05/11/2005 12:00AM

Sweet Catomine's van driver fined $500


The van driver who transported Sweet Catomine in and out of Santa Anita in early April under the anonymous description of "pony" has been fined $500 for falsifying documents. The decision in the case of the driver, Dean Kerkhoff, is part of a settlement reached this week between his attorney, Joshua Kaplan, and the California Horse Racing Board.

A hearing in the matter that had been scheduled for Thursday was canceled, according to James Ahern, the state deputy attorney general representing the racing board.

Kerkhoff testified at a hearing before Hollywood Park stewards on April 23 that he transported Sweet Catomine to the Alamo Pintado Equine Clinic in Los Olivos, Calif., on April 4, six days before the Santa Anita Derby, and returned her to Santa Anita the following day. He said he was instructed to do so by Russell Drake, the farm manager for Marty Wygod's River Edge Farm. Wygod owns Sweet Catomine.

When Sweet Catomine was shipped in and out of Santa Anita, transport paperwork referred to her as a pony and not under her name. Kerkhoff testified that when he shipped the filly he was told to "keep it to myself" but was not instructed by Wygod or Drake to falsify the papers.

After Sweet Catomine finished fifth in the Santa Anita Derby, Wygod said she had bled in a workout the week before the race and had been sent to Alamo Pintado for tests. The racing board filed a complaint against Wygod, alleging that he broke the rules of racing by not being more forthcoming about her condition.

The Hollywood Park stewards dismissed the charges at the April 23 hearing after testimony revealed that Wygod was not responsible for falsifying documents.

Sweet Catomine has since been retired.