By T. D. Thornton
The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) this week handed down a total of $5,000 in fines to three horsemen for “claiming irregularities” involving a race at Ellis Park over the summer.
Trainer Paul Holthus and owner Joe Ragsdale were each assessed $2,000 fines and owner Gary Tussey was assessed a $1,000 fine, all for their involvement in the claim of the NW2L filly Carolina Beach (Bernardini) for $16,000 out of the sixth race July 28.
In that Ellis race, Holthus was listed in the Equibase chart as the trainer for Carolina Beach, who finished fourth. The owner was listed as Rags Racing Stable LLC. The claim was made by trainer Thomas Vance on behalf of Tussey.
But when Carolina Beach resurfaced in the entries Sept. 11 in the second race at Indiana Grand, Rags Racing was still listed as the owner, with Holthus as her trainer. She ran second that day for a $10,000 NW2L tag.
In the ninth race at Indiana Grand Oct. 8, Carolina Beach stepped up in class and ran second for a $25,000 NW2L tag, also for Rags Racing/Holthus.
In the first race at Churchill Downs Oct. 31, Carolina Beach won her NW2L for a $30,000 tag and was claimed by trainer Mark Hubley on behalf of KatieRich Farms, LLC.
According to Equibase, Carolina Beach earned $31,640 for Rags Racing in the three starts between those two claims.
The KHRC rulings for Holthus and Ragsdale cite a state rule that reads, in part, “A claimed horse shall not remain in the same stable or under the care or management of the owner or trainer from whom it is claimed.”
The KHRC ruling for Tussey cites a state rule that reads, in part, “An owner or trainer shall not make an agreement with another owner or trainer for the protection of each other's horse in a claiming race.”
TDN attempted to reach KHRC executive director Marc Guilfoil on Friday afternoon for a plain-language explanation of the rulings and to see if any of the parties are appealing, but was told by the KHRC receptionist that he had left the office for the day.