02/22/2012 5:29PM

Golden Gate: Controversy over claim


The stewards at Golden Gate Fields allowed a claim made last Friday to stand, even though there were two errors on the claiming slip. Typically, a claim is disallowed if there are any mistakes on the claiming slip.

Powers Lilsis was claimed from Billy Morey after winning a $12,500 claimer on Friday. There were several claims put in for the 7-year-old mare, and Jerry Hollendorfer and his client George Todaro won the shake over Andy Mathis.

But the claiming slip that Hollendorfer submitted had two errors. The date of the race must be written in two spots, and the date was listed as Jan. 17, 2012 – not Feb. 17, 2012 – in both spots.

Steward Dennis Nevin said the stewards were not required to invalidate the claim. California Horse Racing Board rules lists errors that automatically invalidate a claim, but the date of the race is not listed specifically, Nevin said.

State rules hold that an invalidation can be ordered if the claiming slip “is otherwise so defective in any particular that the stewards cannot approve its validity.”

Nevin said an employee in the paymaster’s office admitted to writing in the mistaken date. (As a courtesy to trainers, people in the paymaster’s office sometimes help fill in part of the claim slip.)

“The person inadvertently wrote the wrong date and acknowledged it,” said Nevin, adding that the person who made the mistake was fined $200.

Several trainers said they were mystified by the decision of the stewards to let the claim stand.

“I just don’t get it,” said Morey. “There were two spots on the slip that were incorrect. Any time there are errors, it’s always voided.”

Trainer Duane Offield recalled that he had a claim voided because of a wrong date.

“I put in a claim with the right day, but I put in the previous year by mistake, and it was voided,” he said.

Mathis, who would have been awarded the claim had the original one been voided, said he has filed a protest with the racing board. He also said one of the partners in the small syndicate that made the claim was so upset by the incident that he has told Mathis he is going to get out of the sport.

“I don’t want to bash anybody or make anybody look bad, but it will be interesting to read what will come of this,” said Mathis.

Hollendorfer refused comment other than to say the ruling was no different than a decision to disqualify a horse.