Marble Cliff is a maiden no longer.
The 4-year-old gelding, who won two stakes and two other races only to be disqualified from all of his starts last year when it was found he really wasn’t Ohio-registered, got his first “official” victory Feb. 28 when he destroyed a maiden special weight field at Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort in West Virginia.
Ridden by Luis Martinez Jr. for trainer William “Doug” Cowans, Marble Cliff, whose Jockey Club registration was changed to Kentucky-bred after an Ohio State Racing Commission investigation last summer, won the one-mile maiden test by 11 1/2 lengths in 1:40.23 on a fast track. Marble Cliff rated from the start, took over with ease at the half-mile point, and strolled home in hand to pay $2.60 to win.
Last year, Marble Cliff won the Ohio-restricted $50,000 Howard B. Noonan Stakes and $100,000 Cleveland Gold Cup after victories in state-bred maiden and allowance company. He then finished a troubled third in a restricted stakes on the turf. His owner, Foxwood Stable, had to return more than $100,000 in earnings after the OSRC probe.
Marble Cliff—the Kentucky-bred—returned to the races in December and finished second and third, respectively, in two maiden special weight events at Turfway Park. Marble Cliff, by Jump Start out of the Strawberry Road mare Leza, has trained well on the Polytrack surface at Turfway but seems at his best on dirt.
Counting his “victories” in 2008, Marble Cliff is five-for-five on the dirt. He has now earned $19,244 since the change in his registration.
Marble Cliff’s Mountaineer win came on the eve of tougher Ohio-breed registration rules that stemmed from the OSRC investigation. The rules take effect March 2, the next day of live racing in the state.