This week brought sad news of the passing of a local handicapping icon. Known to many as ‘Swami,” Tom Downs died Nov. 7 at the age of 78.
Swami played the horses for more than 50 years. He was a fixture at Canterbury for many of them. Those that listened to his words of wisdom, handicapping or otherwise, were wiser for doing so, and if he was wrong, at the very least the listener was entertained.
There were times when not listening was not an option as Swami’s booming voice would fill the Ascot Lounge. Those were marvelous days at the track. Things were often raucous when Swami was in top form.
His handicapping theories were many and occasionally if you watch TVG you will hear him mentioned, with great respect, by Matt Carothers or Todd Schrupp, both Canterbury alumni. It was a privilege to be in on the wondrous secrets of the Swami.
The Swami knew.
Majestic Affair, the 2-year-old first-out maiden winner at Canterbury this summer, that was subsequently sold for a large sum by owner/trainer Doug Oliver, will race Saturday at Laurel in the $100,000 James F. Lewis III Stakes.
It appears the contest for leading trainer at Turf Paradise may be over just a month into the meet. Canterbury’s leading trainer Robertino Diodoro has won 29 of 71 starts (41 percent) and finished in the money 70 percent.
California racing steward Tom Chaney had this to say:
“We all agreed, the number 7, Bayern, broke in, but did it cost the number six, Shared Belief, or the number four, Moreno, a placing? We talked to Mike Smith (Shared Belief’s jockey) and Martin Garcia…in our determination it didn’t happen at a point of the race where it changed where they were reasonably expected to finish.”
Evidently there is a point during a race when crossing over on your opponents would change what was reasonably expected but that wasn’t it. Not sure if it is still in existence but the NFL had a rule where a defensive back was allowed to jam a receiver in the first five yards from the line of scrimmage. Maybe that is the case in California racing as well.
A local handicapper had an interesting suggestion. Much like the NFL does when selecting officiating teams for the league’s biggest games, the Breeders’ Cup should appoint an all-star team of stewards to adjudicate this sport’s biggest day.