Charles Town Fires Placing Judges

Charles Town Races & Slots in West Virginia fired three placing judges who called the wrong order of finish for the second race Sept. 9, according to head state steward Danny Wright.

Preston Herbst is the trainer and owner of 24-1 outsider Kris Taylor, who was originally placed second to Bella Cavello Stables' 2-1 favorite Seven Talents. Herbst appealed the official order of finish the day after the race, which led to an investigation by the board of stewards and a hearing Sept. 15.

Wright said the judges--John Desmond, Larry Sanders, and Beth Weatherspoon--missed a step in the reviewing process when they didn't look at a mirror-image photograph of the finish before making the race official. The three judges admitted their decision about the order of finish would have been different if they had viewed the image.

"These are three good people that made a human error," Wright said. "They failed to take advantage of all the technology and sophisticated equipment we have here in rendering a decision as to where to place these horses."

The stewards have now reversed the positions of the first two horses and redistributed the purse, based on the correct order of finish. For pari-mutuel purposes, the original result stands.

Though their error wasn't done with intent or malice, Wright said, the judges were subsequently terminated by Penn National Gaming Inc., which owns Charles Town. As a result, the stewards decided not to issue additional penalties.

Charles Town has filled the three vacant positions with three existing employees. The responsibility of placing judges is to call the official order of finish and post the running positions of horses.