ELMONT, N.Y. -- Hot Wells, a horse owned by Baltimore resident Mike Warren Lasky, was ordered scratched from the Belmont Stakes yesterday because Lasky is not licensed to race a horse in New York.
In 1982, Lasky was denied an owner's license by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board because he worked as a "professional tout" who sold horse racing selections to gamblers.
Although Lasky was awarded a license by the Maryland Racing Commission in 1988 and has raced horses there and in other states, he never reapplied for a license in New York.
When the New York wagering board discovered that on Friday and decided there was not enough time to investigate Lasky's current business practices, the board ordered the stewards, who enforce the rules of racing, to scratch Hot Wells.
That highly unusual action involving one of the nation's most prestigious races took place about 10 a.m. -- 7 1/2 hours before the Belmont Stakes. Hot Wells, who finished fourth three weeks ago in the Preakness, would have been a long shot to win the race.
Lasky is founder of the Psychic Friends Network, whose parent company Inphomation Communications Inc. has filed for protection from its creditors in bankruptcy court. He is part-owner of Harbor Inn Pier 5 in Baltimore and a former professional tout of horse races and other sports.
He made headlines two years ago when he bought the baseball Eddie Murray hit for his 500th home run from the fan who retrieved it in the stands. A longtime horse racing enthusiast, Lasky has owned horses for years and races under the name of So What's Nu Stable.
Michael J. Hoblock Jr., chairman of the New York board, said he called Lasky late Friday afternoon.
"But he never answered the question of when he planned on coming in to get a license," Hoblock said.
Reached at home yesterday in Baltimore, Lasky said the board's decision was a "mean-spirited act" for which he likely will seek damages in court. He said his racing manager, Jake Haddad, had called the New York licensing board last week and was told Lasky could obtain his license before the race yesterday in "no more than a half-hour."
But Hoblock said that Lasky's application would not have been a routine case dispatched so quickly -- and that Lasky should have known that and initiated the process earlier.
Coronado's Quest, the sometimes-unruly colt owned by Stuart S. Janney III of Butler, behaved perfectly yesterday before and during the Grade II $136,750 Riva Ridge Stakes at Belmont Park. The result was a 3 1/2 -length victory in his comeback race after a two-month layoff.
The 2-5 favorite, Coronado's Quest broke behind Dontletthebigonego, followed him down the backstretch and then exploded by him around the turn. He ran the seven furlongs in 1 minute 22 2/5 seconds and paid $2.80. The 23-1 long shot Mellow Roll was second.
"I think he's doing everything just right," Janney said of his colt. "I was very pleased with how things went today."
In earlier races, Coronado's Quest had become unruly on the way to the track, freezing once his jockey climbed aboard and then refusing to let him back up once he'd jumped off. He missed the Preakness, in which he probably would have been favored, because of a bruised foot.
"He just had to get over some bumps in the road," said the colt's trainer, Shug McGaughey. "I think we're back on the right track."
Next for Coronado's Quest is the Dwyer Stakes July 12 at Belmont Park, the Haskell Invitational Aug. 9 at Monmouth Park and the Travers Aug. 29 at Saratoga. The ultimate goal is the Breeders' Cup Classic Nov. 7 at Churchill Downs.
H. Graham Motion, the Maryland trainer, was delighted with Chilito, who led the 1 1/2 -mile Belmont deep into the far turn and then held on for sixth place at 85-1.
"I thought he ran a huge race," Motion said. "I couldn't ask for anything more from Robbie [Davis, the jockey] or the horse.
"I think Chilito is an underrated horse."
Said Davis: "I thought we had it when we started opening up around the far turn. I was starting to smell victory. Then I saw Real Quiet draw alongside us and pull away, and I thought we were going to have a Triple Crown winner.
"Then I saw Victory Gallop pass us with his ears pricked. When I saw that, I said to myself, 'Oh, man!' That was such a powerful move."
Thomas Jo, who finished third at 28-1, rallied from seventh place four-wide around the far turn. He won his last two races in Maryland -- the Sir Barton and Federico Tesio Stakes.
"He ran a huge race," said his jockey, Chris McCarron. "I wasn't too surprised he ran this well because I came here thinking I was riding a horse with a chance to win."
Last and least
Of last-place Basic Trainee, humiliated in all three Triple Crown races, his jockey, Joe Bravo, said: "I just feel bad for this animal. He's a classy horse who could be a stakes winner. He proved he doesn't want to be in a Triple Crown race."
The attendance of 80,162 was the second-largest at Belmont Park. The largest was the 82,694 who watched Canonero II's Belmont Stakes in 1971.
On the undercard
Chief Bearhart, last year's male turf champion, unleashed a powerful last-to-first rally to win the Grade I $250,000 Manhattan Handicap, 1 1/4 miles on the grass.
Richter Scale captured the Grade II $138,600 True North Handicap at six furlongs, and Witchful Thinking won the Grade III $157,325 Just A Game Breeders' Cup Handicap at one mile on the turf.
Pub Date: 6/07/98