Maryland's chief racing steward said yesterday he feels, "There are no shenanigans going on," but he has ordered an investigation into reports that the horse Large As Life ran two races at Pimlico last summer under the name of a stablemate, Dare To Command.
"I'm not that familiar with all the facts," Fred Colwill said, "but my personal feeling is that we'll find that the proper horse ran here.
"If you're going to run a ringer, you don't do it the way this is supposed to have been done."
Colwill said the Maryland office of the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau will conduct the investigation.
Bill Ramsey, a TRPB investigator, said, "We'll take it back to day one to find out what happened. We'll find out if a switch was made and when it was made to determine if there was any wrongdoing."
Unlike Colwill, Ramsey offered no speculation on the case.
"I couldn't make a comment until we gather all the facts," he said.
The suggestion that another horse ran under Dare To Command's name arose two weeks ago. A Florida breeder, Jim Caple, learned from The Jockey Club that a stallion working on his farm was Dare To Command. Caple said he'd been told the horse was Large As Life by the owner of both horses, H. W. (Sandy) Sanders of Wilmington, Del.
The Jockey Club, however, said Large As Life was on a farm in Manning, Ark. There, breeder Don McDowell said he bought "Dare To Command" after a June 24 race. He and Caple now have switched horses and say they believe the horses were accidentally mixed up somewhere.
The Jockey Club is racing's central data bureau on breeding. Registrar Alfred Garcia has said he believes Large As Life ran those two summer races, not Dare To Command, who, according to Caple, never left the Florida farm after arriving in February.
Garcia's belief has been disputed by the Pimlico trac identifier, Jimmy Rowan, who said he is certain Dare To Command ran those races. He said he based his certainty on inspection of the horse's markings and lip tatoo. The chief steward, Colwill, yesterday supported Rowan, calling him "a very, very thorough person."