07/18/2016 5:04PM

Stewards say they began Del Cap inquiry prior to jockey's objection


The Delaware Park board of stewards in its daily log to the Delaware Racing Commission for the races of last Saturday states that the stewards began an inquiry into the start of the Delaware Handicap prior to a jockey’s objection.

The public was not aware the stewards were conducting an inquiry into the start of the Grade 1 race because the inquiry light on the tote board was not illuminated and no announcement was made. When jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. returned aboard second-place finisher Paid Up Subscriber, he spoke with trainer Al Stall Jr. and then lodged an objection against the winner, I'm a Chatterbox, for interference at the start of the 1 1/4-mile race.

According to G. Jack Houghton Jr., the chief state steward at Delaware Park, the inquiry sign did not light due to a problem that sometimes occurs when the placing judges post numbers or the photo-finish sign at the same time the stewards light the inquiry sign. The photo-finish and inquiry signs occupy the same space on the infield tote board.

"The photo finish and inquiry signs use the same line running down to tote, and on occasion the photo-finish sign will override the inquiry sign," Houghton said.

John Wayne, executive director of the Delaware Racing Commission, on Monday provided a 14-minute video that begins with the horses loading into the gate for the Delaware Handicap and continues until after the race is made official. It provides a timeline of what occurred following the race.

At approximately the 2:40 mark of the video, I'm a Chatterbox crosses the finish in front of Paid Up Subscriber to win the race. At the 6:15 point in the video, track announcer John Curran alerts the public that Santana has lodged an objection.

At the 6:50 mark, Curran announces that Penwith has won a photo for third over Mei Ling and goes on to say, "We're not yet official, pending the stewards' inquiry concerning shortly after the break."

At 9:50 into the video, the race is made official.

The stewards' log report reads. "Inquiry at the start. The Stewards did try to post the inquiry sign but the computer system did not take it. The inquiry was announced by the announcer. – No Hold was placed on this race with the outriders, but a claim of foul [was lodged] by Ricardo Santana Jr. the rider of the #1, 'Paid Up Subscriber,' against Florent Geroux, the rider of the #4, 'I’m a Chatterbox,' for coming in at the start forcing the #3 and #2 into the #1. . . . (the incident of the inquiry malfunction was reported by the Stewards to Sportech Inc, the totalizator provider)."

In an email to Wayne, Houghton, explains the malfunction this way: "I have talked to Mr. Mark Wright of Sportech about the issue of our inquires sometimes not being posted on the infield tote board, as it has happened in the past. When the Stewards hit the inquiry and the placing judges post the numbers or photo sign at the same time the inquiry will get kicked out, as the computer only allows one entry into the system at a time. Mr. Wright also explained that no record of the inquiry would be recorded as it was kicked out and was not completed."

According to Houghton, Curran's announcement that an inquiry was in progress came late because he may not have realized there was an inquiry.

"We closed our door to review the video," Houghton said, "and because the inquiry sign was not on the board, he may not have known an inquiry was in progress."

Following Curran's announcement, video of the start is shown a number of times with an "objection" graphic displayed on the screen.

At the start of the race, I'm a Chatterbox (No. 4) bobbles and then ducks inward under jockey Florent Geroux, bumping Milaya (No. 3) into Money'soncharlotte (No. 2), who in turn bumps hard with Paid Up Subscriber (No. 1), the second betting choice in the field at 9-5.

Geroux straightens out I'm a Chatterbox, and she briefly is in last position. She then goes by horses in the long run to the first turn and takes up a stalking position off front-running Mei Ling. I'm a Chatterbox takes the lead on the far turn, draws clear, and then holds off Paid Up Subscriber to win by 2 1/4 lengths.

After being bumped off stride at the start, Paid Up Subscriber had a clean trip and was second best, finishing, 4 1/4 lengths ahead of third-place Penwith. Milaya and Money'soncharlotte were well beaten, finishing fifth and sixth, respectively, in the six-horse field.

The stewards ruled that there would be no change in the order of finish. Their log report to the commission explains their reasoning this way: "After talking to the riders involved and reviewing the films of the race the #4 does break in pushing the #3 and #2 into the #1.  As a result of breaking in and the rider on the #4 having to take up and being behind the #1 at that point, along with the #1 never losing stride, the Stewards could see no reason to take any action and made the race official."