by Garnet Barnsdale
It’s not very often you see a horse barred from wagering, and it typically occurs with a superstar that lays over the field, like Niatross, for one.
On the rare occasion when a horse is removed from the wagering, however, it always happens in advance and is noted in the program. Always, that is, until this past Tuesday afternoon at Monticello raceway when the eight-year-old E Dees Cam gelding Goban was barred from wagering after the windows had opened and bettors had been wagering on him.
Goban, who was listed as the 5-2 favorite in the program, had just been claimed in his previous start by leading trainer Dolores Basilone for owner Rene Allard and he was initially coupled in the wagering with Curator, also a Basilone trainee.
Shortly after wagering opened, there was about $4,000 bet to show on the entry out of a total of $4,300, as it seemed close to a sure thing to land at least one of them in the money. Then, events turned strange to say the least.
According to racing fan/bettor Michael Zeisler, who was watching and wagering on the Monticello races, there was an announcement that there was a “tote delay.” Not long after, the announcer told the betting pubic that wagering was no longer being accepted on the 1 entry. Several minutes after that – Zeisler estimates it at 40 minutes — Curator was scratched as part of the entry. Although the 1 entry had been barred from wagering, they odds on the 1 stayed on the board for a considerable amount of time before being removed and the odds fluctuated.
When the race started, Goban was racing for purse money only, and as expected, the son of Falcons Future mare Clonara T easily took care of his competition, winning for the 21st time in his 149 race career, this time in a sharp 1:55.2, by six lengths.
He returned…nothing, because you couldn’t wager on him, but what is bizarre about this whole situation is that bettors were never told why. Zeisler said that he contacted Monticello’s vice-president of racing Eric Warner and got no response.
A thread started by Zeisler in the popular 3,100-member Facebook group Horse Racing Forum of America generated a buzz surrounding the bizarre events. Some of the group’s members theorized that the track took it upon themselves to take Goban out of the wagering to avoid paying the price of a bridge jumper in the show pool after seeing the early $4,000 hit and fearing subsequent large show wagers.
That may or may not be the case and perhaps we’ll never know, but this much is sure: it is truly a strange set of circumstances to see a horse barred from wagering after betting has already opened and the horse had already taken wagers.