Date Set for Suwannee River Appeal

Date has been set for Suwannee River appeal.

An appeal seeking to overturn a stewards ruling that supported the original results of the Suwannee River Handicap (gr. IIIT) will be heard March 19, Gulfstream Park has announced.

Bill Greeley, former president of Keeneland, will preside over the hearing.

The results of the Suwannee River came under dispute after the horses crossed the wire in the Feb. 3 race, which carried a $100,000 purse.
Trainers Mark Hennig, who saddled second-place La Dolce Vita, and Todd Pletcher, conditioner of third-place J’ray, immediately protested the results when it was declared official by the stewards. The trainers claim the declared winner of the race, Green Girl, did not carry the weight assigned her, per house rules, “from paddock to post and post to finish.”

Gulfstream Park association stewards Chip Spencer and Jeff Noe heard the protests in a Feb. 14 hearing. State steward Kevin Sheen chose not participate and, in his absence, Bernie Hettel, Gulfstream Park racing operations manager served as the third person on the committee, without objection from the interested parties.

The protest was denied in a 2-1 decision, with the stewards finding that there was no evidence that the winner had gained an unfair advantage. Hettel did not concur and cast the dissenting vote.

Green Girl, who was making her final career start in the Suwannee River, was unruly in the post parade and on two occasions rider Rene Douglas came off the horse. Those that appealed the results claim Green Girl benefited from not carrying the assigned weight for upwards of eight minutes.

Hennig and Gary Zwerling, owner of La Dolce Vita, pled their case to stewards Feb. 15. Trainer Christophe Clement testified on behalf of Green Girl, who campaigned under Ronchalon Stable silks during her racing career.

As a handicap, the starters carried varying weights: Among the top four, Green Girl was assigned 118 pounds; La Dolce Vita, 117; J’ray, 121 and Waquot’s Love, 118.

Green Girl was first, a half-length in front of front of La Dolce Vita, in the Suwannee River. J’ray, the 2-1 favorite with Coa aboard, was a nose farther back in third with longshot Waquot’s Love another neck behind in a four-filly photo finish.