NSA rule banning apprentice riders at Saratoga roils steeplechase world
- August 16, 2017
- By SARA CAVANAGH
A pair of controversial rules, both concerning the $75,000 Mrs. Ogden Phipps Filly and Mare Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 3, has created controversy in the steeplechase community.
First, the Nation Steeplechase Association ruled that Forest Boyce, a flat jockey who had never ridden in a steeplechase race, could ride in that stakes race at Saratoga.
That ruling alone had trainers, riders and fans scratching their heads and worrying that it would turn out badly.
And it did turn out badly, both for Boyce and, unfortunately, for another female apprentice rider, Keri Brion, whose horse fell at the second fence, apparently through of fault of Brion's, as, although the results of the autopsy are not in yet, most felt the horse died of a heart attack..
Boyce was completely out of control throughout the race and did not finish, thus costing those who had bet on her.
Continuing steeplechase racing at Saratoga has always been a bit questionable, and NSA, with two non-finishers, almost immediately ruled that apprentice riders could not ride at either Saratoga or Belmont, a ruling many felt was a knee-jerk reaction and way too onerous.
As the race progressed, first Bruce Smart Jr.'s Fall Colors, trained by Jimmy Day and ridden by Brion, was neck and neck for the lead when she fell at the second fence.
After watching the rerun and interviewing a good number of people who had watched the race, and some who had even watched the rerun in slow motion, it seemed clear that Fall Colors never even attempted to take off over the fence.