The track identifier at Pimlico yesterday insisted that the real Dare To Command ran twice at that track last summer -- even though a breeder in Florida says the horse never left his farm from February on.
"That's just what that guy says," said Jimmy Rowan, the identifier. "Dare To Command could've been breeding in Florida up to May 25. I just go by what my recrds show, and they show he ran here May 27 and June 24. I distinctly remember him. A little horse with little round ankles. A chestnut."
But The Jockey Club has another idea. Alfred Garcia, registrar for racing's central data bureau on breeding, yesterday said he believed a second chestnut horse, Large As Life, ran those two races under Dare To Command's name. The possibility of a mixup was reported dirst in Sunday's editions of The Washington Post.
"We have reason to believe it (the mixup) was done in honest error," Garcia said, "But we will send a memo to the TRPB (Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau, an investigative body) and to the stewards in Maryland to let them know what we found out."
In this bizarre case -- Which Horse Is Which? -- Pimlico's bettors and the owners of 28 broodmares have a stake in getting the mysteries solved.
Did the bettors really have Dare To Command, a stakes winner, carrying their investment in those summer races?
Or was it, as Garcia thinks, the horse Large As Life, an unspectacular, though steady, competitor in allowance and claiming races?
As for the 28 broodmares, they were impregnated in Florida by a horse that breeder Jim Caple advertised as Large As Life.
Only in the last two weeks when he submitted papers to The Jockey Club, Caple said, did he find out that his farm's hard-working stud was in fact Dare To Command.
While the bettors have no recourse in the case of a misidentified horse, there is precedent for legal action by broodmare owners who hire the services of one stud and are given those of another.
Such legal action has been taken most often after a breeder finds out a horse is not interested in Breeding. Breeders in these predicaments have brought in stand-in stallions without informing the broodmares' owners of the change. In the pedigreeconscious world of thoroughbred racing, where bloodlines can mean big money, such replacements are not taken kindly.
Large As Life is a son of the strong sire Graustark, although Dare To Command would seem to be the better stud off his record on the track.
"I gotta find out where I stand," said H. W. (Sandy) Sanders of Wilmington, Del., the woner of both Dare To Command and Large as Life. He has called the case "a mixup" and said he is "sick to death over it." Beyond that, he would not comment yesterday, saying he was waiting for more information.
The Jockey Club registrar, Carcia, said he believes the horses were mixed up when they were sent to a farm together to rest the last half of 1977.
"It is my opinion that the horses were mixed up when they arrived or departed at the farm," Garcia said.
The horses are chestnut in color, relatively similar in size (Dare To Command the larger), markings (one has a white wtrip on the nose) and age (6, 7). If a groom fetched the wrong one out of a pasture and put the wrong name-halter on it, it would not be the first mistake of that kind.
But no such easy explanation exists if, as Garcia charges, Large As Life ran under Dare To Command's name. The lip tattoo is considered a guarantee against mistakes.
"It should have been caught," Garcia said. "That's something the stewards will have to look into."
Fred Colwill, Marylandhs chief steward, was ill and unavailable for comment yesterday. His assistants would not comment.