03/04/2009 12:00AM

Claim-dispute rivals meet in Toboggan

Email

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - There will be an interesting subplot to Saturday's Grade 3, $150,000 Toboggan when Driven by Success makes his stakes debut against eight horses, including West Coast Flier.

Mike Repole owns Driven by Success, a New York-bred son of Precise End who returned from a 5 1/2-month layoff with a smashing 3 1/4-length victory in a statebred allowance race Feb. 7. Overall, Driven by Success has won three consecutive races.

On Jan. 30, Repole thought he added West Coast Flier to his stable when he had trainer Scott Lake claim him for $30,000 from High Grade Racing Stable. Repole and Lake won a three-way shake for the horse as two other outfits put in claims for him. But the stewards voided Repole's claim when they were alerted that Lake trains another horse for High Grade. The stewards believe it is "not in the best interests of racing" to have a trainer claim a horse from an owner for whom he already trains.

After voiding the claim, the stewards ordered a re-shake between the remaining two bidders for the horse. Gary Contessa and Winning Move Stable won that shake. They ran West Coast Flier in a third-level allowance race on Feb. 16, which the gelding won by four lengths for his fourth consecutive victory.

Repole has appealed the stewards' void of his claim and also asked the New York State Racing and Wagering Board to place the horse in receivership until the appeal is ruled upon. The board denied that request, and the appeal is not scheduled to be heard until March 16.

"I think it's a travesty that the horse is running, not so much whether 'Driven' is in the race or not," Repole said Wednesday. "There are a lot of nice potential stallions in the race, and to be graded-placed or to win a graded race I think is a big thing. If Lucky Island or Grand Champion gets bumped leaving the gate by West Coast Flier or gets nosed by West Coast Flier for second or third, if I was one of those other owners, I'd be pretty upset."

Repole noted that Driven by Success is a gelding, so a graded win won't help his residual value.

Driven by Success and West Coast Flier both have similar front-running styles and could get hooked up on the front end. The nine-horse field also includes Eternal Star, Place Your Bet, Joey P., Lucky Island, Saint Daimon, Grand Champion, and Ah Day.

Majhood, 'Cellar' meet in allowance

Perhaps if Kiaran McLaughlin didn't have two horses to run in Saturday's Grade 3 Gotham Stakes, he might have taken a shot with Majhood, who overcame a troubled start to win a two-turn maiden race here Feb. 1. Instead, McLaughlin entered Majhood in a first-level allowance race on Friday's card at 1 1/16 miles.

Majhood showed a strong turn of foot under Richard Migliore when forced to rally five wide in the stretch to win a maiden race in his second start. Majhood, a son of Awesome Again, was purchased for $600,000 by Sheikh Hamdan al-Maktoum's Shadwell Stable at the 2007 Keeneland September yearling sale.

"For only his second start, he showed all kinds of stuff," said Art Magnuson, McLaughln's New York assistant. "He took a lot of dirt, he was easy to handle for Richie, when he had to angle out turning for home. We like him for the future. If he were to do that again, we could look at some different 3-year-old stakes spots."

Among Majhood's chief rivals will be Cellar Dweller, who comes off a second-place finish to Haynesfield in the Whirlaway Stakes last out. Trainer John Campo Jr. said he and his owners, the Paraneck Stable, were between this and the Gotham for Cellar Dweller.

"This is probably a great spot for him," Campo said. "He's doing well. Hopefully, we get a good trip and see if we get lucky."

* Trainer Raphael Ramos began serving a 30-day suspension Sunday for violating New York's claiming rules. On Jan. 15, Ramos claimed Brogue for $10,000 for owner Aurora Springs Stable. Then, within a 30-day period, Ramos sold the horse to a different owner. State law prohibits anyone from selling a horse they claimed for 30 days from the time of the claim.