07/08/2003 12:00AM

Stewards table Sciacca case


NEW YORK - Stewards at Belmont Park told the New York Racing and Wagering Board on Tuesday that the track would not take action against any of the three horsemen arrested last week for allegedly administering a milkshake to a horse until their cases are resolved by the courts, a Belmont official said.

Last week, Paul Barone, an assistant trainer for Gary Sciacca; Oscar DeLeon, Sciacca's barn foreman; and Dr. James McGuire, a veterinarian, were arrested and charged with tampering with a sports contest by Nassau County police. The three men have an initial court date set for July 17, but have been released on bail and were working at Belmont on Tuesday, according to Sciacca.

John Tierney, Belmont's director of security, said Tuesday morning that track stewards would not take action against the men because of the pending court case and the possibility of criminal penalties. NYRA will consider action after the case is concluded, Tierney said.

Under New York state law, tampering with a sports contest can be either a Class A misdemeanor or a Class E felony. A Class A misdemeanor carries a maximum prison term of one year, and a Class E felony carries a maximum prison term of four years.

A Belmont investigator claimed that he saw the three men administering a milkshake, an illegal concoction of baking soda and sugar, on June 28 to Storm River Kelly, who was scheduled to run that day. Storm River Kelly was scratched out of the race.

Sciacca, who was on vacation at the time of the alleged incident, said on Tuesday that he believed that the men made an "honest mistake." Sciacca said that Barone told Dr. McGuire to administer a product called Lifeguard to Shagwong, a horse in a stall adjacent to Storm River Kelly who had run on June 27. The veterinarian began to administer the product to Shagwong before Barone stopped him, Sciacca said.

Lifeguard is a product that is also administered via a nasal gastric tube that is snaked down a horse's nose. Sciacca said that many of the horses in his barn are given a dose of the product a day after racing.

"I'm standing behind Paul on this one," Sciacca said. "He's heads-up on everything, and he's a great guy, a family man. I have to be behind him because I've known him so long."