03/06/2012 1:25PM

Golden Gate Fields: Stewards reverse decision after error on claim slip


ALBANY, Calif. – After initially allowing a claim despite an error on the claim slip, the Golden Gate Fields stewards have reversed their decision and awarded the horse to another ownership group that had submitted a claim.

On Feb. 17, leading trainer Jerry Hollendorfer and his longtime client George Todaro submitted a $12,500 claim for Powers Lilsis. Even though the date of the race was mistakenly listed as Jan. 17 on the claim slip, the stewards allowed the claim to stand. Typically, a mistake on a claim slip voids a claim.

Stewards at the time explained that an assistant in the paymaster’s office had entered the incorrect date – racing office personnel often assist in the filling out of claim forms – and that California Horse Racing Board rules give them lattitude on whether to invalidate a claim for a mistake on the claim slip. The stewards did levy a $200 fine on the person in the paymaster’s office who made the mistake.

Golden Gate Fields steward Darrel McHargue said Sunday that a formal hearing was held on the disputed claim in response to a protest by a member of the other membership group who had dropped a claim for Powers Lilsis, James C. Green.

“A protest was filed, and we heard it,” McHargue said. “We felt racing was better served by this decision.”

McHargue offered no further explanation.

Their decision, released Sunday, awarded the 7-year-old mare to trainer Andy Mathis for the ownership group of Steve P. and Steve W. Heryford, Joseph Hogan, and Green. Powers Lilsis won the Feb. 17 race and has three wins and a second in her past four starts. She has career earnings of $236,536, with 11 wins, 8 seconds, and 9 thirds in 41 starts.

Mathis said Sunday in an e-mail that he and his clients were happy with the stewards’ decision.

“My clients and I felt that we had presented a strong case at our hearing,” he said. “The decision today has given myself and my clients a renewed confidence in the system. I truly believe that the correct ruling was ultimately made after the hearing. I’m just looking forward to going back to work and training my new horse.”

When the original decision was issued, steward Dennis Nevin said that the stewards were going to look into making the rules governing mistakes on claim slips more specific. On Sunday, McHargue confirmed that, saying, “We are going to pursue that.”

Kaenel makes local debut as owner

Kyle Kaenel, whose career as a jockey was cut too short by injuries, was at Golden Gate Fields as an owner Sunday to watch his 3-year-old Corinthian filly Chapel Chick make her debut. Trained by Eoin Harty, Chapel Chick finished fourth in a maiden special weight sprint under Kaenel’s father-in-law Russell Baze.

Kaenel has done some work for TVG since being forced into retirement at age 21 in 2009. He now works as a bloodstock agent and said he was involved in the sales of last year’s California Oaks winner Lilacs and Lace and the stakes winners Halo Dolly.

Chapel Chick, owned in partnership with Dan Hoefflin, is the first horse owned by Kaenel to run in California, although he said he has run some horses in the East. Kaenel bought her for $130,000 last June at an Ocala Breeders’ sale.

Kaenel said that while he enjoys his role as owner and bloodstock agent, he misses riding.

“I’d give anything just to get on her and work her,” Kaenel said. “Nothing can replace the feeling of riding and to win a race.

“As a jockey, you may be around a horse 15 minutes, but I enjoy finding good horses, and with this filly you get to be around her all the time.”

Kaenel came into the race with high hopes and was initially disappointed by the filly’s finish. But an hour after the race, as Chapel Chick was cooling out, Kaenel was realistic in his assessment of her first start and looking forward to her next start.

“We bought her last June and felt she was one of the nicest 2-year-olds we’d seen,” Kaenel said. “We turned her out and gave her plenty of time.”

Positive Response tires in return

Positive Response, last year’s California Derby winner, ran fifth in his comeback last Thursday in a race won by Grade 2 Swaps Stakes winner Skipshot.

Positive Response pressed a fast pace under Aaron Gryder and was tired following the race but seemed all right, trainer Billy Morey said.

“Aaron said he responded at the three-eighths pole, but he knew he had nothing left at the eighth pole,” Morey said. “He rode him out to the wire, but wasn’t pushing him.

“The next race will be the important one. It will tell us the level he’ll likely be running at the rest of the year.”