Barry Irwin says he does not believe Isn’t He Perfect’s jockey Rajiv Maragh guilty of intentional interference with Mucho Macho Man in the Belmont Stakes, starting a chain of events that caused Animal Kingdom to be squeezed up, clipping the heels of a horse who came in on him, stumbling badly and nearly catapulting rider John Velazquez all the way out of his saddle.
Joe Drape reports in the New York Times:
Barry Irwin, the chief executive of Team Valor International, the partnership that owns Animal Kingdom, agreed that the mishap cost his colt but said he did not think that Maragh had acted out on purpose.
“Rajiv is not that kind of guy,” Irwin said. “Isn’t He Perfect is a tough horse to control. He was acting like an orangutan in the paddock in the Preakness. He did something similar at the start there, too. We got robbed of having a chance to run our race, which was pretty depressing.”
That’s some cool down by Irwin.
Following the Belmont Stakes, Irwin reportedly said on his Facebook page that:
“Isn’t He Perfect came over at the break, intimidated Mucho Macho Man, who slammed into Animal Kingdom so hard our colt nearly went down. Our jockey lost his left iron, which was not corrected until the turn. We never had a chance.”
And adding the following statement which caused Irwin some criticism:
“Isn’t He Perfect had no business being in this race and he screwed it up for a lot of horses today. Classics are no place for amateurs.”
Isn’t He Perfect was the longest shot in the Belmont Stakes.
Velazquez was furious after the race, saying that Maragh had acted on purpose, not in control of Isn’t He Perfect as Irwin now suggests. According to Drape’s article, Velazquez seems to have cooled down now too, settling for a charge of careless riding.
While careless riding is not as severe a charge as intentional interference, it is still serious. The stewards will review the race tape with the three jockeys involved Wednesday.
I love Joe Drape but had to smile to myself when he referred to the mile and a half race as a “marathon”.