06/12/2011 6:18PM

Hollywood Park: Board investigates $57 winner who may have been ineligible for race


INGLEWOOD, Calif.- The California Horse Racing Board has launched an investigation into how Doc Can Dance, the longshot winner of the seventh race last Friday, was allowed to start despite not being eligible under the race’s starter allowance conditions.

Hearings in the case have not been scheduled, but are expected to include testimony from the gelding’s trainer, Paul Aguirre, as well as Hollywood Park racing officials.

The conditions of Friday’s race over 1 1/16 miles on turf were limited to horses which have won n their maidens for a claiming price of $40,000 or less, or Cal-bred or sired-horses which have won their maidens in a statebred race for $50,000 or less and which have never won two races.

Doc Can Dance entered Friday’s race with 1 win in 9 career starts. He won an optional claimer for maidens at Turf Paradise on Jan. 28, but was not listed as eligible to be claimed for $30,000 in that race. The absence of an optional claiming designation essentially made the race a maiden special weight race for Doc Can Dance, according to Hollywood Park steward Scott Chaney. Maiden special weight race winners are not eligible for starter allowance races.

At Turf Paradise, maiden special weight races are commonly written with a parenthetical clause that allows horses to be entered for an optional claiming price of $30,000.

Doc Can Dance subsequently made three starts, finishing sixth and seventh at Turf Paradise, and one start at Hollywood Park, finishing third in a $22,500 claimer on May 13.

Eligibility is customarily reviewed when entries are taken and later by members of racing department staff after post positions have been drawn. Entries for the Friday race were taken on June 5.

“We should have caught that,” Hollywood Park director of racing Martin Panza said of the Doc Can Dance situation.

Doc Can Dance, a 3-year-old owned by a partnership that includes Peter Accardy, Gloria Ryan, and John Xitco and trained by Paul Aguirre, won a starter allowance over 1 1/16 miles on turf by a half-length and returned $57 as the longest shot in the field.

Aguirre said on Sunday that he thought the horse was eligible to be claimed in the maiden race on Jan. 28, but did not elaborate.

Over the weekend, Chaney suggested strongly that Doc Can Dance would be disqualified from the purse, which had an overall value of $35,800 and was worth $21,000 to the winner.

“We have the power to DQ a horse if we find the evidence suggesting that we should,” Chaney said. “There could be culpability in respect to the trainer as well.”

The investigation began Saturday morning and was expected to continue this week, with California Horse Racing Board officials contacting their counterparts in Arizona for documents such as Doc Can Dance’s entry card for the Jan. 28 race, and a copy of program page of the race in question from Turf Paradise.

“We’ve asked the investigators to gather information,” Chaney said. “We’re trying to expedite the matter.

“The evidence we’ve seen so far is that the horse is not eligible,” Chaney said. “We won’t make any decision until we’ve seen all the evidence.”