02/07/2005 1:00AM

Wild race ends in no-contest


SAN MATEO, Calif. - Bay Meadows starter Chuck Burkes called Sunday a "black cat" day after a series of bizarre incidents during the day's first two races.

In race 1, jockey Francisco Duran was unseated when his mount, Way Brite, bolted on the first turn. Quintara bolted on the second turn while on the lead and then almost won, as the winner, Apollo Treasure, struggled to the wire. Favored Devil's Sis, who was virtually eased, nearly collapsed at the finish line.

Race 2 was even stranger.

All was going well until the sixteenth pole. Miss Matty Mac was comfortably in front en route to a wire-to-wire victory in the $16,000 maiden claimer for 3-year-old Cal-bred fillies at one mile. Bocce Girl was an easy second as the field of six was parading home.

Suddenly, Fields of Flowers, who was third inside the sixteenth pole, about eight lengths behind the leader, swerved in toward the rail. Jockey Octavio Vergara - substituting for Duran, who had suffered a neck injury from his fall in the first - kept Fields of Flowers from going through the rail, but she veered out and rammed into Swiss Ladybug, unseating both Vergara and Swiss Ladybug's rider, Dennis Carr.

Behind the incident, Joe Castro, aboard Beaded Butterfly, and Jason Lumpkins, aboard Toast to Victory, stopped riding to avoid the fallen jockeys. Beaded Butterfly, who had been a head in front of Toast to Victory before the incident, crossed the line in third, and Toast to Victory finished fourth.

Meanwhile, Fields of Flowers continued to veer out and crashed through a temporary sliding rail that separates the walking ring and paddock from the track. She raced down the tunnel into the indoor paddock and ran into the paddock judge's stand. Swiss Ladybug followed Fields of Flowers through the tunnel but was able to avoid the stand. Saddling for the third race had to be delayed until Fields of Flowers could be brought through the tunnel to the horse ambulance, which was too big to get through the tunnel.

After viewing the stretch replays, stewards declared the race a no-contest in accordance with California Horse Racing Board rule 1544, which states, "In the event of . . . interference during the running of a race which affects the majority of horses in such race, the stewards may declare the race as no contest."

All bets on the second race were refunded. The pick three on races 1 through 3 became a pick two and paid $35.80 for bettors who had the winners of races 1 and 3. There was also a consolation pick three on races 2 through 4, which paid $96.80, and a consolation pick four on races 1 through 4, which paid $1,070.80. A consolation double with the winner of the first race paid $18.40.

The decision Sunday prompted disappointment from bettors who picked the winner of the second race and lost out on cashing daily-double wagers, as well as the connections of Miss Matty Mac and Bocce Girl, who finished first and second and were not affected by what happened behind them. Some fans felt that since Beaded Butterfly was in front of Toast to Victory before the incident and their final placing wasn't altered, the race should stand.

The connections of the horses in the race lost an opportunity for purse money as well as the race-day expenses of preparing their horses to run.

Steward Dennis Nevin said that perhaps the California Horse Racing Board should consider implementing a rule that in a similar situation would allow the stewards to declare some of the horses in a race non-starters rather than have to declare the race a no-contest.

Queenmab'sdaughter tops allowance

A pair of first-level allowance races highlight Wednesday's Bay Meadows card.

Queenmab'sdaughter is the one to beat as she takes on four rivals in a six-furlong sprint under David Lopez. She missed by a nose at the level in December and has been third and second since against slightly better.

Lopez has been working Queenmab'sdaughter since winning his first ride aboard her.

"It's so important to get on horses," he said. "You ride a lot of horses and don't know them, but when you get to work them, you can really tell how they feel. She's real nice. The last two she's been in kind of tough races, but she's worked well. If she runs as well as she did last time, she'll be tough to beat."

Eclipse Winner, who graduated over the turf here and just scored an eight-length victory in a starter allowance race in the mud, looms the one to beat in the one-mile turf race. She is coupled with New Water in the race, which has five betting interests.

* Trainer Art Sherman saddled three horses on opening day last Wednesday. Each won as the favorite, and each was claimed. Captain Skyhawk won a $6,250 sprint and was claimed by Dennis Ward, as was Bossa Rio from a $32,000 maiden turf route. Steve Miyadi claimed Fuse Quick from a $12,500 turf route.

* Locally based Sharp Writer and Stellar Magic will run in Saturday's $75,000 San Mateo Stakes here at one mile for 3-year-olds.