Commentary

Send in the clowns, and the Fuzz

Updated: November 6, 2010, 12:57 AM ET
By Jay Cronley | Special to ESPN.com

Will somebody please call the cops.

Lots of people went to a three-ring circus today, and a few Breeder's Cup races broke out at Churchill Downs.

First off, a couple of jockeys went to fist city near the winner's circle after the opening Cup race, so much for the Sportsmanship Trophy.

Changing leads at the track used to refer to the horses, a lead being the first hoof to hit the ground. Horses change leads around turns, usually switching from a left foot lead to a right. Now, a lead is about a punch, it refers to the first fist to fly at some jock's kisser. In the opening BC race, jockey Javier Castellano ran in front of another jockey who almost crashed to the ground, and in turn ran in front of jockey Calvin Borel, the unofficial sheriff of the corral. After some back-room language and some finger pointing, Borel tried to make Castellano lame, had to be restrained and, more or less, dragged to the jockey's room. When Borel returned to ride later, he was surrounded by security, like somebody headed to a ring for a "rassle" royal, not a racing oval.

In the next race, the second, in what looked like an episode of "Castle," or a "Rockford" rerun, they started loading horses into the wrong gates.

Seriously.

After what happened before, and after, it is somewhat amazing that they caught the mistake and got the horses backed out and into the correct gates.

Last, and worst, in the Ladies' Classic, they let a horse that could barely walk, run.

It used to be that inside info was passed around out behind a barn on the backstretch.

This time, the inside information was broadcast, live, to the world. First, a reporter on a horse reported that one of the favorites, Life At Ten, was not warming up correctly. Which was putting it mildly. It looked like it was on stilts. Its body language said, pass a candied apple, let's try this again another day. Randy Moss and the rest of the on-air people immediately knew that something dangerous, or lousy, or both, could be about to happen. Trainer Todd Pletcher was found and interviewed. He confirmed that the horse had been quiet in the stall, it had almost seemed "sedated."

On the whole, hard-working people don't want to invest precious money on a horse that can't trot so well, to say nothing of one that was incapable of speeding. I wouldn't know a track veterinarian from Uncle Bob, but watching the coverage on TV, I saw nobody in cowpoke boots or a western-cut suit closely inspect Life At Ten. But before anybody could politely ask, "Excuse me, but the one can't hardly move, can I please have my hard-earned money back?" they were in the gate and they were off and running in the Ladies' Classic.

Except for Life At Ten.

Which trotted stiff-legged on around.

I plan to ask for a refund on my $24 bet, which included Life At Ten, which should have been not only scratched, but probably tended to medically as well.

Though deserved, I sort of doubt the refund comes through.

How absurd was the day? I forgot I had hit a trifecta earlier.

Write to Jay Cronley at jaycronley@yahoo.com.