02/17/2007 12:00AM

Scratch snafu may lead to rule change


ARCADIA, Calif. - The California Horse Racing Board's Pari-Mutuel committee is scheduled to meet Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. at Santa Anita to discuss, among other items, giving stewards the leeway to allow a horse to run for purse money only. Though it is an option for stewards in some other states, it is not part of the rules here.

Consideration for a rule change came to the fore again on Friday at Santa Anita, when a series of errors led to one horse being scratched, another being scratched temporarily, and left bettors both on and off track in a state of confusion.

Up in the Gods, the No. 5 horse in the eighth race, was announced early in the day and in subsequent updates as a first-time gelding, based on information supplied on Thursday by trainer Jim Cassidy, according to Santa Anita's stewards. But when Up in the Gods arrived in the receiving barn 45 minutes before Friday's race, horse identifier Jennifer Paige found that Up in the Gods, in fact, was not a gelding. After track commentator Trevor Denman announced that fact, the stewards a few minutes later decided to scratch Up in the Gods.

"We thought the bettors would be confused by all the changes," Scott Chaney, one of Santa Anita's stewards, said Saturday morning. "People had already bet the pick six and other bets believing he was a first-time gelding. We thought scratching him was the right thing to do."

Things then went from bad to worse. The mutuel department was informed of the scratch, as was the tote department. But instead of removing Up in the Gods from the eighth-race pools, the No. 5 horse in the seventh race, Quick as Ray, was mistakenly taken off the tote board and out of the mutuel pools.

The horses started loading in the gate for the seventh race, and when the stewards realized that the tote board erroneously listed Quick as Ray as a scratch, they ordered all the horses backed out of the gate.

In cases like this in New York, the stewards would have had the option of letting Quick as Ray run for purse money only, thus protecting bettors who thought the horse was scratched, but not penalizing the owner, trainer, and jockey of Quick as Ray for a mistake that was out of their control.

Santa Anita's stewards, however, did not have that option.

"We were faced with two very bad solutions," Chaney said.

One was to scratch Quick as Ray. The other was to allow the horse to run, and have her reinstated in the pools. The stewards decided on the latter course of action. Quick as Ray was out of the pools for 2 minutes 13 seconds, Chaney said. He said it was another 3 minutes and 38 seconds from the time she was put back in the pools until the horses left the gate. Quick as Ray subsequently finished second.

Albert Christiansen, who along with Chaney and Tom Ward is a Santa Anita steward, said it was the stewards' understanding the mutuel department was going to check computer time stamps on wagers that were made or attempted to be made on Quick as Ray while she was out of the betting pools, and try and make good to aggrieved bettors. An example Christiansen cited was a bettor who might have wheeled the seventh race winner in an exacta with all for second. Though the intention of a bet like that would have been to use all runners, including Quick as Ray, Quick as Ray would have been excluded from the ticket if the bet was made during the time Quick as Ray was out of the pools.

"Mutuels is going to take a hit on this," Christiansen said.

Itsallgreektome euthanized at age 20

Itsallgreektome, a seven-time stakes winner in 1990 and 1991, was euthanized on Thursday because of the infirmities of old age, Cardiff Stud Farm announced on Friday. Itsallgreektome was 20 and had been retired at Cardiff in recent years.

Owned by Jhayare Stables and trained for most of his career by Wally Dollase, Itsallgreektome won 8 of 29 starts and $1,994,618. He was at his best at the end of 1990, finishing second to Royal Academy in the Breeders' Cup Mile at Belmont Park and winning two Grade 1 races at Hollywood Park - the Hollywood Derby and the Hollywood Turf Cup.

The win in the Hollywood Turf Cup was his first start at 1 1/2 miles, and there were questions going in about whether Itsallgreektome could be effective at the distance. His victory is well remembered for track announcer Michael Wrona's commentary in deep stretch.

After Itsallgreektome rallied from 10th in a field of 14 to take the lead in early stretch, Wrona said, "Can he stay the mile and a half? Yes. He stays like a mother-in-law."

A gray gelding, Itsallgreektome won two stakes at Keeneland as a 4-year-old in 1991 and finished second in the Breeders' Cup Turf at Churchill Downs that year.

- additional reporting by Steve Andersen