03/09/2017 11:45AM

No intentional wrongdoing found in case of swapped horse identities


Louisiana racing investigators have concluded that a trainer whose horses raced under swapped identities in multiple starts in the state in December and January did not intend to run the horses under false identities, the top official of the state racing commission said on Thursday.

Charles Gardiner, the executive director of the Louisiana Racing Commission, said the investigation is not yet complete and that the commission intends to issue rulings in the case soon. However, he said a state police report had concluded that trainer Eduardo Ramirez was unaware that the horses were racing under swapped identities.

“We are confident that there was no intent to deceive,” Gardiner said.

The two horses who ran under swapped identities will be disqualified from the races in which they ran under the wrong names, Gardiner said.

Earlier, the commission had suspended the horse identifier at Delta Downs, Melissa Deuitt. The case came to light after a state veterinarian questioned the identity of one of the horses prior to a race on Jan. 26 at Delta Downs. The horse identifier at a track is supposed to match the physical markings of the horse to the horse’s papers and check each horse’s unique tattoo, located under the upper lip.

The two horses who raced under swapped identities had “nearly identical” physical markings, Gardiner said early in the investigation. It is believed that the horses were switched mistakenly after both arrived in Ramirez’s barn in November, according to officials.

Reached on Thursday, Ramirez declined to comment.

“I cannot say anything right now until it is all over,” Ramirez said. “This has been a nightmare.”

The horses involved are named Tough to the Bone and Willieverwin, both bay, 4-year-old geldings. The horse racing as Tough to the Bone won a $5,000 claiming race on Nov. 30, but investigators believe the horse was actually Willieverwin.

Tough to the Bone was transferred to Ramirez’s stable in early November. Willieverwin was claimed by Ramirez on Nov. 23.

The horse racing as Willieverwin subsequently made two starts for Ramirez at Delta Downs, on Dec. 20 and then on Jan. 20. After Tough to the Bone’s Nov. 30 win, the horse racing under that name made two unsuccessful starts and was then scratched from the Jan. 26 race. Neither horse has started since the investigation began.

Gardiner said the commission is still awaiting the final results of an analysis of the wagering patterns on the races, but he said an initial look at the betting patterns did not turn up anything suspicious.

When asked if Ramirez will be sanctioned as a result of the investigation, Gardiner declined to comment directly but said, “It is ultimately the responsibility of the trainer to bring the right horse over.”