12/01/2008 1:00AM

Tale of Ekati wins Cigar on DQ

Email
Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Harlem Rocker (right) crossed the finish line a nose in front of Tale of Ekati in the Cigar Mile, but the stewards disqualified him for interference.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Six weeks of aggravation for trainer Barclay Tagg turned around big time Saturday at Aqueduct when his Tale of Ekati was put up to first place from second by the stewards in the $300,000 Cigar Mile.

The Grade 1 race was marred by the breakdown of Wanderin Boy, the 7-year-old Nick Zito trainee who had to be euthanized after shattering the sesamoids in his left foreleg. Earlier on the card, Springside suffered a fractured pastern in her right foreleg after winning the Grade 2 Demoiselle by 9 1/2 lengths. She was to be sent to New Bolton on Sunday, according to New York Racing Association officials.

The Cigar Mile ended a 0-for-41 skid in New York for Tagg, whose last victory came at Belmont on Oct. 18. Saturday's victory did not come without controversy as the stewards deliberated for five minutes before making the race official.

Harlem Rocker, under Eibar Coa, went three wide turning for home and took the lead in upper stretch from pacesetting Monterey Jazz. Meanwhile, Tale of Ekati rallied along the rail under Edgar Prado.

Outside the eighth pole, Harlem Rocker drifted in from the three-path toward the rail, forcing Prado take a hold of Tale of Ekati and guide him to the outside. Harlem Rocker had a two-length lead at the eighth pole, but Tale of Ekati re-rallied and came within a nose of Harlem Rocker at the finish. The stewards immediately posted the inquiry sign, and Prado ordered a hold put on the race.

According to New York State Racing and Wagernig Board steward Carmine Donofrio, the disqualification was made because the incident "affected the outcome of the race."

"There's no question we came over; the horse didn't, to me, appear to check," said Harlem Rocker's trainer, Todd Pletcher, who did not rule out an appeal of the decision. Tale of Ekati "altered course, he got to us, he had every opportunity to go by. In my opinion he was never going by."

Said Prado: "That little check cost me a little momentum at the end. He only beat him by a nose. I think the stewards made the right decision."

Tale of Ekati, who won the Grade 1 Wood Memorial and Grade 2 Jerome earlier in the year, returned $19.80 to win. The final time of the race was 1:35.01.

Tagg said the way the last month had gone for him - he was 0 for 30 at Aqueduct after ending the Belmont meet 0 for 11 - he had his doubts the call would go his way.

"I could see them doing it - he did take the lane away from us," Tagg said. "Sometimes it happens for me, sometimes it happens for them."

Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated the affiliation of steward Carmine Donofrio. He represents the New York State Racing and Wagering Board, not the New York Racing Association.