Over here in the US we had Ricardo Santana throw an elbow at David Cohen and Cohen, who is indeed rather scrappy, call him out on Twitter offering to settle things the old fashioned way. Apparently Cohen felt there is no place in racing for this type of behavior. Ironically Cohen was suspended for the same behavior last year at Oaklawn. As far as we know, Santana declined the invite.
The fact is these types of scrimmages have been a part of the Sport of Kings for a long time. They even worked their way into our most famous race, the Kentucky Derby. Yes the Kentucky Derby had quite the battle and while on horseback. It was enough to brand the race “The Fighting Finish” and I enjoyed researching it and writing about it. You can read about the Fighting Finish here, it is worth the read.
Shortly after the Cohen/Santana incident, and many miles away, Australian jockey Luke Tarrant was suspended six months after admitting to head-butting fellow rider Larry Cassidy at the weigh in following a race at Doomben. It seems the Aussies, at least Luke Tarrant took the fighting finish to a whole new level. While jocks room skirmishes are nothing new, a Glasgow Kiss at the weigh in is not something I can recall happening. There is a first for just about everything. Many of us remember Calvin Borel going after Javier Castellano verbally following the Breeders’ Cup Marathon some years back. This incident makes that incident look good.
As far as the suspension, the stewards took into account the breach of the COVID-19 social protocols and the potential for Tarrant’s actions to have an adverse effect on the racing industry. This makes me wonder what would the penalty have been for a head but to the nose with a helmet during so called “normal” times?
Tarrant was in the midst of a successful comeback after facing criminal drugs charges. The young rider seems to be very competitive, a good attribute for a rider to have. He has a tattoo across his chest which reads “Second Sucks.”
According to the ruling Tarrant and Cassidy had been involved in a scrimmage during the ninth race on Wednesday. Tarrant it seems did not take the David Cohen approach and call Cassidy out as Cohen did with Santana. Tarrant just threw him a head but to the nose. Ouch!
“Luke Tarrant pleaded guilty to misconduct which started out as a verbal altercation with Cassidy in the vicinity of the scales area. When Tarrant head-butted his fellow jockey, his helmet made contact with Cassidy’s nose causing an injury. Tarrant was disqualified for six months to commence immediately and to expire on October 22.”
The Stewards said in considering the penalty they took into account the significant contact to Cassidy. Six months is a considerable suspension for a rider. Is it enough to discourage this type of behavior? The answer to that is likely no. This can be an aggressive sport and is ultra competitive. Riders are filled with adrenaline during and immediately after a race. When you factor that, only the harshest of penalties could curb these altercations in a meaningful way.
Although I have never ridden a race, most of us can relate to when someone does something on the road that triggers road rage. On a motorcycle, you can escalate that rage considerably. You’re vulnerable, and that makes it all the worse. On a horse it must be even more intense with the hooves pounding the ground, and things happening faster than most can react. Riders are pound for pound among the strongest athletes out there. They have to possess exceptional reflexes and timing and you can imagine what it is like out there when someone on another horse outs you in harms way. We are probably going to see more fighting finishes, and more elbows flying. Hopefully Luke’s Glasgow Kiss is the last of those.