05/30/2004 11:00PM

Mixup yields 2 sets of betting numbers

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - A racing office mistake at Woodbine resulted in different sets of betting numbers in the track program and Daily Racing Form for Saturday's 10th race, a maiden claiming event with 15 horses.

The betting numbers in Daily Racing Form correctly listed a coupling for Nitro Attorney and Magical Rush, both trained by John MacKenzie. The two horses were assigned posts 12 and 13 with betting numbers of 1 and 1A, respectively. Betting numbers for the other horses began with No. 2 for the rail horse, Native Belief.

But the coupling was omitted when the racing office sent information for the 10th race to Woodbine's program department, according to Steve Lym, Woodbine's racing secretary. As a result, the Woodbine program gave the betting numbers for the horses in post-position order, beginning with Native Belief as No. 1 and giving separate betting numbers for Nitro Attorney (12) and Magical Rush (13).

Woodbine's stewards were alerted to the mistake by the racing office at about 12:30 p.m. Saturday after wagering on the card had already began. With the track facing the prospect of having to declare the race a non-betting race, Nitro Attorney was scratched, leaving only Magical Rush in the field from the coupled entry. The track then obtained permission from the Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency, Canada's regulatory authority, to run the race under the Woodbine program numbers. The track did not issue a public statement.

Stuart Taylor, a representative of the CPMA, said there would have been no wagering on the race if the entry had stayed intact because maiden claiming races in Canada require a coupling if two horses have the same trainer.

Betting on the 10th race was suspended at 12:53 p.m. At that point, at least $3,700 had been bet on the race.

In the initial confusion, Ontario Racing Commission steward Nelson Ham asked track announcer Dan Loiselle to announce that the Daily Racing Form betting numbers were incorrect. Then, Ham had Loiselle reverse that announcement.

Loiselle made yet another announcement, saying that the program numbers would be used for the 10th race, and wagering on the race was reopened at 2:33 p.m.

In the meantime, MacKenzie had contacted the stewards to scratch Nitro Attorney, whom he also owns. Magical Rush is owned by James Sabiston.

According to Ham, MacKenzie said that he was approached by John Whitson, vice president, Thoroughbred racing for Woodbine, about the scratch and that MacKenzie didn't have a problem with the scratch.