The $57,800 Marylander Handicap, Bowie's closing-day feature, was hardly over when the excitement started.
Lynn Davis, 11-to-10 favorite, had finished first under jockey Jean Cruguet, a length ahead of Pruneplum. Courtly Haste was third, four lengths behind the runner-up.
But there was a brushing or light bumping incident at the top of the stretch as the first three horses approached the three-sixteenths pole.Lynn Davis appeared to come in and brush Pruneplum, heading that 3-year-old gelding into Courtly Haste, the pacesetter, along the rail.
Bowie's stewarts flashed the inquiry sign on the infield tote board. Chris McCarron, rider of Courtly Haste, claimed foul against Pruneplum and Lynn Davis. Few of the 11,412 bettors tore up their tickets on the numbers 6, 4 or 2 horses.
"I knew Pruneplum came over and hit us, but I did't know if Jean (Cruguet) had been laying on Tony (Graell, the jockey on Pruneplum) or not." McCarron said, "I claimed foul against both of them, just to be sure."
Lynn Davis did appear to trigger the trouble at the head of the lane. Chart footnotes allege Pruneplum "was shoved toward the rail" by Lynn Davis.
But the stewards did not take Cruguet and Lynn Davis' number down. The favourite paid $4.20 straight after completing the mile and an eighth in 1.50 1/5.
What the stewards did was to disqualify Pruneplum and Graell from second place in favour of Courtly Haste and McCarron.
"Pruneplum has a problem of lugging in, and he got tired today." Graell said shortly after dismounting. Graell did not claim foul, against Cruguet and the winner. Neither did Pruneplum's trainer, Steve DiMauro, who sent out Wajima to capture the first running of the Marylander in 1975.
Ten minutes later, after the jockey and the trainer had seem film replays of the race, both wished they would have lodged an official protest.
"The 6 (Lynn Davis) pushed me over. He pushed me in," Graell declared shortly before he had finished dressing.
"So why didn't you claim foul?" a reporter asked.
The jockey did not answer.
DiMauro was waiting for Graell at the entrance to the jockey's room.
"They sholdn't have taken us down," the trainer moaned. "We weren't responsible for what happened. We were the horse in the middle. Lynn Davis is known in New York for lugging in, anyway."
Cruguet acknowledged that Lynn Davis had been difficult to handle in the early stretch.
"He lugged in and tried to savage bite Pruneplum, as we went by, but I pulled him off," said French-born rider who has become nationally famous this season as the jockey for Seattle Slew. Still, Cruguet was convinced his mount had done nothing serious enough to merit being disqualified.
Lynn Davis undoubtedly was the best horse and deserved the victory, worth $37,570, but he precipitated what had to be a borderline call by the stewards along the way.
Cruguet saved ground with the Verbatim colt until the stretch turn, where he went outside to make his winning rally. Trainer John Bradley said Dwyer and Saranac runner-up will be returned to Belmont Park and pointed, probably, for the Travers Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 20. The Monmouth invitational on Aug. 6 is a possibility, however.
The combined Bowie-Pimlico-Laruel meeting at Bowie averaged 7,329 and $851,277 for the 47 days. That handle was 11.7 per cent higher than the summer meeting at Bowie two years ago.