01/16/2002 12:00AM

Track fined $10,000 for filly's death


ALBANY, Calif. - Golden Gate Fields has been fined $10,000 by the California Horse Racing Board for a series of mishaps surrounding the fatal breakdown of Silicon Sally, a nicely bred 4-year-old maiden filly, on Jan. 11, 2000.

The fine was the maximum allowed by the board, according to Roy C. Wood Jr., the board's executive director.

F. Jack Liebau, president of Golden Gate Fields, was traveling from Santa Anita to Sacramento on Wednesday and was not immediately available for comment. Magna Entertainment, which owns Golden Gate Fields, still faces a lawsuit filed by the filly's owners, Bent Creek Racing. The Bent Creek partners are Phil Lebhertz, Mikel Dodd, Richard Meister, and Jeff Bonde, who was also the filly's trainer.

Silicon Sally, a daughter of Carson City out of the Nijinsky II mare Dancing Slippers, was euthanized after suffering a knee injury during a race. Her situation was complicated when she failed to get prompt attention from the track veterinarian, who was delayed by the track's sloppy condition, or service from the track's horse ambulance, which was inoperative.

Wood said that in addition to the fine, Golden Gate Fields was told to change some of its procedures so that a similar incident would not occur. He said that even before the hearing process began, Golden Gate Fields "had taken some steps to mitigate the situation."

Richard Lewis, the Golden Gate Fields director of racing operations, reviewed the breakdown the day after the incident and immediately put new ambulance procedures into place. The procedures ensure that the horse ambulance is operational both during training hours and during racing itself. In addition, a four-wheel drive vehicle has been made available so that the track veterinarian can reach an injured horse promptly, even on days when the course is muddy or sloppy. New procedures have also been established for the jockey ambulance.

Silicon Sally was making her fourth career start and leading the race when she suffered the knee injury and was pulled up by jockey Frank Alvarado on the far turn. The track veterinarian was unable to reach her until getting a ride on the tractor preparing the track for the next race, and no other vehicle was able to take him because of the sloppy conditions.

The horse ambulance could not be used because the tractor it was attached to did not start. Finally, a second tractor pulled the first tractor and ambulance to the injured filly, but the hydraulic ramp on the ambulance was inoperable because the tractor to which it was attached could not be turned on. The hitch connecting the ambulance to the tractor could not be loosened to allow the ambulance to be attached to the working tractor.

More than 30 minutes passed, and the next race had to be delayed, while Silicon Sally remained on the track. Eventually, Bonde, who had trudged through the mud, walked the filly to a position out of sight of the fans where she was euthanized.

* A field of six older fillies and mares meets in Friday's feature, a six-furlong allowance race that will be run as the fourth race. Jerry Hollendorfer has two entered, Da Vinna, winner of a Dec. 31 maiden race, and Endearment, who was disqualified from an allowance win that same day. Leading rider Russell Baze, who rode both that day, will ride Da Vinna, a 4-year-old filly. Rounding out the field are Fancee Bargain, Rosanda, Double Shot Latte, and Midnight Special.

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