02/01/2006 12:00AM

Horse mix-up discovered at Aqueduct


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - The Aqueduct stewards voided a claim from Saturday's second race after it was learned that the horse was not who it was purported to be.

Trainer John Campo Jr. claimed a horse he thought was a 5-year-old mare named Free Dip, who finished fifth of six in a $20,000 claiming race Saturday. Follow-up work by NYRA's horse identification office revealed the identity of the mare to be Miss Stella, also 5. It was further determined that Miss Stella made all 27 of her career starts under the name Free Dip.

"From the start of her career, Miss Stella has been allowed to race with the wrong name and pedigree, and even her lip tattoo was incorrectly consistent with the foal papers," said Jim Zito, NYRA's chief horse identifier. "It was a close call as to whether or not this horse should have run at all. But it was dedicated follow-up work and this department's system of checks and balances that has corrected this ongoing mistake and prevented its perpetuation.''

According to Zito, NYRA officials noticed a "slight discrepancy" in one of the mare's cowlicks, a piece of hair that is one of the most important identifying features of a horse. A Thoroughbred has at least two neck cowlicks and one forehead cowlick.

"This incident happened on the weekend, and normally our identifier would have called The Jockey Club as a backup,'' Zito said. "The Jockey Club office was closed, however, so our identifier had the option of letting the horse run or scratching it."

Miss Stella is a chestnut daughter of Yarrow Brae out of Faster and Farther, by Thirty Eight Paces. Free Dip is a chestnut daughter of Fly So Free out of Little Dipper, by Thirty Eight Paces. Free Dip has never run. Both were bred in Maryland by Alan H. Anthony Jr.

Patricia Farro ran the horse on Saturday, two starts after claiming her from Kenneth Cox at Laurel.