The Racing Stewards at Belterra Park disqualified first-time starter EASILY INFLUENCED from his August 17th victory at the Cincinnati, Ohio racetrack.
The horse is owned by Marc Ricker and trained by Sherman Mitchell. The reason for the disqualification is allegedly due to "invalid documentation determining eligibility for entry."
EASILY INFLUENCED prepared for his August 17th race at Ashwood Training Center in Paris, Kentucky—a facility owned and operated by Ricker. It turns out that EASILY INFLUENCED was not allowed to run on the 17th, but did so anyway and ended up winning the race.
He was then disqualified and declared unplaced, and the $9,300 purse for the $7,500 maiden claiming race was ordered to be redistributed.
Why not eligible?
On August 27th, Bud Bundy, a starter at Ashwood and employee of Ricker, testified in a stewards hearing that he did not issue the approved pre-race starting gate card dated August 4th, which was used by trainer Sherman Mitchell for EASILY INFLUENCED's eligibility to compete in the race.
Lacking a valid pre-race starting gate card rendered the horse non-eligible in the first place. Read the full story by Paulick Report here.
"In mitigation," the stewards ruling states, "trainer Sherman Mitchell obtained the gate card from the owner of record for Easily Influenced. Further, this owner Marc Ricker, dba/Ashwood Training Center submitted invalid/fraudulent documentation determining eligibility for entry."
But this ruling doesn't cut ice with Marc Ricker, who claims there were no wrong-doings, and is appealing the Ohio disqualification.
"It wasn't a fraudulent card," Ricker said. "It's since been cleared up, as far as I'm concerned. The starter works for me. I own the training center. I've got signed affidavits from six people. The starter said (Easily Influenced) was OK, but he was out of gate cards to fill out. I printed more for him, but he wasn't going to be back in time."
On the same day, August 17th, there was another blunder over the required gate cards. First-timer DELTA NINE, also trained by Mitchell, was scratched at Indiana Grand in Shelbyville, Indiana over the same issue: a gate card not being issued by Ashwood's starter Bundy.
Ricker has since then cut ties with Bundy, and named Ashwood's new starter to be Barry Wilson.