10/17/2013 4:01PM

Ontario Racing Commission upholds DQ of On Rainbow Bridge, Chernetz's suspension


ETOBICOKE, Ontario — Lexie Lou, who had been promoted to first place following the disqualification of On Rainbow Bridge in Woodbine’s $200,000 Muskoka Stakes on Aug. 28, was confirmed as the winner following a lengthy appeal hearing at the Ontario Racing Commission’s head office on Thursday afternoon.

Trainer Dave Cotey and owner Kurt Cobza had appealed the stewards’ decision, and jockey Skye Chernetz, who had been handed a three-day suspension for her ride aboard On Rainbow Bridge, also launched an appeal, which was denied.

Neil McCoag, one of the three stewards on duty on the evening of the Muskoka, represented the ORC administration while lawyer Frank Roth represented On Rainbow Bridge’s interests and lawyer Dan McMahon represented John Ross, the owner and trainer of Lexie Lou.

Steward Bill McMahon was the first ORC witness and explained the stewards’ interpretation of the stretch run, in which Chernetz had been inside with Gary Boulanger and Lexie Lou lapped on her outside.

“[Chernetz] keeps hitting left-handed, and the horse kept coming out,” said McMahon, as video of the stretch run was presented to the courtroom. “It doesn’t appear that she’s steering the horse.

“Boulanger appeared to try and hold his position, and kept his horse in while the other horse was coming out, hitting his horse right-handed.”

Roth, questioning Bill McMahon, attempted to make an issue of the fact that the stewards had not posted the inquiry sign before Boulanger had claimed foul and also presented his own interpretation of the stretch run, which he supported with the same video evidence.

After countless replays of the stretch run, with testimony from Boulanger, Chernetz, Cotey, and Ross; repetitive questioning of each witness on their views of the stretch run from McCoag, Dan McMahon, and Roth; and final submissions from McCoag, Roth, and Dan McMahon,  the hearing wrapped up after 3 1/2 hours.

“The thing I found somewhat compelling is that Ms. Chernetz didn’t feel there was any contact, but the evidence revealed there was a lot of brushing,” said John Macdonald, the ORC commissioner who presided over the case.

“The question of lost momentum was also considered, but even if it was only slight it was a race that came down to a matter of inches.

“There was no question as to the drifting out. There was enough impeding to keep the second-place horse with going in a total straight line.”

Boulanger had been the most succinct in summarizing Lexie Lou’s case.

“At the end of the day I claimed foul, because I felt that I’d been impeded and it cost me the race,” said Boulanger, in response to McCoag’s questioning.

Chernetz will serve her suspension Friday, Oct. 25, through Sunday, Oct. 27.