, Decoded

Horse Betting 101
What to say at the betting window »

6 Things You Didn’t Know About the Races
A little insider knowledge »

Special Events
The 2014 season runs July 17-September 3 »

The Hat Contest
What it takes to win »

How a Horse Knows to Run
What makes horses “break,” or jump out of the gate »

What's in a Name
How horses get those unique monikers »

 

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