11/09/2014 10:46AM

Proud Azteca disqualified from allowance win after being deemed ineligible

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Prompted by an unusual circumstance, Proud Azteca has been disqualified from a recent victory at Churchill Downs because the colt was ineligible for the race.

Proud Azteca, trained by Mike Maker, won a turf allowance Oct. 30 at Churchill. However, according to a stewards’ ruling, it was discovered several hours later that the Indiana-bred colt did not meet the criteria as outlined by the race conditions. A disqualification subsequently was declared, with Hesinfront awarded first amid a new order of finish and the $44,604 purse redistributed accordingly.

The official race chart says the one-mile turf race was restricted to “3-year-olds which have never won two races other than maiden, claiming, starter, or statebred allowance or which have never won three races.” Maker evidently believed that an Aug. 6 victory by Proud Azteca in the A.J. Foyt Stakes at Indiana did not count against the colt in terms of eligibility because the Foyt was restricted to Indiana-breds.

However, the race conditions did not allow statebred stakes (as opposed to statebred allowances) to be exempted – thus, the disqualification.
According to association steward Rick Leigh, Kentucky racing rules say ultimate responsibility for determining eligibility lies with the trainer. Leigh said in the vast majority of such cases, racing office staff typically notices an ineligible horse prior to a race and refuses an entry or orders a scratch, but obviously, this was “an unfortunate exception.”

Leigh said no additional punishment will be given to Maker, who declined comment on the incident.

Proud Azteca, by Kitten’s Joy, is owned by Brenda Tabraue and Jorge Herrera and was ridden in the subject race by Rafael Hernandez. His winner’s share was to be about $24,000.

Pari-mutuel wagering on the race is not affected. The stewards’ ruling (No. 14-0081) was posted Saturday afternoon on the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission website (khrc.gov).

One side effect of the disqualification was that it allowed Robby Albarado, the jockey of Hesinfront, to achieve 1,000 victories at Churchill, making him just the third jockey to hit that milestone at this historic track. Pat Day is the all-time Churchill leader with 2,482 local victories, and Calvin Borel (1,170) is second.

Albarado, who has more than 4,600 wins, was blanked from six mounts Saturday at Churchill. His 1,000th Churchill win will be publicly acknowledged the next time he rides a winner.