Sports News Without Access, Favor, Or Discretion

There was an actual tie yesterday at the Travers Stakes. Golden Ticket and Alpha finished in a dead heat, so nobody won. Or they both won? One of the jockeys said after the race, "Neither one of us knew if we won," and, while technically they both "won"—there were two separate first-place trophy presentations—you kind of have to think neither jockey knows, even now. Over 46,000 people watched the race and then stood around awkwardly while officials conferred about the results. Ultimately, the pot was split down the middle and both horses took shameful and ambiguous victory victory laps.

It was arguably more of a victory for Golden Ticket, who went to post with 33-1 odds and a jockey, David Cohen, who has long been disappointing dissolute gamblers betting on him at the Aqueduct because his name sounds Jewish. (Trust me.) Alpha had been described as a "lukewarm favorite," though he did sport 2-1 odds going into the race. While Golden Ticket paid $26.40 on a $2 bet after coming in first-ish, Alpha paid only $4.10 after placing somewhat first. One attendee described the scene as "kind of chaotic" and told us that that bettors, unsure whether their tickets were worth anything, were "freaking out."


Unlike when humans race, there was apparently a procedure in place to decide the official outcome in the event of dead heat (that procedure being "everybody wins," a recourse obviously not available in the case of Jeneba Tarmoh and Allyson Felix, who were competing for one spot on the Olympic team). This was not quite the first dead heat in the history of the Travers; 138 years ago the race ended in a tie as well. Back then, the tie was broken with a runoff—these days, a runoff any time even close to the original race would almost surely result in the death of one or both of the horses. Fortunately, both trainers accepted the result, and the horses were permitted to eat a bunch of oats instead of racing again and getting euthanized. Probably better that way.

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