Saturday, May. 18, 2024

New Fines And Regulations At Casanova

The author provides a humorous slant on some new rules posted at the season’s first point-to-point.

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The author provides a humorous slant on some new rules posted at the season’s first point-to-point.

GroundHog day arrived cloudy in Virginia, and that meant that the point-to-points were not far off for sport-starved steeplechase fans. On the way to the Casanova Hunt Point-to-Point, Feb. 21 in Warrenton, Va., a lean groundhog was spied out seeking a “free lunch,” though according to Milton Friedman the impression of a free anything is illusory. While America has been out to prove Mr. Friedman wrong on some other suppositions, the point-to-points must proceed.

This year a small list under the entries generated some buzz among the participants. The list proclaimed various and sundry infractions to be punishable by fines, if a guilty party could be established. Some examples:

For Riders:

  • Failure to Fulfill Commitment—$150
  • Careless Riding—$100
  • Fighting (presumably between riders)—$100
  • Going Off Course—$100
  • Failure to Give Best Effort—$100
  • Use of Abusive Language—$50
  • Frivolous Claim of Foul—$50


For Trainers:

  • Failure to Report Scratch On Time—$50
  • Late to the Paddock—$50
  • Instructs Rider to Give Less Than Best Effort—$75

No mention was made of where the funds so levied would be directed. Nor was there mention of an appeal process. On this day, it was obvious that a great many of these rules were already being broken, at least in spirit. For instance, the sixth race was due to go off at 3 p.m.; it was still in the paddock at 4:30. Therefore, at least some if not all the participants did not believe that “Late to the Paddock” was a rule that applied to them.

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In the words of Woody Allen “90 percent of success is just showing up.” Note here that a trainer’s fines were in the $50 range but riders’ fines were in the $100s. This strikes me as discrimination, cur-rently against the law in the United States. These fines appear to be a form of taxation, always a bad idea in the great Common-wealth of Virginia. However, it is time for the Stewards to come forward and issue fines appropriate to the new regime.
 
In a timber race, a jockey with a few lengths lead after the second-to-last fence was so intent upon watching the pursuing competition that he/she failed to properly negotiate the last fence, resulting in the purchase of some ground. Should the Stewards have slapped him/her with a $100 fine for an unsatisfactory ride or just given him/her some extra strength grass stain remover? I bet that jock will not be looking back the next time, fine or no fine. As Satchel Page was fond of saying, “Never look back, somebody might be gaining on you.”

I would like to propose a few additional regulations and fines as long as we are in a legislative mood.

1. There should be no drunkenness in the Paddock (at least until the fourth or fifth race). Inebriation makes for a perilous trip home. Fine: $200 and restitution for any property damage incurred.

2. Failure to start races on time $5 per minute of tardiness. Proceeds realized to be donated to fund the medical treatment of the victims of frostbite and hypothermia diagnosed after the sixth race. This rule need only be applied in February and March.

3. Fine $10,000 for organizers of Sunday races. Despite the results of the last national election in the United States, a great many God-fearing citizens would prefer to have the Sabbath remain a day of rest.

4. Use of a mechanical or chemical device to influence the outcome of a sporting event. Fine: $500. All proceeds to be directed to the purse structure of the VHBPA (Virginia Bred/Sired Flat Series). Since no drug tests are conducted in this series, the threat is somewhat empty.

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5. Rider failure to shine boots to at least the standard set by General U.S. Grant during maneuvers in “The War.” Fine $100.

6. Rider/Trainer failure to bring a flashlight to the Paddock for the last race. Fine $100 for riders and $50 for trainers.

Despite the perceived need for new legislation, a fine day of racing was had by all. There was only one lost rider and one unseated rider before the start. No breakdowns were observed. The ground was mostly soft and safe. What started as a mild day ended dark and cold, but that could not dampen the spirits of the faithful. Let us press to a safe if not prosperous year. 

William H. McCormick, VMD


Founder of the Middleburg Equine Clinic (Va.), William McCormick received his VMD from the University of Pennsylvania. He has ridden show hunters, eventers, foxhunters and race horses and played polo. In 1971 he earned a leading point-to-point rider award. He now frequently attends races as the official veterinarian.

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