12/03/2004 12:00AM

Thistledown fines stewards

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In an agreement signed late Thursday with the executive committee of the Ohio State Racing Commission, Thistledown stewards Allen Fairbanks, Joel McCullar, and Kim Sawyer have each been fined $2,000 and suspended for three days as the result of a disqualification on Nov. 20.

The racing commission's actions came about after the stewards' disqualification of Slewrenity from first to second in Thistledown's sixth race that day.

Following an objection by Lyndon Hannigan, the rider of the second-place finisher, Lac Grape, the stewards ruled that Slewrenity's rider, Julio Felix, had struck Lac Grape in the face with his whip. Slewrenity was 2-5 in the wagering and, the decision prompted an immediate appeal from his connections.

Earlier this week, the stewards issued a ruling reversing their original decision and reinstating the original order of finish. That ruling stated in part that "After viewing all angles of the films of the race, it was determined the reaction of Lac Grape was not caused by being struck with the whip."

The ruling does not effect the parimutuel payoffs of the race, in which Lac Grape paid $17.40 to win.

Each steward must pay the commission $500 immediately, with the remaining $1,500 to be held in abeyance until Dec. 31, 2005, when it will be dropped if no further incidents have occurred.

The full commission must affirm the penalties. It is next scheduled to meet on Dec 16.

Sam Zonak, executive director of the commission, said the suspensions would be staggered and said he hoped all would be served by the conclusion of Thistledown's meeting on Dec. 31.