It turns out Magna Light won Saturday’s Grade II Sanford at Saratoga Race Course after all — for now, anyway.
The New York State Gaming Commission today declared Magna Light and Uncle Vinny co-winners of the race while it rules on a protest filed by Magna Light owner Michael Dubb.
Magna Light finished three-quarters of a length ahead of Uncle Vinny, but the stewards determined Magna Light cost Percolator, who finished third, a chance for second. Uncle Vinny was declared the winner; Magna Light was disqualified as winner and dropped to third.
Don Lucarelli of Duanesburg, co-managing partner of Starlight Racing, owners of Uncle Vinny, said today this type of protest is unique.
“I’ve never, never seen it before, disputing what is the opinion of the governing body that is supposed to look at these things,” he said. “If [Dubb] feels he needs to do it, go ahead and do it.
“My personal opinion is he’s taken it too far. I can [still] respect the decision because he has the right.”
Dubb could not immediately be reached.
Magna Light was the best horse as he led the field toward the wire in Saturday’s feature, but his sudden zigzagging cost him the race by disqualification, giving it to Starlight’s Uncle Vinny.
Dubb was quoted in media reports after the race that the disqualification was the result in part of bias against his horse’s trainer, Rudy Rodriguez, perhaps because he is Mexican. Dubb is a member of the New York Racing Association Board of Directors.
“I think the words were in poor judgment,” Lucarelli said, “but everybody has their moments.”
Now the Gaming Commission is putting the final results of the race on hold.
“Horses Uncle Vinny and Magna Light are both declared winners until this case is adjudicated by the New York State Gaming Commission,” the agency said in a release.
Magna Light, ridden by Jose Ortiz, led from gate to wire, with a sharp move laterally to his right inside the eighth pole. He was so well clear of the field that everyone behind him maintained a straight line, including Uncle Vinny and jockey John Velazquez on the outside. Magna Light couldn’t keep it straight, though, and ducked back toward the rail, at which point Percolator was in the vicinity.
There was a steward’s inquiry as well as an objection lodged by Kendrick Carmouche on Percolator. It took a few minutes before the ruling dropped Magna Light to third.
“I thought they were going to look at it, but not take it down,” Rodriguez said after the race.
Lucarelli, while defending Dubb’s right to file a protest, said it does not bode well for horse racing, especially since Dubb is a NYRA board member.
“I don’t think he should be doing it — for the sport,” he said today.