OZONE PARK, N.Y. — The final five races of Saturday’s card at Aqueduct were canceled after the jockeys refused to ride, citing a concern over the condition of the main track.
According to Kendrick Carmouche, the jockeys notified Glen Kozak, NYRA’s director of racing surfaces, about the track being uneven in spots on Friday. The jockeys rode all nine races without incident Friday.
Light snow fell early Saturday and throughout the first four races of the card. The riders again felt the track was uneven in spots and horses were bobbling.
Carmouche said that on Friday Irad Ortiz Jr. told Kozak there is “a problem at the half-mile pole with the ground not being even. We’re going into dips going around the turn. The whole backside feels the same way. All the riders felt a certain kind of way when you’re doing down and coming back up. That was the problem. It’s cold, but that didn’t bother us at all.
“Glen tried his best, he just needs more time and the weather’s not helping him,” Carmouche added. “It’s more time consuming for him to fix the track.”
Kozak declined comment about the condition of the track.
Martin Panza, the senior vice president of racing operations for NYRA said, “The jocks didn’t like the condition of the racetrack. At that point, for safety of rider and horse, we canceled the card.”
This is the first year that the main track is being used for winter racing. There is an area of the track where the chute meets with the main track and that historically has been a spot where there is a slight dip in the ground regardless of the season.
One of the races scrapped was the $100,000 Damon Runyon Stakes for New York-bred 2-year-olds. A decision had not yet been made on when that race will be rescheduled.
The weather forecast for Sunday and Monday calls for frigid conditions and puts those two cards in jeopardy of not being run. A decision on Sunday’s card won’t be made until early Sunday morning, according to Panza.