11/20/2015 11:09AM

Ruling in Mahoning Valley mix-up expected by Monday


The individuals involved in an incident at Mahoning Valley Race Course near Youngstown, Ohio, in which a gelding was mistakenly identified as a mare and allowed to run in the wrong race have waived their rights to a hearing, and penalties are expected to be announced early next week, the executive director of the state’s racing commission said on Friday.

A hearing into the incident was initially scheduled for Friday, but the four individuals who had been told to appear at the hearing all waived their rights and have agreed to allow Mahoning’s stewards to issue rulings, according to Ohio State Racing Commission executive director William Crawford. The four individuals are Thomas Clark, the horse identifier at Mahoning, who has been suspended by the owner of the track; trainer Shane Speiss; assistant trainer Francisco Avina; and groom Michael Micallef.

Crawford said stewards are expected to issue a ruling by Monday. If there are penalties involved, the individuals would have 48 hours to appeal the ruling, Crawford said, with any appeals heard by an administrative law judge.

The incident occurred Nov. 4, when Leathers Slappin, a 4-year-old gelding, raced as Ruby Queen, a 3-year-old filly, in a $5,000 maiden-claiming sprint. Leathers Slappin won and paid $222.40 on a $2 win ticket. The horse was not properly identified until he was led to the testing barn to submit a urine sample.

Officials who have examined betting patterns in the race both domestically and offshore have said they have not found anything suspicious to indicate that people involved were attempting to profit in the betting pools from the mix-up.

While Leathers Slappin is not exactly an accomplished racehorse, he is certainly a far better runner than Ruby Queen, who came into the Nov. 4 race with no wins in 13 starts and a top Beyer Speed Figure of 9 in her five starts this year.