09/19/2013 5:05PM

Woodbine: Ultimate Destiny has second place in Seagram Cup restored after appeal


ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Owner and trainer Alec Fehr, whose Ultimate Destiny had been declared a non-starter when the stewards ruled that his gate opened prematurely prior to the start of the Aug. 3 Seagram Cup at Woodbine, won his appeal of that decision at an Ontario Racing Commission hearing Thursday.

Commission chair Rod Seiling, after hearing the arguments of Fehr’s lawyer, Dan McMahon, and testimony from steward Bill McMahon and Woodbine starter Ian Ross, took little time in allowing the appeal and restoring Ultimate Destiny as the second-place finisher in the Grade 3 Seagram Cup.

Fehr, as both the owner and trainer of Ultimate Destiny, now stands to collect $36,000.

Steward Gunner Lindberg, representing the administration, questioned Bill McMahon about the circumstances that day.

“The video did show that the No. 5 gate had opened early, creating an unfair start,” Bill McMahon said. “He left with the other horses, but the advantage was there, whether he used it or not. We looked at this numerous times. We looked at all the circumstances. The horse did run a powerful race. However, we had to do what we had to do.”

Dan McMahon cited the Equibase chart of the race, which showed Ultimate Destiny breaking fifth in the field of eight.

Ross, under questioning from Dan McMahon, agreed that Ultimate Destiny did not obtain any advantage when one side of his gate had not fully opened.

“There was a gate malfunction, and when the stewards, in their wisdom, declare a gate malfunction – whether there is an advantage or not – they declare a refund,” Lindberg said in his closing argument.

Dan McMahon also cited the precedent of Fifty Proof, whose stall had opened prematurely when he won July 22, 2010. There was no immediate inquiry on that occasion, when Bill McMahon also was one of the presiding stewards, and an appeal by John LeBlanc, the trainer of second-place finisher Peter’s Charisma, was denied at the commission level.

Video and photographic evidence, as well as the Equibase chart, confirmed that Fifty Proof had broken through the gate, but the start was deemed to be fair when reviewed the following day by the stewards.