Official Recommends Queen City Oaks Be Rerun

The executive director of the Ohio State Racing Commission has recommended the July 22 Queen City Oaks, marred by a starting gate malfunction that delayed the start for seven 3-year-olds fillies in a field of 12, be rerun Aug. 13 at River Downs.

Stewards declared the $100,000 Ohio-bred fixture at River Downs near Cincinnati a "no contest" because gates on more than half the starting stalls failed to open with the others. The delay cost the affected horses several lengths at the start. In addition, Money Card flipped in the gate just before the start in post five, and never competed in the race.

A refund of all wagers was ordered. 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 10 lengths to win in 1:52 2/5 on a track rated good. Stone Lakes held for second, with Sybles Angel third.

Bill Troilo rode heavy 4-5 favorite Cryptoquip for trainer Tom Proctor. Cryptoquip, by Cryptoclearance, was bred by Alexander. The filly had broken her maiden by six lengths at Churchill Downs in May.

"I do believe the proper thing to do is redraw and rerun the race," commission executive director Sam Zonak said the morning of July 24. "Stewards called the race a 'no contest'--the race didn't happen. The bottom line is that more than half the field didn't get to participate.

"They had the opportunity to make the seven horses non-starters, and if they had said that, the race goes. If they had said seven horses were non-starters, we'd be compelled to let the race stand."

Zonak cited the Ohio Thoroughbred racing regulation called "fair start," which states: "The starter shall give such orders and take such measures not in conflict with the rules of racing, as are necessary to secure a fair start. Should an accident or malfunction of the starting gate, or other unforeseen event during a race, compromise the fairness of the race or safety of race participants, the stewards may declare individual horses to be non-starters, exclude individual horses from one or more pari-mutuel pools, or declare a 'no contest' and refund all wagers except as otherwise provided in the rules involving multi-race wagers."

Zonak said he expects the connections of the top-finishing horses in the Queen City Oaks might not agree with the decision. "And I can always be overruled by (members of the racing commission)," he said.

Zonak said the commission requested a report from the starter at River Downs, and also consulted with horsemen and Thistledown, the other Ohio track currently open, to find the best date to rerun the Queen City Oaks, the richest event for Ohio-bred 3-year-old fillies.

On Aug. 12, River Downs will hold the $50,000 Vivacious Stakes for Ohio-bred fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and up, at 1 1/16 miles on the turf. On Sept. 2, Thistledown near Cleveland has scheduled the $75,000 Rose DeBartolo Memorial for Ohio-bred 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles on the dirt.

Among the horses that didn't get a fair start in the Queen City Oaks was Eugene Daniels' Tommeyesgold, clearly the second choice in the wagering and the only other horse that wasn't double-digit odds. There were 12 starters but only nine betting interests because of one three-horse entry and one two-horse entry.

River Downs regulars were left shaking their heads after the incident. In hundreds of races so far this season, there hasn't been a starting gate malfunction. The starting gate used for turf races was employed for the July 22 program's final race, which was moved to the dirt because of a wet grass course.