06/23/2010 12:00AM

Uptowncharlybrown's owners appeal Belmont DQ


ELMONT, N.Y. - The owners of Uptowncharlybrown have filed an appeal with the New York State Racing and Wagering Board over the disqualification of their horse from fifth place in the June 5 Belmont Stakes for failing to carry the proper weight through the duration of the race.

Fantasy Lane Stables, a racing partnership based in New Jersey that counts 59 members as owners of Uptowncharlybrown, is seeking the restitution of the $30,000 purse money for finishing fifth or, at the very least, has asked the New York Racing Association to waive the $20,000 in entry fees it cost to run in the race.

A racing board spokesman said no hearing has been scheduled yet, but "we expect it will be scheduled soon."

The New York Racing Association, in a letter from one of its attorneys to Karen Murphy, the attorney, representing Fantasy Lane, denied the request to waive the entry fee, which has already been debited from Fantasy Lane's account. Further, the letter states that "NYRA denies any fault, negligence, or liability in this matter whatsoever."

Bob Hutt, the president of Fantasy Lane, maintains that NYRA is "100 percent" at fault because it was a NYRA-employed valet who helped make up the weighted saddle before the race and who helped trainer Kiaran McLaughlin put it on the horse.

Uptowncharlybrown finished fifth, beaten three lengths in the Belmont. However, five furlongs into the 1 1/2-mile race, an eight-pound weighted pad slipped off the withers of Uptowncharlybrown, and he didn't carry the full 126 pounds for the entire race.

Racing board rules state, in part, that "if a jockey shall ... be more than one pound short of his weight or if he be guilty of any fraudulent practice with respect to weight or weighing ... his horse may be disqualified."

Murphy maintains that since there was no fraudulent misconduct in this situation, the stewards could have decided not to disqualify him.

"If ever there was a case where discretion should be used, it should have been used in this case," Murphy said.

Rajiv Maragh, the jockey of Uptowncharlybrown, said he felt his saddle slip entering the first turn when he raced in second position, just behind First Dude and outside of Interactif. Maragh rode the horse high up on the colt's neck through the remainder of the race.

According to state rules, owners are responsible for their horses carrying proper weight in races. However, McLaughlin, who is currently on vacation, took responsibility for the incident the following day in an interview with Daily Racing Form.

"It's the ultimate responsibility of the trainer," McLaughlin said. "When the valet came out for the race, everything was in a nice, neat package - the chammy, the weight, pad, the saddle towel, and the saddle. I should have made sure we put everything on one piece at a time."