06/16/2008 12:00AM

Churchill fined $15K


The Kentucky Horse Racing Authority has fined Churchill Downs Inc. $15,000 in an agreement reached between the two parties regarding Churchill's decision to hire an assistant starter specifically to handle one horse, Pyro, in the Kentucky Derby, the racing authority said Monday after a meeting.

Under the agreement, Churchill has not admitted wrongdoing in the incident. According to the racing authority, trainer Steve Asmussen asked Churchill officials to hire the starter, Clinton Beck, to work with Pyro in the starting gate for the Derby, and a Churchill official agreed. According to authority rules, regulations do not allow specific assignments for starters.

A review of videotapes for the Derby did not indicate any "inappropriate behavior" by Beck in the starting gate, according to the racing authority. Stewards are continuing an investigation into the actions of Beck and Asmussen for possible violations of rules. Pyro finished eighth in the Derby.

"We are satisfied the running of Kentucky Derby 134 was not impacted by the assignment of the assistant starter to this particular horse," said Lisa Underwood, the executive director of the authority.

Also after the meeting, Underwood said that a hearing scheduled for Tuesday to discuss whether Patrick Biancone violated terms of a one-year suspension handed down last year has been postponed to an undetermined date.

The suspension, which began on Nov. 1 of last year, prohibits Biancone from training for a six-month period. He is also prohibited from seeking a trainer's license for one year from the date of the suspension.