Ohio State Racing Commission officials said June 11 an investigation into the circumstances behind a race in which the wrong horse competed and finished last as the favorite at River Downs near Cincinnati revealed it was a mistake with no fraudulent intent.
On May 30 in the 13th race, a $5,000 claiming event for fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and up that hadn't won two races lifetime, Sing High Sing Low was listed as number 12 in the program, but it was actually the maiden Mountain Of Light that competed and finished last as the slight betting favorite.
Both 3-year-old fillies were listed as being owned by Billy Hays and trained by Joe Woodard. The Daily Racing Form
chart for May 30 reads: "Mountain of Light, racing misidentified as Sing High Sing Low, dueled for the lead from the outside, was used up and stopped in the stretch."
The chart also said Sing High Sing Low (Peaks and Valleys--Songs of Praise, by Palace Music) was "scratched." Mountain of Light (Jules--Solar Annie, by Sejm) was entered in a $5,000 maiden-claiming race the next day at River Downs, and was subsequently scratched.
Luther Heckman, chairman of the racing commission, said June 11 he had spoken with Clifford Nelson, the commission's executive director, about the incident.
"It seems to me Clifford had come to the conclusion that it was an honest error, but there had to be fines," Heckman said. "It was not a fraudulent problem."
Nelson could not be reached immediately for comment, but Steve Zaper, an investigator with the racing commission, said Woodard was fined $500 for leading the wrong horse to the paddock, and was fined another $250 for bringing the wrong horse over on another day at River Downs. (That horse was scratched and didn't race.) Patricia Mularkey, the horse identifier at River Downs, was fined $250.
Woodard was the third-leading trainer at the meet through June 10 with 11 wins. He had the most starts of any trainer with 59.
All parties had 48 hours to appeal, but no appeals were filed. Heckman said because of that, the matter wouldn't come before the full commission.
The commission by policy doesn't reveal details of investigations, but Zaper said: "We look into all other possible angles on something like this."
In the May 30 race, Mountain of Light, racing as Sing High Sing Low, was the 5-2 favorite. The total win, place, and show pool was $37,017. The winner was Kobemon at 5-1, followed by Strawberry Turn in second at 29-1, and Subtle Style, the co-favorite at 5-2, third. The $2 exacta paid $261.40, the $2 trifecta paid $2,350.60, and the $2 superfecta paid $8,371.40.
A claim was lodged for Sing High Sing Low, but the trainer who claimed her discovered he had the wrong horse a few days later, according to individuals who frequent the River Downs barn area. Zaper said the claim was voided.
Meanwhile, Sing High Sing Low was entered again June 10 at River Downs. She finished second in a $5,000 claiming event for non-winners of two races lifetime and was claimed, but not by the same trainer.