06/06/2005 12:00AM

Frostad will appeal disputed DQ of 'Ravens'


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Sunday's Plate Trial at Woodbine produced an exciting stretch duel that saw local star Dance With Ravens prevail gamely over New York shipper Three in the Bag.

But all the talk here Monday morning was not about the race itself but of the subsequent decision by the stewards, who disqualified Dance With Ravens, ridden by Todd Kabel, and placed him sixth after ruling that he had interfered with Atanas, ridden by Rui Pimentel.

Richard Grubb, one of three Ontario Racing Commission stewards here Sunday, issued the following statement after the race:

"About 20 yards out of the gate, Todd Kabel's horse drifted out on Atanas. Rui Pimentel's horse caught his heels and nearly went down.

"We had to disqualify [Dance With Ravens]. He came right in front of his path. When the horse hits heels you're in jeopardy of going down. That's more severe."

Kabel and Mark Frostad, who trains Dance With Ravens for Sam-Son Farm, were livid when the disqualification was announced and remained as hot as the weather here Monday.

"The bottom line is that Rui's horse broke late, and he never should have put himself up in that position," said Kabel. "Rui never took a hold, never took up on him. I was shocked they said he had clipped my horse's heels."

Frostad, who plans to appeal the decision to the Ontario Racing Commission, said the physical evidence ran contrary to the view of the stewards.

"When you've clipped heels there's always a cut, a scrape, a torn quarter," said Frostad. "My horse was clean as a whistle."

"I've had people say to me it was the worst call they've ever seen," continued Frostad. "It's hard enough to get these horses ready, for owners and trainers, but what about the bettors, who are trying to pick a winner?

"When something like that happens, everybody feels cheated."

Frostad and Kabel would have found many people in their corner, as the reaction from horseplayers to horsemen was almost unanimous in condemning the disqualification.

That number, however, certainly did not include the connections of Atanas, who had a more pressing concern on Monday morning.

Trainer Alec Fehr said Atanas had chipped an ankle during the Plate Trial and believes the injury occurred during the early skirmishing.

"He's done for the year," said Fehr.

Pimentel chose to speak of the Trial and its aftermath through his agent, Tony Esposito.

"Rui's very disappointed that the horse is injured," said Esposito. "Rui was sitting very comfortable, with his lines loose, and his horse was starting to settle very nicely.

"Todd's horse had come out, crossed, and he clipped heels. Rui took a hold, and the horse became very rank and nervous throughout the race. He lost his confidence, and seemed to be rattled by the whole experience."

The final say on what happened during the Plate Trial will now go to the Ontario Racing Commission, which will hear the appeal at an undetermined date at its downtown Toronto offices.

Frostad did allow that the Trial was not all bad news for Dance With Ravens.

"The great thing is, he ran a terrific race," said Frostad. "He improved in his fitness considerably. He has to be dead on for the Plate."

Hough optimistic about 'Bag'

Three in the Bag's connections also are looking forward to the June 26 Plate and a rematch with Dance With Ravens. Three in the Bag rallied from last place in the field of seven only to fall a neck short.

Three in the Bag has been based in New York with trainer Stanley Hough and was making his first appearance at Woodbine and his first under jockey Robert Landry.

"The trouble was getting him to relax, so I told Rob to take him off the pace a little bit," said Hough. "But the pace was slower than we thought, and I know we lost quite a bit of ground."

While Hough expressed the belief that Three in the Bag could have won the Trial outright with a better trip, Kabel had a different take on that viewpoint.

"My horse wasn't letting him by for anything," said Kabel. "The farther they went, the stronger he got."

Meanwhile, Hough admitted that the Plate's 1 1/4-mile distance had always been a concern for Three in the Bag, but his outlook was changing after the Plate Trial.

"I think the way he ran gives us a little more hope," said Hough. "Obviously he can lay closer; we can give him a different kind of trip.

"He's developed pretty nicely. He's run against some good horses right along, and he's still improving. This race opened up a lot of doors for him."

Three in the Bag will remain at Woodbine, in the barn of trainer Mike Doyle, to continue his Plate preparations. Landry will retain the mount.

Good effort from Get Down

The Plate Trial also was an encouraging race for Get Down, who was beaten 2 1/2 lengths as the unofficial third-place finisher under regular rider Slade Callaghan. Get Down was moved up to second following the disqualification of Dance With Ravens.

"It was his first time going two turns, and there were all these things happening," said Nancy Triola, who trains Get Down. "With the slow pace, he had to be up there close.

"Then, at the head of the lane, he was down on the inside. Slade wanted him outside, but nobody wanted to stay in their paths so when he swung him out it was a little exaggerated.

"He finished great; he was the only one picking up horses. I'm very happy with him."

Triola also believes the Plate distance will be not only attainable but an actual plus for Get Down.

"I'm definitely not worried about that extra eighth of a mile," she said. "I think that's going to help us."