04/26/2004 11:00PM

Apple Blossom result changed


The Arkansas Racing Commission on Tuesday reversed a decision by the Oaklawn Park board of stewards and disqualified Wild Spirit from second to third for interfering with Star Parade in the stretch of the $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap on April 3.

The decision, which could be subject to further appeal, was reached by a vote of 3-1, with one member abstaining. The appeal was heard by the commission at its headquarters in Little Rock, Ark.

The appeal was lodged by California-based trainer Darrell Vienna, who argued that Oaklawn Park stewards Johnnie Johnson, Larry Snyder, and John Ferrara were in error by not disqualifying Wild Spirit and placing her third for a bumping incident.

The appeal did not affect race winner Azeri. Instead, it focused on an incident between Wild Spirit and Star Parade in early stretch.

Turning for home, Wild Spirit drifted out and bumped Star Parade. At the time, the two were fighting for second, 2 1/2 lengths behind Azeri.

Azeri won the Apple Blossom by 1 1/2 lengths over Wild Spirit, who finished 1 3/4 lengths in front of Star Parade.

The Oaklawn Park stewards conducted an inquiry but did not change the order of finish.

Jockey John McKee, who rode Star Parade, filed an objection against Wild Spirit, who was ridden by Jerry Bailey. The stewards disallowed the objection.

According Bob Cohee, the manager of the Arkansas Racing Commission, Sumaya Us Stable, which owns Wild Spirit, has 30 days to file an appeal with the circuit court.

During the hearing, Vienna called former jockey Corey Black as an expert witness to discuss race riding. Black is an agent for jockey Patrick Valenzuela in California.

The commission's decision has a significant affect on prize money. Star Parade's connections have gained an additional $50,000 and will earn $100,000, while Wild Spirit's earnings have been halved, to $50,000.