10/10/2006 11:00PM

Indiana Derby result challenged


The connections of Star Dabbler have filed a protest with the Indiana Horse Racing Commission, claiming their horse won last Saturday night's $500,000 Indiana Derby at Hoosier Park outright and did not dead-heat with Cielo Gold in the Grade 2 race.

Barry Schwartz, the owner of Star Dabbler, and Mike Hushion, the colt's trainer, filed the protest on Monday. Hushion, who watched the race from an offtrack betting facility on Long Island, believes the photo finish of the race clearly shows that Star Dabbler had his nose in front at the wire.

"We think the photo was misinterpreted," Hushion said. "We would like it reviewed. We expect it to be overturned. A mistake was made; I'm sure it'll be rectified. We'll let the picture speak for itself."

Star Dabbler set all the pace under Richard Migliore and was passed by Cielo Gold, under Brian Hernandez Jr., in midstretch. Star Dabbler, who raced along the rail, came back on Cielo Gold in the last jump.

"We hit the wire and I thought we had gotten back up," Migliore said. "Internally, my reaction was 'Yes, we nailed it.' But I'm superstitious. [Hernandez] asked me, 'Did you nail me, did you get it?' I said, 'I don't know, real close.' "

Migliore said he never saw a photo of the finish until he got back to New York. However, as he was leaving Hoosier Park, Migliore said a fan told him, "You won it, you got robbed. Everybody's talking about it in the grandstand."

Migliore said that he requested a photo of the race but that the Hoosier Park stewards denied it. The stewards also refused a Daily Racing Form request for the photo, saying it was not their policy to release photo finish images. A video replay of the race and a photo finish picture are available online at .

Deena Pitman, the assistant executive director of the racing commission, said the commission has not decided how to proceed in the matter. Pitman said that Joe Gorajec, the commission's executive director, is on vacation until Oct. 24. Members of the commission's legal counsel are also on vacation.

A reversal could be worth about $100,000 more in earnings for Star Dabbler.