Ex-Associate Steward Contradicts Fermin in Intercontinental Case

In a March 15 declaration given under penalty of perjury, a former California associate steward stated the director of Del Mar security said he forwarded information about the mare Intercontinental getting a late Salix shot to the board of stewards, California Horse Racing Board investigators, and CHRB executive director Ingrid Fermin well before the running of the Palomar Handicap (gr. II) last Sept. 3.

The Salix shot needed to be administered four hours prior to race time in order to be within board guidelines, and veterinarian Amy Lee Nevens was fined $750 for giving the shot 40 minutes after the cutoff time, then falsifying a form as to when the shot was administered.

Fermin has maintained neither she nor the stewards knew about the late shot prior to the race, a position contradicted by Gina Powell, the associate steward. In her declaration, given to Los Angeles attorney Ronald S. Caswell, Powell said she first learned about the late Salix shot while monitoring her security radio. She added that CHRB investigators, Del Mar racetrack executives, Fermin, and other CHRB investigators are also provided with, or have access to, security radios and could have monitored the transmissions among security personnel as they discussed the late shot in the early afternoon of Sept. 3.

In her declaration, Powell states that "(Sam) Templeton (director of Del Mar Security) told me (shortly after 12:20 p.m.) he had forwarded all materials and information to the front-side offices, specifically to the Board of Stewards, CHRB investigators, and Fermin, for them to review and scratch the horse."

Powell added that she radioed Fermin to discuss the violation, but said Fermin never responded to the call. Powell added she was not authorized to scratch any horse from a race because "Fermin told me on many occasions that anything I did had to be personally approved by her." Fermin said she preferred to withhold comment until the release of the CHRB's investigation March 22..

Intercontinental was allowed to run in the $200,000 Palomar, and won the race, leading the owners of at least two horses that finished behind her to ask the CHRB for a re-distribution of the purse money because of the violation of CHRB Rule 1845, which forbids administration of furosemide (Salix) within four hours of a race.

Fermin subsequently prohibited that protest because it needed to be made within 72 hours of the Oct. 15 Board of Stewards' official ruling sanctioning Nevens. However, that official ruling did not mention the race or the horse involved in Nevens' violation of the rules. Attorney Roger Licht, representing Marsha Naify, co-owner of Palomar second-place finisher Amorama, has demanded a waiver of the 72-hour rule because "the (official) ruling was so vague that it would have been impossible for an aggrieved party to have requisite notice."

Jim Ford, co-owner of Palomar fourth-place finisher Katdogawn, has also written the CHRB asking for the Palomar purse to be re-distributed.

The CHRB tapped steward Scott Chaney to head an investigation into the Intercontinental incident. He is scheduled to deliver his report and recommendations to a CHRB committee March 22. The full board will meet the following day. Critics of the CHRB investigation point to the fact that no one interviewed in the Chaney investigation was under penalty of perjury when giving testimony, and they further note that, while Chaney is highly thought of, he works under Fermin, potentially a central figure in the investigation.