Henryk de Kwiatkowski, still fuming over the way the stewards at Hialeah handled a disqualification in the furious three-horse finish in Saturday's Flamingo Stakes, said Monday night that he would file a formal protest with Florida racing authorities today.
De Kwiatkowski's colt, Stephan's Odyssey, finished third in the $265,000 Flamingo, a neck behind Proud Truth, who finished second and was a length behind the winner, Chief's Crown.
Hialeah's stewards posted the inquiry sign immediately after the horses crossed the wire and, after reviewing films of the finish for about 20 minutes, they disqualified Chief's Crown to second and moved Proud Truth up to first.
The stewards said that Chief's Crown, under left-handed whipping from jockey Don MacBeth, had drifted into the path of Proud Truth and caused interference. There was no contact between Chief's Crown and Proud Truth and de Kwiatkowski thought that Proud Truth had lugged in to Stephan's Odyssey, who was on the outside, and bumped him twice in the last 30 yards of the important Kentucky Derby prep race.
"As soon as I find out the correct procedure, I will protest the decision by sending a telegram," de Kwiatkowski said from his home in Nassau. "I don't care about the purse money, but it would be dishonest to racing if I didn't do something about an obvious injustice."
De Kwiatkowski's protest would be heard by the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering, which supervises racing in the state. Under Florida rules, de Kwiatkowski has until Thursday to appeal the stewards' decision.
Stewards' decisions are seldom overturned by racing authorities. The most famous appeal of a recent major race was made by the owners of Genuine Risk, the filly who finished second to Codex in the 1980 Preakness Stakes. The stewards, after an objection by Genuine Risk's jockey, Jacinto Vasquez, ruled that a drifting Codex hadn't interfered with the filly in the stretch. After a three-day hearing, the Maryland Racing Board upheld the stewards' decision.
Because Eddie Maple, riding Stephan's Odyssey Saturday, didn't claim foul against Proud Truth, he may lose the mount on the colt.
"Eddie should have claimed foul, and Henryk didn't like it," said Woody Stephens, who trains Stephan's Odyssey. "It might hurt him."
De Kwiatkowski didn't deny that he was upset with Maple, but said he would make a decision later whether the jockey will continue riding the horse.
"I was riding so hard at the end that I didn't know who hit who," Maple said, explaining why he didn't lodge a foul claim.
On Monday, the stewards suspended Don MacBeth, Chief's Crown's jockey, for 10 days, starting on Wednesday and running through April 12. Roger Laurin, the trainer of Chief's Crown, said his owners also considered protesting the colt's disqualification, but decided not to do so.