Gaming Commission Will Not Allow Appeals in Great White Way Stakes

Neither the connections of Brick Ambush (pictured) nor The Big Torpedo will be allowed to appeal the Stewards' decision Coglianese


Whether or not the stewards made the right or wrong calls when disqualifying Brick Ambush (Laoban) and not disqualifying Antonio of Venice (Laoban) in the $500,000 Great White Way Division of the New York Stallion Series run Saturday at Aqueduct is something the New York Gaming Commission is not going to lose any sleep over.

Two owners reached out to the Gaming Commission to file an appeal of the stewards' rulings on the race. The first came from Dean Reeves, whose Brick Ambush (Laoban) was disqualified from second and placed last. The disqualification cost the owner $100,000 in purse money. Thomas Albrecht, the managing partner of the group that owns The Big Torpedo (Big Brown) also sought an appeal, asking that the race winner Antonio of Venice (Laoban) be disqualified for interference. The Big Torpedo crossed the wire fourth, but was placed third because of the disqualification of Brick Ambush. That raised the possibility that if Antonio of Venice was not disqualified and Brick Ambush was restored as the official second-place finisher then Big Torpedo would be dropped back to fourth, which would have cost his owners $30,000.

On Tuesday, the Gaming Commission reached out to both owners and essentially ended any hopes they may have had that the order of finish of the race would be changed after their appeals were heard and the stewards were forced to explain a decision for which there doesn't appear to be an explanation. The reason why? According to the Gaming Commission, the decisions of the stewards are final and not subject to appeal.

Here was the Gaming Commission's response to the two owners:

“On December 17, 2023, the New York State Gaming Commission received correspondence from the connections of two horses that participated in the 9th race at Aqueduct Race Course on December 16, 2023. Specifically, the connections and/or their representatives sought to appeal the stewards' disqualification of the horse Brick Ambush and the stewards' declination to find interference by the horse Antonio of Venice. The correspondence collectively states disagreement with the decision of the stewards.”

“The Commission responded to the connections today (attached), advising them that the decisions to disqualify Brick Ambush and to not find interference by Antonio of Venice were judgment calls “based on questions of fact, which the stewards are empowered to make pursuant to Commission Rule 4039.20 (9 NYCRR §4039.20), and the decision(s) (are) therefore not appealable to the Commission, pursuant to Rule 4039.5. New York Courts have long held that stewards' placement decisions are questions of fact that cannot be appealed. See, e.g., In the Matter of the Seventh Race of June 12, 1996 at Belmont Park [May I Inquire] (NYSRWB 1996), confirmed, Matter of Moshera v. Bilinski, 244 A.D.2d 555 (2d Dep't 1995); see also Discenza v. N.Y. Racing Ass'n, 134 Misc. 2d 3, 7-8 (N.Y. Civ. Ct. 1986); Shapiro v. Queens County Jockey Club, 184 Misc. 295, 300 (N.Y. Mun. Ct. 1945). For these reasons, the stewards' decision is final and the New York State Gaming Commission cannot consider your appeal.”

Attorney Drew Mollica, who represents Reeves, ripped into the Gaming Commission over its decision.

“I'm going to do the research of the law but for this commission to stand by that technicality speaks volumes about the level of insensitivity and incompetence that permeates this industry,” he said. “We could still go to court. I'm not so sure the rules actually say that but let me do some research. To stand behind this kind of technicality bypasses the bigger issue. They are saying we can do what we want when we want, and that is farcical and they should be embarrassed.”

The controversy resulted from a pile-up at the quarter-pole, where three horses were involved in a bumping incident that caused each one to steady to varying degrees. Antonio of Venice, who was on the rail, came out and appeared to start a chain reaction that caused The Big Torpedo and Solo's Fury (Solomini) to take up. Solo's Fury was essentially eased after the incident and finished last.

While this was going on, Brick Ambush sat outside the other three horses, never bumped anyone, stayed in the same path and appeared to have nothing to do with the incident. The inquiry was posted shortly after the horses crossed the wire and, briefly, the No. 1, who was Antonio of Venice, was blinking on the toteboard. But after a lengthy review of the race, the stewards did not take down Antonio of Venice, ruling instead that it was Brick Ambush who caused the problems and placing him last. In addition, they gave Brick Ambush's rider Junior Alvarado a three-day suspension for careless riding.

“I felt like I was robbed, like I was mugged,” Reeves said.

On the Stewards' Decisions page on the NYRA website, here is how the stewards described the race and their reasoning for taking down Brick Ambush:  Steward's inquiry. At the 1/4 pole #12 Brick Ambush (Junior Alvarado) came in, causing a chain reaction. The #11 Solo's Fury (Jose Lezcano) pushes down into the #7 The Big Torpedo (Javier Castellano). After reviewing the video and speaking with the riders, the stewards disqualified the #12 Brick Ambush for interference and place him behind the #11 Solo's Fury.”

Not a subscriber? Click here to sign up for the daily PDF or alerts.

Copy Article Link

Liked this article? Read more like this.

  1. Caravaggio's Porta Fortuna Too Good in the Falmouth
  2. `This Was a Blast': Taylor on Royal Ascot High After Porta Fortuna Win
  3. NY Gaming Commission Fines Another NYRA Employee
  4. CHRB Denies Stay of Justify Decision, Will Entertain Appeal
  5. New York Gaming Commission Issues Update On Great White Way Stakes DQ, But Only Adds To The Confusion

Never miss another story from the TDN

Click Here to sign up for a free subscription.