The Ontario Racing Commission has overturned the disqualification of Robert Evans’ Marsh Side from first to fourth in the 2009 Northern Dancer Stakes (Can-IT) (VIDEO) at Woodbine and restored the original order of finish.
Although they did not post an inquiry sign immediately following the race, the stewards, acting on an objection filed by jockey Garrett Gomez, reviewed the race and determined the winner had interfered with Quijano and Champs Elysees, who finished third and fourth, respectively, in the Sept. 20 race. Just As Well, who finished second but was not a part of the inquiry, was awarded the victory after Marsh Side was disqualified.
Gomez, who rode Champs Elysees, claimed foul against jockey Javier Castellano, aboard Marsh Side, and jockey Andrasch Starke, who rode Quijano. The stewards took no action against Starke, but suspended Castellano for three days. In addition to overturning the disqualification of Marsh Side, the commission also dismissed the suspension of Castellano, who appealed.
According to the ruling, steward Richard Grubb testified that based on the stewards’ viewing of the race and from the video replay, there was "obvious interference on the horse Champs Elysees during the stretch run of the race. The horse that caused the interference by creating a ‘herding’ effect was Marsh Side as jockey Castellano moved him from the eight path to the two path, thereby forcing the horse Quijano, ridden by jockey Andrasch Starke, to move in towards Champs Elysees."
Although there was no contact with Champs Elysees, the stewards disqualified Marsh Side based on the rule that reads "When clear, a horse may be taken to any part of the track, but if a horse swerves or is ridden to either side so as to interfere with or intimidate or impede any other horse, such horse may be disqualified."
As part of their appeal, the Marsh Side team presented split screen video formatted from the official video and pictures made from that same formatted video that "clearly show that Marsh Side, throughout the stretch run, never crowded Quijano thereby forcing the horse down towards the two path as there was always space between them and that Marsh Side was never clear in front."
The commission also heard from a number of witnesses, including former jockeys Jerry Bailey and Robert King and former steward Bernie Hettel, on behalf of Marsh Side and Castellano. The two riders and Hettel agreed that they saw no riding infraction by Castellano.
"It is inconclusive that Champs Elysees was interfered with during the stretch run," the commission reported, adding that Castellano presented "uncontested testimony" that there was "enough room for three horses and that jockey Gomez did not have to check his horse."
The commission noted that its review of the case "is not a process by which we determine whether or not what our judges and stewards do is correct or incorrect. They must make a call based upon what they see at the racetrack and what they hear at the stewards’ hearing." Rather, the commission’s action was based on the testimony "that we hear today--oral, video and written."