The board of stewards at River Downs has ruled two Thoroughbreds—one of which had earned more than $100,000—aren’t registered Ohio-bred horses, and their owners must repay the earnings.
The rulings, handed down Aug. 15, will be considered by the Ohio State Racing Commission at its Aug. 21 meeting. Two hearings are scheduled on the rulings, which have been appealed.
The horses in question are Marble Cliff, a 3-year-old gelding that won the $100,000 Cleveland Gold Cup this year, and Houston Heist, a 3-year-old filly. The horses’ respective owners are Foxwood Stables and Shazam Stables, both of which have among their principals Beulah Park owners Charlie Ruma and Joe Sugar.
Ruma, whose racetrack didn’t apply for 2009 Thoroughbred dates, is expected to attend the hearing.
The rulings said the horses weren’t qualified to race in any Ohio-restricted races. According to equineline.com, Marble Cliff is now credited only with $60,000 in earnings—the winner’s share of the Gold Cup purse, according to equineline.com. Earnings for Houston Heist have dropped to $5,930.
The stewards’ ruling, however, said all of Marble Cliff’s earnings are in question. In that case, the winner of four of starts would be considered a maiden.
Marble Cliff, by Jump Start out of the Strawberry Road mare Leza, was bred by David Shashura and Sugar. He was entered in the $750,000 West Virginia Derby (gr. III) Aug. 2, but was scratched after the OSRC notified the owners the day before that the gelding’s Ohio registration had been canceled.
Houston Heist, by Cat Thiefout of the Houston mare Lady Houston, was bred by Shashura and his wife.
The stewards in their rulings noted racing commission staff suggested no action except the refund of purse money should be taken against the owners, who “had no reason to believe their horse was foaled in any state other than Ohio.” It is believed the two horses were foaled in Kentucky, but the OSRC investigation is continuing.
In late July, an official with The Jockey Club said the organization would await the results of the racing commission probe. Under Jockey Club regulations, registration privileges can be revoked if it’s proven that fraudulent activity occurred.