01/28/2003 1:00AM

New York alters steward power


The New York State Racing and Wagering Board approved a proposal on Tuesday that would give stewards more leeway in determining disqualifications of horses who cross in front of other horses.

The board passed the proposal at the request of the three stewards at the New York Racing Association tracks, who were reacting to a controversial disqualification of a horse at Saratoga last year in the Jim Dandy Stakes, according to Stacy Clifford, a spokeswoman for the board.

The proposal would give the stewards the power to use "mitigating factors" in deciding to disqualify a horse who "interferes with, impedes, or intimidates another horse," Clifford said.

"The old rule has always been 'a foul is a foul is a foul,' and the stewards thought they needed some discretion in deciding those cases," Clifford said.

In the Jim Dandy, Quest, ridden by Javier Castellano, was disqualified from second and placed eighth after cutting off Iron Deputy at the three-sixteenths pole in a roughly run stretch drive. Iron Deputy clipped heels with Quest, unseating rider Richard Migliore.

Castellano was given a 10-day suspension for careless riding for coming over on Iron Deputy. His appeal of the suspension was denied by the board on Tuesday at the meeting.

Also at the meeting, the board postponed a review of the training license held by Juan Serey, who left racing in April without serving a 90-day suspension but has said he wants to return to the sport. Serey's attorney, Karen Murphy, requested the postponement so that she can continue to work on a settlement of a lawsuit filed against her client by his brother, Mario.