07/15/2008 11:00PM

Ohio checking winner's status

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The purse from the June 28 Cleveland Gold Cup at Thistledown has not been paid out while the Ohio Racing Commission conducts an investigation into whether the 13-length winner, Marble Cliff, was eligible for the race, which is restricted to registered Ohio foals.

Brent Reitz, general manager of Thistledown in North Randall, Ohio, said Wednesday that he was instructed in a letter from the commission to withhold the entire purse, pending resolution of the investigation. The race was worth $100,000, with $60,000 due to the winner.

John Izzo, deputy director of the commission, said Wednesday that he could not provide details of the investigation while confirming its existence and that "complaints were received about whether there may have been winners of Ohio races not foaled in the state."

A source with knowledge of the situation speaking on the condition of anonymity said that the investigation is focused primarily on Marble Cliff, a 3-year-old gelding by Jump Start.

Marble Cliff is owned by Foxwood Stable, whose principals are Charlie Ruma, the owner of Beulah Park in Columbus, and Joe Sugar. Marble Cliff was bred by Sugar and David Shashura. Marble Cliff has won 4 of 5 career starts, all in Ohio-bred company, for earnings of $109,940.

The source said the investigation also concerns a 3-year-old filly, Houston Heist, who has won twice in Ohio-bred company. She was bred by Shashura and is owned by Shazam Stables, which also is owned by Ruma and Sugar. Houston Heist is entered in Saturday's $100,000 Queen City Oaks for 3-year-old fillies at River Downs.- Marty McGee

A commission meeting was scheduled for Thursday at Thistledown.