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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


By David Grening, Daily Racing Form — OZONE PARK, N.Y. — Jeff Drown, the owner of Zandon, second by a nose to Mo Donegal in last Saturday’s Grade 2, $250,000 Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct, has filed a protest with the New York State Gaming Commission of the stewards’ decision not to disqualify Mo Donegal for alleged interference in deep stretch of the race.

Mo Donegal (left) and Zandon (right) bump coming down the stretch of the Remsen

Adam Coglianese/NYRA Mo Donegal (left) narrowly defeats Zandon in the Remsen Stakes.

Drown on Thursday confirmed he filed the appeal with the New York State Gaming Commission believing his horse was cost the win by a bumping incident near the wire as well as the exaggerated motion in which Irad Ortiz Jr., the rider of Mo Donegal, used his arms and elbows to shake his reins at Mo Donegal. Ortiz’s left elbow appeared to graze the side of Zandon’s head.

“Certainly, the outcome was affected by how the race was ridden,” Drown said. “The case against the other rider is fairly clear to people who watched the video.”

Chad Brown, the trainer of Zandon, said immediately after the race he felt Mo Donegal should have been disqualified.

John Velazquez, the jockey of Zandon, claimed foul against Ortiz. The stewards reviewed the video and spoke to both jockeys, but it was their opinion the incident did not affect the outcome of the race.

Two of the three regular stewards — Gaming Commission steward Braulio Baeza Jr. and Jockey Club steward Jen Durenberger — were not in the stand on Saturday. Stephen Pagano, a steward at Monmouth Park, filled in for Durenberger. Carmine Donofrio, a longtime Commission steward at NYRA tracks who retired nearly eight years ago from that position, filled in for Baeza. Donofrio has filled in frequently since he retired.

Ortiz was suspended 30 days by the New York stewards for careless riding for an incident that occurred on Friday at Aqueduct. However, state steward Baeza told Daily Racing Form Sunday that part of that penalty had to do with Ortiz’s riding in the Remsen. The official ruling of Ortiz’s suspension does not reference the Remsen.

Baeza said Thursday that the Commission has the discretion whether or not to hear Drown’s protest. This is not an appeal of a disqualification that was made in a race.

Drown retained attorney Drew Mollica to handle the protest.

“We’re hopeful the Gaming Commission will see there was a rules violation and there should be a review,” Mollica said. “[Zandon] was beaten an inch. No way in the world the foul that occurred didn’t cost the horse an inch.”

The Remsen offers qualifying points to the Kentucky Derby. Mo Donegal earned 10 points for the win while Zandon earned four for finishing second.

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