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Owner of King and Crusader files protest against Laurel Park

The owner of King and Crusader, the Rick Dutrow-trained horse that was disqualified last week after winning the $75,000 Maryland Juvenile, has appealed and filed a protest with the Maryland Racing Commission.

"All they wanted to do at the stewards' hearing was blame Dutrow and the [veterinarians]," James Riccio said in a phone interview Tuesday. "I've filed the appeal and a complaint because the horse should have been scrutinized before the race. They didn't vet him. I'm supposed to get protection, too. I'm not looking to send my horse all the way to Laurel and run him for no reason."

The stewards last Wednesday upheld a protest made by the connections of the second-, third- and fourth-place finishers, who asked King and Crusader be disqualified because he was treated within an hour of the Dec. 17 race at Laurel Park.

The stewards found there was no argument about when the horse was treated and said if they had known, he would have been disqualified before the race. But there was a breakdown in operating procedure and the stewards were not informed of the violation of the rule that prohibits a horse from being treated within two hours of a race. The stewards are conducting an investigation of why the breakdown occurred.

Riccio said it appears "everyone but the stewards knew the horse had been treated before the race."

He cited two rules in Maryland's racing rule book as the backbone of his complaint: "A Commission veterinarian shall examine every horse appearing in the day's entries in the stable area before the race in which it is to run and make a report on its racing condition to the stewards." And "In general, he shall familiarize himself with the racing condition of all entrants and if, in his opinion, any entrant is not in condition to race, he shall notify the stewards."

The stewards are the only ones who can disqualify a horse before the race.

sandra.mckee@baltsun.com

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