09/12/2014 2:23PM

Fines for claim conspirators

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Two men have been fined $1,250 apiece for their roles in a voided $5,000 claim that occurred following a race last weekend at Churchill Downs.

The Churchill stewards issued the fines Friday against owner Tim Brown and his brother-in-law, Kenny Hickman, after Hickman made what is known as a protective claim for Au Moon, an 8-year-old gelding who was a 9 3/4-length winner of the first race here Sept. 7 under Brown’s silks.

Hickman, who was not on hand Sunday to care for Au Moon after the race, was purported to have signed the only claim submitted for Au Moon, but the claim was voided after the stewards interviewed both men this week. Hickman has not run a horse in his name since March 30 at Turfway Park.

“They both were very forthcoming, honest, and apologetic,” said chief steward Barbara Borden.

Three Kentucky Horse Racing Commission regulations articulating the illegality of such a claim were cited in the ruling, one of which reads in part that a person “shall not claim a horse in his or her care, directly or indirectly, for his own account.” As brothers-in-law, Brown and Hickman were deemed to be acting on each other’s behalf, said Borden.

David Carroll, who has trained Au Moon throughout the gelding’s 29-race career that began in October 2008, was absolved of wrongdoing in the incident.

Au Moon, an earner of $188,922, is still owned by Brown and has been returned to the Carroll barn at Churchill, although Borden said it has not been determined whether Carroll will continue to train him. Au Moon, who had been competing in the midlevel claiming ranks and in starter races since returning from a lengthy layoff in November 2012, had never dropped so low in price and is now eligible for $5,000 starter races.

A protective claim is one with the intent of returning a horse to its original owner or trainer after a 30-day moratorium has elapsed. Such a move is typically undertaken when it is believed a horse will be claimed by an outside interest and its current connections are hoping to keep the horse by way of winning a post-race “shake” for the horse.