09/02/2002 12:00AM

'Scratched' horse wins at Ellis


An inadvertent scratch led to considerable confusion Saturday at Ellis Park in Henderson, Ky., when the "scratched" horse won, racing for purse money only.

A misunderstanding between a racing official and the mutuel department led to the scratch of Backwater Nikki about 30 minutes before the fifth race. "Once a horse is scratched, it's irrevocable," said Butch Becraft, an Ellis steward. "The mistake stemmed from a jockey change on the subject horse. Somehow she became a scratch. Obviously it was a very unfortunate situation."

When the stewards were told of the mistake, they allowed Backwater Nikki to remain in the race, albeit to compete only for purse money. Backwater Nikki proceeded to rally from far back to post a narrow victory over Echo Poise, a 21-1 shot who was declared the winner for wagering purposes.

Becraft said the track received numerous complaints from bettors who used Backwater Nikki in the pick three and pick six, then got the favorite, who ran out of the money.