04/13/2004 11:00PM

Trainer says ID error led to scratch


An apparent case of mistaken identity caused the morning-line favorite to be scratched from last Saturday night's Potomac Handicap at Charles Town. In a last-minute compromise, however, Nick's Delight was permitted to run in the seven-furlong stakes for West Virginia-breds, but no one was allowed to bet on him.

Nick's Delight, a 5-year-old gelding owned by Kevin Patterson and trained by Amy Albright, finished sixth of eight while racing for purse money only in the first stakes race of the season at the track.

Patterson, who has about 16 horses in training at a farm he owns in Chambersburg, Pa., said that Nick's Delight was scratched about 45 minutes before the Potomac was run as the fourth race on the program.

Patterson said a veterinarian, using an overnight sheet for reference, ordered the No. 8 horse, listed as Adams Tribe, to be scratched after an inspection in the receiving barn. Nick's Delight was the ninth horse on the overnight sheet, but No. 8 in the program because of a coupled entry. According to Patterson, when the call was placed to the stewards to make the scratch, they checked their program and scratched No. 8 - Nick's Delight.

The scratch was announced to the fans at the track, and Nick's Delight was removed from the parimutuel pool, both ontrack and nationally at simulcast outlets.

A Charles Town racing official on Wednesday said no one at the track would comment on the incident. A phone message left at a track steward's office Wednesday afternoon was not returned.

Patterson said no one contacted him or Albright to verify the scratch before it was announced, and was told the mistake was not reversible.

"We took the bandages off the horse and let him graze on some hay," Patterson said. "With three minutes to post, I was contacted and told our horse could run for purse money only. Hindsight is 20-20, and I wish I would have kept him in the barn."

Nick's Delight, the 2-1 favorite in the track's program, flashed his customary early speed but faded badly and was beaten 13 1/4 lengths. Earth Mover, bet down from 4-1 on the morning line to 6-5, easily won the race.

Patterson had claimed Nick's Delight for $7,500 in March 2003, lost him via a claim for the same amount in December, and reacquired him for $15,000 in January. Nick's Delight had won his last two starts at Charles Town, including an allowance with a purse of $42,960 - higher than the value of the $41,250 Potomac - in March.