08/12/2004 11:00PM

McPeek fined in horse mix-up


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Ellis Park stewards have fined trainer Ken McPeek $2,500 and assistant trainer Helen Pitts $500 for mistakenly running Boggy Creek in place of Parker Valley in the fifth race at Ellis Park in Henderson, Ky., on Wednesday.

Steward Butch Becraft said their investigation led them to believe the incident was the result of mistaken identity, not intentional wrongdoing. The two horses, maidens owned by John Parker, had been recently transferred to McPeek's stable.

McPeek said his barn received the two bay horses at the same time July 6, without nameplates on their halters and without registration papers.

"Ultimately it's our responsibility, and I accept that," McPeek said.

Boggy Creek, the horse who competed Wednesday with the public under the belief that he was Parker Valley, finished fifth at 5-1 in a 5 1/2-furlong grass race for maiden 2-year-olds. Boggy Creek made his first career start in the race, while Parker Valley had run once previously, finishing ninth in a maiden race at Churchill Downs on June 26.

Becraft said that Ellis Park's horse identifier, Darrell Foster, failed to identify the horse properly when Boggy Creek was inspected before the race. The identifier checks lip tattoos and other markings when horses arrive at the paddock, and the lip tattoo on Boggy Creek would have differed from the one listed on Parker Valley's registration papers.

Ellis stewards became aware of mistake after being contacted after the race by trainer Tom Amoss, who had previously trained the two horses. Becraft said Amoss suspected the horses were confused after watching the race on television.

Long before the error was discovered, the race was declared official for wagering purposes.

Ellis Park's general manager, Paul Kuerzi, said that Foster remained employed by the track but was placed on probation.

Before this incident, Ellis had two wrong horses brought to the paddock for races at the meet, and Foster had caught the errors, Becraft said.