10/31/2005 12:00AM

Wrong horse ordered scratched


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - An injured horse was misidentified by a state veterinarian in the 10th race at Churchill Downs on Sunday, resulting in another horse in the race being incorrectly scratched and having to run for purse money only.

After a horse flipped in the gate just prior to the start, Dr. Nate Koval, the state veterinarian overseeing the gate, contacted the stewards and notified them that Ambling, the number four horse, had been injured and should be scratched, chief steward John Veitch said.

The stewards scratched Ambling, only to be contacted shortly thereafter by Koval, who informed them that Last Tango, the number two horse that had loaded into the gate alongside Ambling- The number three horse had been scratched earlier in the day- was the one that needed to be scratched. Koval said Monday he made a mistake.

The stewards scratched Last Tango and decided to allow Ambling to compete for purse money only. A horse cannot be put back in a race for wagering purposes once it has been scratched, Veitch said.

The race was conducted following a short delay, with favored Ebony Rose ($3.60) winning, followed by Ambling. Affected exotic wagers and place and show tickets were paid off to horses finishing behind Ambling.

Further complicating the results was the disqualification of Theoreticai from third place to fourth for interference. For wagering purposes, Theoreticai was moved from second to third place. The stewards moved Miss Peachtree up from third to second for betting purposes after determining that Theoreticai drifted into the path of Miss Peachtree in the stretch.

The disqualification, along with Ambling running for purse money only, created a superfecta result of 6-7-5-9, although the numbers of the first four horses crossing the finish were 6-4-5-7. All wagers involving Ambling or Last Tango were refunded.

Stewards acknowledged that the decision to allow Ambling to run for purse money only may have been confusing to bettors, but was made in fairness to allow the horse to earn its rightful share of the purse for its owner, trainer, and jockey.

Veitch said stewards would speak with Koval to discuss how the error happened. Koval said Monday that he was alongside the number 10 horse at the time of the incident and had a poor vantage point for viewing which horse had flipped. He said he mistakenly concluded Ambling was the injured horse when she was backed out of the gate first following the trouble.