Stewards backed in Lady Winner case

January 30, 1991|By Marty McGee | Marty McGee,Sun Staff Correspondent

LAUREL -- The results of a race run 15 months ago were overturned for a third time Monday when a Baltimore County Circuit Court judge ruled in favor of the Maryland stewards in the controversial Lady Winner case.

Judge John G. Turnbull overturned the Maryland Racing Commission, which had voted to reverse the stewards, who had disqualified Lady Winner from first place in the Martha Washington Handicap, run Oct. 28, 1989 at Laurel Race Course.

In his ruling, the judge said that to uphold the commission might render stewards' decisions "nothing more than a mere whistle stop prior to an appeal to the commission and would cause a never-ending flow of appeals to the commission."

The ruling represents a significant victory for the stewards, who have been overturned on a number of judgment calls in recent years.

Lady Winner, ridden by Kent Desormeaux, was a 2-5 favorite in the $75,000 Martha Washington. She was disqualified for bumping a rival, and first place was awarded to Yestday's Kisses, who had finished second. But the commission, in a contentious hearing March 21, overruled the stewards by a 3-2 margin.

The victorious court appeal then was made by connections for Yestday's Kisses (Akindale Farm) and Whip Cream (Last Chance Stable). Whip Cream would be awarded second-place money under the new ruling.

Fares Farm, owner of Lady Winner, has 30 days after the ruling to appeal to the Court of Special Appeals. Ira Cooke, counsel for the Kentucky farm, said yesterday he will appeal.

Racing rules pertinent to the case have been slightly revised since the commission overturned the stewards; whether a precedent will be set by the ruling remains to be seen. Said chief steward Clinton P. Pitts Jr.: "The bottom line is whether the commission will use its authority in the appeals process and continue to overrule us, or whether they'll follow the guidelines set forth by this ruling."

If Monday's verdict stands, or is upheld after further appeal, it would lessen, by one, Desormeaux's 1989 record-setting total of 598 winning rides.

During appeals, purse money is held in escrow until final disposition.

* Leon Raney suffered a fractured right tibia after his mount, Easter Rosette, clipped heels and fell in the third race yesterday. Raney also was complaining of hearing loss after being taken to Greater Laurel-Beltsville Hospital.

Raney, a 29-year-old apprentice, recently returned from a layoff of several months. He suffered a broken right kneecap and femur in a spill at Laurel on June 30.

* Bryan Antley was in stable condition yesterday afternoon at the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center. Antley, 21, was transported by helicopter yesterday morning after being thrown from a horse at Pimlico Race Course, where he works as an exercise rider.

Antley is a younger brother of national riding star Chris Antley. A hospital spokesperson refused comment on the nature of his injuries.

Compounding Antley's problems, the stewards suspended him indefinitely yesterday for drug violations. Antley was suspended on two earlier occasions for drugs; reinstatement as a licensee after a third violation is subject to commission approval.

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