The New York Racing Association voided a claim Jan. 28 at Aqueduct after its Horse Identification Department discovered the claimed mare--Free Dip--was actually the 5-year-old Miss Stella and had raced under the wrong name in all 27 of her starts.
"From the start of her career, Miss Stella had been allowed to race with the wrong name and pedigree, and even her lip tattoo was incorrectly consistent with the foal papers," NYRA chief horse identifier Jim Zito said in a release. "It was a close call as to whether or not this horse should have run at all. But it was dedicated follow-up work and this department's system of checks and balances that has corrected this ongoing mistake and prevented its perpetuation."
Officials from The Jockey Club said Feb. 1 they are awaiting results of a DNA-typing test on "Free Dip." The sample was shipped to the University of California-Davis, and the results, which will confirm or deny the mare's identity, are expected in a week or less.
Gumpster Stable's "Free Dip," who ran fifth in a field of six, was claimed by trainer John Campo Jr. for Team West Side Stables for $20,000. NYRA voided the claim after the mix-up was discovered.
The real Free Dip is an unraced 5-year-old chestnut daughter of Fly So Free out of Little Dipper, by Thirty Eight Pieces. Miss Stella is by Yarrow Brae out of Faster and Farther, by Thirty Eight Pieces. Both mares were bred in Maryland by Alan Anthony Jr.
"Free Dip" finished third in the 2004 Squan Song Stakes at Pimlico Race Course and last year was claimed for $25,000 at Laurel Park. The mare also raced at Charles Town Races & Slots, Colonial Downs, and Delaware Park in her career. Her Jan. 28 start was her first in New York. She has earned $117,010 with four wins, three seconds, and three thirds.
The NYRA identifiers employ a system of checks and balances to ensure every horse at Aqueduct, Belmont Park, and Saratoga is the right horse entered to compete. In addition to lip tattoos and descriptions on foal papers--color, leg and face markings, and cowlicks--horses are identified by "night eyes" or "chestnuts," which are callous markings on a horse's legs that are as unique to a horse as fingerprints are to humans.
"Most of the criteria matched up, but there was a slight discrepancy in one of the cowlicks," Zito said in the release. "This incident happened on the weekend, and normally, our identifier would have called The Jockey Club as a backup. The Jockey Club office was closed, however, so our identifier had the option of letting the horse run or scratching it."