Owner Levels Conflict Charge at Calif. Steward

Disgruntled horse owner Jerry Jamgotchian, whose colt Past Tender was disqualified from victory in a July 28 race at Del Mar, has filed a conflict of interest complaint against one of the stewards involved and also protested the decision to the California Horse Racing Board.

In a July 30 letter from his attorney Ronald Caswell to Ingrid Fermin, executive director of the CHRB, and Richard Shapiro, the board's chairman, Jamgotchian contends that steward George Slender should have not been involved in the ruling disqualifying Past Tender. Slender is a defendant in a lawsuit filed by Jamgotchian in the running of a filly in a race the owner wanted to scratch from during the 2005 Del Mar meeting.

"Participation in a ruling by a biased steward is conduct detrimental to the interests of racing and further proof of Mr. Slender's personal animus against Mr. Jamgotchian," Caswell wrote in his letter to Fermin and Shapiro.

Past Tender, at odds of 24-1, led the $80,000 turf claiming race for 3-year-olds at one mile virtually from gate to wire, winning by a diminishing three-quarters of a length. However, following the stewards' inquiry, Past Tender was judged to have interfered with other horses when drifting out in deep stretch under urging from jockey David Cohen and was placed third. Stephen Bruce was awarded the victory. Favorite Wee Jinky was moved up to second from fourth place following the disqualification of a second horse in the race, the original third-place finisher Spunky Harry, who was dropped to seventh.

In asking the CHRB for a hearing on the disqualification, Caswell, on behalf of Jamgotchian, contends that Past Tender was clear of the field when he drifted out and did not interfere with any other horses. The attorney also seeks a board investigation of Slender's participation into the race inquiry, as well as an order that prevents Slender from making any further rulings that involve Jamgotchian.

Stewards Scott Chaney and Grant Baker, according to Jamgotchian, joined Slender in the ruling.

Jamgotchian has been a bitter critic of the CHRB during the past year, blaming it for the declining quality of California racing. During board meetings and in numerous e-mails, he has assailed Shapiro and Fermin, in particular, for their lack of leadership.

The Tim Yakteen-trained Past Tender was awarded $7,680 for his third-place finish, $38,400 less than he would have earned for the victory. Cohen was handed a three-day suspension from Aug. 5-7.