Regular Gate Maintenance Ordered at Ohio Tracks

The Ohio State Racing Commission has ordered racetracks to ensure regular maintenance is performed on starting gates in the wake of a malfunction that resulted in the $100,000 Queen City Oaks at River Downs being called a "no contest."

Six of the 3-year-old fillies in the field of 12 were compromised when the gates on their stalls opened later than those for the rest of the field in the July 22 fixture. Money Card reared in the gate and never raced; the other fillies lost several lengths at the start and never contended.

Stewards at River Downs ruled a "no contest" after the race had been run and ordered a refund of all pari-mutuel wagers. Two days later, racing commission executive director Sam Zonak said it would be proper to redraw and rerun the race Aug. 13 because the "no contest" call meant the race didn't occur.

If stewards had ruled the affected horses were non-starters, refunds would have been ordered only on those horses. The race result would have stood, and the purse would have been paid after nominating and starting fees were deducted.

The first horse under the line in the Queen City Oaks was Elisabeth Alexander's Cryptoquip, who fought off constant pressure by Sydney Racing Partnership's Stone Lakes to pull away by more than 11 lengths to win in 1:52 2/5 on a track rated good. Stone Lakes held for second, with Sybles Angel third.

"I watched (the replay of the start) 20 times, and there's not much question the horses toward the inside were compromised," racing commission chairman Norm Barron said.

The rerun of the Queen City Oaks, the richest Ohio-bred 3-year-old filly stakes, will be limited to those horses entered July 22. It remains to be seen how many will return because some may have other engagements on their calendars.

The cause of the gate malfunction isn't known--"It was a fluke, I think," Barron said--but the commission investigated and provided recommendations to River Downs and other tracks in the state. The starting gates are magnetically sealed and use a grease-like substance for the springs, Barron said.

"We sent out an order that maintenance needs to be done on a regular basis," Barron said. "This was a fluke--there hasn't been a problem in thousands of races there."