The "quick official" was brought into question at Laurel Race Course yesterday when trainer Jim Casey said he was denied an attempt to delay a race from becoming official.
Casey said that shortly after the field crossed the finish line in the third race, he contacted the stewards via in-house telephone to "place a hold" on the result and seek a review, claiming that first-place For True interfered with his horse, second-place Ibex. Casey said he was on the phone with one steward when the race became official.
According to chief steward Clinton Pitts Jr., the stewards had reviewed the early-stretch congestion involving For True and Ibex, as well as an incident on the backstretch, and determined no infraction had taken place; moreover, no jockey lodged a foul. Pitts said the stewards had ruled the race official before Casey called, and that some time elapsed before Casey saw the tote board display the result as final.
"We wouldn't have made it official if he had called earlier," steward Bill Passmore said.
Casey said he reached a house phone "less than a minute" after the race. "You couldn't have gotten to a phone any quicker," he said.
After watching replays of the race, Casey said For True should not have been disqualified and he will not appeal.
Pitts said it was the first time to his knowledge that a horseman has cited a lack of time in placing a hold on a race.
Instituted in January 1989, the quick official reduces about three minutes of "dead time" between races by making races official before jockeys weigh in with their equipment, which in turn allows horseplayers to cash tickets and to handicap upcoming races sooner. Any rider wishing to claim foul so notifies an outrider, who then contacts the stewards by walkie-talkie. In addition, trainers and owners can delay a result and request a stewards' review by using one of several house telephones.
"Some people like it, other people don't," Passmore said. "It's there -- you have to live with it."
The stewards also moved yesterday to refer jockey Jimmy Wallace to the Maryland Racing Commission after he failed to ride out Roger K. in the 10th race Thursday, possibly costing a victory. After taking a big lead in midstretch, Roger K. (8-1) was passed near the wire by Infirmative Action (6-1). The stewards recommended that Wallace be fined $1,000. No Picnic for Filly
Picnic Island took the lead from Travelling Treat entering the stretch and barely withstood a late burst from favored Give Her A Hand to win the $43,925 Marshua Stakes.
Give Her A Hand, who went in as the only stakes winner among the eight 3-year-old fillies, made a mild advance through the stretch but appeared no threat until 100 yards remained. She picked up speed then but finished a nose shy of the Charlie Peoples-trained Picnic Island, who went off at 18-1 despite having program odds of 6-1.
Red Tape, the outsider at 35-1, finished two lengths behind in third after rallying from last.
It was the second straight stakes win at Laurel for jockey Joe Rocco, whose six-furlong ride lasted 1:13 2/5. A Maryland-bred by Cure the Blues, Picnic Island ran with her head high and made $26,355 for owner-breeder Bayard Sharp.