03/31/2015 5:15PM

Two horses misidentified in Turf Paradise race

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The Arizona Department of Racing is investigating how two runners from the barn of trainer Dan McFarlane raced under the other’s name in the seventh race at Turf Paradise last Saturday, with one of them winning.

McFarlane had two horses entered in the starter stakes at 1 1/2 miles on turf, Cavour, entered as No. 5, and Sir Searsucker, entered as No. 7. Cavour, at 29-1, posted the upset victory, but upon entering the test barn, his lip tattoo identified him instead as Sir Searsucker. The horse who was believed to be Sir Searsucker but was instead Cavour finished last in the field of nine at 7-1.

Greg Stiles, public information officer for the Arizona Department of Racing, said the stewards are conducting the investigation and released the following statement:

“The stewards’ investigation is ongoing, and they are interviewing all parties that had contact with the horse from the backside to the paddock. All purses have been withheld pending the final investigation. An Arizona Department of Racing employee notified the stewards immediately following the race when the winning horse was presented in the test barn and the tattoo didn’t match. The horses in question, Cavour and Sir Searsucker, are both bay geldings.

“It appears that the start of the issue began as the grooms came to the paddock area wearing the wrong numbered bibs. The stewards are looking into any unusual wagering patterns on the race, but preliminary indications are there were none. That part of the investigation is also ongoing. Once the investigation is completed, ADOR will issue its findings and will take appropriate action based on the facts of the investigation.”

According to The Paulick Report, which first reported the incident, McFarlane said he did not wager on the race and knew after seeing the winner’s-circle photo that there had been a mistake. According to The Paulick Report, McFarlane said, “It’s my fault because of the trainer-responsibility rule, but the identifier is supposed to catch that.”

As noted in the ADOR statement, the grooms reportedly brought the horses to the paddock with the incorrect numbered vests. But horse identifier Lymon Perren, who is employed by the ADOR, didn’t catch the error, and then jockeys Skyler Whiteshield (aboard Cavour in his last two starts) and Chris Russell (aboard Sir Searsucker in his previous six starts) didn’t notice that they were on the wrong horses.

Stiles said he expected to have additional information in the next week or so.