06/07/2004 11:00PM

Pedigree mix-up resolved


DETROIT - Say goodbye to Isabella Victoria, a bay or brown mare by Two's a Plenty out of Finest Moment. Say hello to Isabella Victoria, a bay or brown mare by Thirty Two Slew out of Nic's Pic.

The change in her pedigree line is unlikely to affect the talent level of the 8-year-old mare, who toils in the bottom claiming ranks at some of racing's more obscure outposts, such as Great Lakes Downs, Beulah Park, and Tampa Bay Downs. But just how Isabella Victoria's breeding lines were corrected illustrates both the flaws and strengths of the breeding industry and The Jockey Club, the Kentucky-based organization charged with keeping Thoroughbred breeding records straight for more than 100 years.

The problem has its roots at Forest Farms in Florida, where both Isabella Victoria and another filly, Esther's Pic, were foaled in 1996. The farm switched the breeding records of the fillies when they were registered, but the mistake was quickly caught and the correction was forwarded to The Jockey Club. The correction, however, was never made.

"These things do happen," said Bob Curran, vice president for corporate communications of The Jockey Club. "There's human error on occasion, and when you register as many horses as we do, things can happen."

And so, Isabella Victoria began her racing career in 2001, bloodlines askew, by winning her maiden in her second career race, a $5,000 claiming event at Great Lakes Downs. Eight more victories from 38 more tries later, the mistake was noted after her old stablemate at Forest Farms - Esther's Pic - gave birth this year.

"We went to work on the first foal out of Esther's Pic and we got an exclusion," said Rick Bailey, registrar for The Jockey Club.

The exclusion meant that DNA evidence proved beyond doubt that there were errors in the breeding record of Esther's Pic's foal. An investigation led back to the 1996 registration records from Forest Farm and there the 8-year-old mistake was identified.

Bailey said The Jockey Club registers about 37,000 foals a year and typically there will be about 200 exclusions found. The overwhelming majority of exclusions are resolved quickly, he said.

But every so often, a case like Isabella Victoria's sneaks through the cracks. And, to a degree, making a mistake and catching it is a positive thing.

"In some ways it proves the efficacy of how our system works," Curran said.