09/13/2006 11:00PM

Trainer claims judges cost him a win

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A trainer at the Charles Town Races in West Virginia has filed an appeal with the stewards claiming that the placing judges made an error in calling the order of finish in a race at the track on Sept. 9.

Preston Herbst, the trainer, was scheduled to have his appeal heard on Friday morning. Herbst said Thursday that he asked for the appeal after several trainers and racing officials told him that track officials used an erroneous photo taken prior to the wire to determine the winner of the race.

"I left the track thinking we were second, but when I came back the next day everybody was telling me that they used the wrong photo," Herbst said.

The race in question was the second race on Sept. 9, a $15,000 claiming race with a purse of $28,000. The chart of the race indicates that the 2-1 favorite Seven Talents, trained by Crystal Pickett, beat Herbst's horse, the 24-1 Kris Taylor, by a nose. The comment says that Kris Taylor "missed in a strong effort."

Pickett said Thursday that she had no doubts that her horse had finished first.

"They put the photo up at the track, and my horse was in front at the wire," Pickett said. "I think it's kind of frivolous. People get beat by noses all the time. I got beat by a nose on Friday night, and you didn't see me calling the competency of the stewards and placing judges into question."

Danny Wright, the chief state steward at Charles Town, said that it would be premature to speculate about the order of finish prior to the hearing on Friday. However, Wright

disputed that the appeal was based on two different photos, and instead focused on the placing judges' interpretation of the finish.

"We take this very seriously, and if there's a wrong, we will make it right," Wright said. "It is our duty to make sure that the proper procedures are in place and that those procedures were followed."

Wright acknowledged that if the order of finish is reversed, the purse would be redistributed, but the order would remain in place for the purposes of mutuel prices. An identical policy pertains to disqualifications for drug violations after a race has been run.

With Seven Talents on top, the exacta paid $112.40. The trifecta paid $875.40, and the daily double paid $23.60.