Maryland's thoroughbred racing commission will attempt Monday to resolve horse racing's question of the year: was the filly Genuine Risk fouled in the May 17 running of the Preakness Stakes?
Meeting at 10 a.m. at Baltimore's Pimlico Race Course, the commission will hear an appeal from Genuine Risk's owners, Bertram and Diana Firestone, protesting the track steward's decision that disallowed their jockey's foul claim.
Jacinto Vasquez, Genuine Rick's jockey, lodged the foul claim against Angel Cordero Jr., the jockey on Preakness winner Codex, immediately after the race. Genuine Risk was the runner-up to Codex.
Vasquez told the racing stewards that Cordero's horse had deliberately bumped his filly and that, additionally, Cordero had struck Genuine Risk on the face with his crop.
After 10 minutes of deliberation, the three track stewards voted unanimously to disallow the claim. The Firestones served notice on the commission 48 hours later that they were appealing that decision.
The Stewards' call kicked off a robust controversy, and last week, nearly two weeks after the race, letters from accross the nation were still pouring in at the track and at commission offices at a rate of between 60 and 100 a day. The vast majority disputed the steward's decision.
For their appeal, the Firestones have retained Henry R. Lord, a lawyer with the Baltimore law firm of Piper and Marbury.
It is considered unlikely that the commission will overturn the stewards' decision, but there is precedent for such action. Last Aug. 30, a horse named A Star Bloomed won by four lengths i a race at Timonium but was disqualified by the stewards for illegally blocking another horse. The owners of A Star Bloomed appealed to the commission and the stewards' decision was overturned.
Commission Chairman Robert W. Banning has ordered the $180,600 Preakness purse held until all claims involving the race have been settled.
Commission member Robert W. Furtick has disqualified himself from considering the appeal after reportedly making statements to news media that appeared to be in support of Genuine Risk's claim.