07/02/2016 1:58PM

Incorrect order of finish costs NYRA more than $50,000


ELMONT, N.Y. – The posting of the incorrect fourth-place finisher in Friday’s eighth race at Belmont Park cost the New York Racing Association more than $50,000 as it wound up paying out on multiple superfecta combinations, track officials confirmed Saturday.

The error also prompted the New York State Gaming Commission and NYRA to conduct investigations into how the error occurred and what, if any, changes could be made to ensure the error doesn’t happen again.

The error occurred when placing judges Sonny Taylor and Michael Wilson put up No. 3 Paige as the fourth-place finisher in the race when in fact she had finished fifth, a nose behind the actual fourth-place finisher, No. 2 Coming Attraction. The race was won by No. 1 Akatea, and there was a dead heat for second between No. 4 Now Power and No. 5 Jc’s Shooting Star. Thus, the two official superfecta results were 1-4-5-3, which returned $138, and 1-5-4-3, which returned $138.40.

It wasn’t until 15 minutes after the race was declared official that Jockey Club steward Jimmy Edwards noticed that the Trakus order of finish posted on the infield board showed that Coming Attraction had finished fourth. Edwards said he called the placing judges and asked them about the discrepancy. The stewards met with the two placing judges, who “admitted they made a mistake,” Edwards said.

Before the ninth race was run, track announcer Larry Collmus announced that there would be additional payouts on the actual superfecta combinations of 1-5-4-2 and 1-4-5-2. At around 8:30 p.m. Eastern, those payouts were calculated. The 1-5-4-2 superfecta returned $117, and the 1-4-5-2 combination returned $114.

The superfecta pool was $68,248. After the 24 percent takeout, the amount paid out was $51,717.39. That is the figure NYRA matched to make the proper payouts.

“We tried to do the right thing and make everybody whole,” said Martin Panza, NYRA’s senior vice president of racing operations. “It’s human error.”

“The interest of the public was protected,” Edwards said. “Certainly, we had to cover this, and that’s what we did.”

Edwards is the regular steward representing The Jockey Club. The other two stewards in the stand Friday were substitutes. Carmine Donofrio, who retired as the state steward a few years ago, was subbing for current state steward Steve Lewandowski. Hugh Gallagher, NYRA’s safety steward, was subbing for regular steward Braulio Baeza Jr.

According to Edwards, it is the responsibility of the placing judges to determine the correct order of finish in a race and to post the results. The stewards then make the race official and instruct the placing judges to push the button that reflects the official order of finish.

Panza said he would wait until the results of the investigation are known before deciding whether to make any changes to that protocol.

“We’re doing an investigation; we’ll look at it, and we’ll act accordingly,” Panza said.

Until April 2015, there were three placing/patrol judges at NYRA tracks. Since then, there have only been two. Panza said that with the installation of Trakus, a computerized system that posts the running order during the race, two placing/patrol judges seems sufficient.

In September 2009, a similar situation occurred, with the wrong fourth-place finisher being posted in a race at Belmont. That error was noticed within three payments, and NYRA stopped paying out on the incorrect, albeit official, order of finish. The three placing judges at that time – Taylor, Stephen Foster and Ralph Theroux – were all suspended for one week.

– additional reporting by Jim Dunleavy