05/29/2001 11:00PM

Hawthorne steward loses job

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CHICAGO - Chief Illinois state steward Rene Riera Jr. has resigned his post after the Illinois Racing Board found him guilty of exercising "poor judgment in a number of areas," according to an IRB statement. Riera's resignation is effective immediately.

Riera's resignation comes at the end of an IRB investigation centering on a mare named Tender Hearted, who raced at Hawthorne on May 20, finishing a badly beaten eighth in a $4,000 claiming race where she was the heavy favorite. She has since landed on the official veterinarian's list, and her trainer, Ron Andersen, was fined $500 after laboratory tests revealed an overage of anti-inflammatory drugs in the mare's system after her race.

Controversy surrounded Tender Hearted's participation in the race. First a dispute arose between clockers at Hawthorne and Andersen over whether Tender Hearted had posted a required workout May 12. On May 19, she worked a very slow three furlongs in just more than 46 seconds in order to qualify for her start the next day. That workout ended up being publicly recorded as a 40.99-second work.

The IRB statement noted that "Riera was aware of an apparent inaccuracy in the anticipated published workout time for Tender Hearted prior to the May 20 race, but failed to take corrective action."

Dot Sibille, a clocker at Hawthorne and Arlington, had been relieved of her duties at Arlington in the wake of the Tender Hearted situation. But a spokesman for the IRB said that following the investigation, Sibille had been reinstated as an Arlington clocker.