10/11/2001 12:00AM

Hall of Fame Stakes investigation under way


The $60,000 that Chauffe au Rouge earned for his win in the $100,000 Texas Hall of Fame Stakes last Saturday night at Retama Park near San Antonio is being withheld by the Texas Racing Commission pending the outcome of an investigation into whether the horse actually is an accredited Texas-bred.

The Hall of Fame was restricted to accredited statebreds, and before the race Retama Park stewards received a written complaint contesting the horse's eligibility. The stewards did not have the resources to validate the complaint before the race, and therefore did not scratch Chauffe au Rouge, who was a three-length winner over favored Gold Nugget and his entrymate, Tin Smithen. The stewards did, however, elect to withhold the purse, and forwarded the complaint to the commission.

Although Chauffe au Rouge is a Texas-bred, other requirements must be met for a horse to be recognized as an accredited Texas-bred. Among those requirements are that the foal must be produced by an accredited mare and that proper breed-back procedures be followed.

Gerald Romero, who trains Tin Smithen for Leland Cook, said he filed the complaint because he knew of two other trainers who had tried unsuccessfully to accredit Chauffe au Rougue, a 5-year-old who was claimed in July by trainer Cole Norman on behalf of the partnership of James Donnan and Gerald Mackey.

The Hall of Fame was the horse's first start in a race for statebreds, and before the race his new owners paid a $500 accreditation fee to the Texas Thoroughbred Association to make him eligible to compete. The Texas Thoroughbred Association is also conducting an investigation into the matter.