Updated on 09/16/2011 7:51AM

Aqueduct: 'Princess' avoids DQ


JAMAICA, N.Y. - People's Princess had to survive a 12-minute stewards' inquiry and a trainer's objection to win the Grade 3, $108,600 Rare Treat Handicap* at Aqueduct.

Zonk, who defeated People's Princess in last month's Affectionately Handicap, finished second, but was disqualified and placed fourth for interfering with A.O.L. Hayes in upper stretch. A.O.L. Hayes, who finished fourth, was moved to third. Pocus Hocus, who finished third, was moved to second.

Racing in fourth position under Norberto Arroyo Jr., People's Princess ($5.60) swept three wide coming into the stretch and outfinished Zonk, who rallied along the rail under Chuck Lopez, to win by 1 1/4 lengths. But, when those two horses made their moves, A.O.L. Hayes was steadied by jockey Jose Espinoza.

The stewards posted the inquiry sign and Mark Hennig, the trainer of A.O.L. Hayes, called from Florida, where he watched the race, to claim foul against both People's Princess and Zonk. Only the number of People's Princess was blinking on the infield board because of what the pan shot revealed, according to New York Racing Association steward David Hicks.

But after looking at the back shot, the stewards concluded that Zonk had come off the rail, causing the interference and was disqualified.

Rift Valley, who appeared to be in the hands of the assistant starter when the gates opened and was off slowly, finished fifth, followed by Kris Pit and Poivre. The stewards looked at the incident involving Rift Valley, but ruled she was not being handled at the break.

"She came off the bridle turning for home," Lopez said of Zonk.

"I'm riding my race straight, I'm going with [A.O.L. Hayes]," said Arroyo, who rode three winners on the card. "I think C.C. Lopez tried to go out when he couldn't, that's what caused that horse to check. If he stays straight a little more, [A.O.L. Hayes] was going to come back anyway, she was tired."

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