Wednesday afternoon's 9-horse field for the Jugette at Delaware, Ohio, has been reduced by one following the scratch of I Said Diamonds. The 3-year-old filly pacer was scratched by the track judges following an incident Tuesday morning in the Jugette Barn when it was discovered an unauthorized person was in her stall.
The Horseman has learned it was the presence of trainer Lou Pena that led to not only the scratching of the A Piece Of The Action-owned filly--who has Matias Ruiz as the listed trainer--but also Pena's eviction from the grounds.
Pena, who is not licensed in the state of Ohio, was in I Said Diamonds' stall Tuesday morning holding the filly while she was being treated by a veterinarian. Sources told The Horseman that the connections of the filly told Jugette Barn security the filly was in distress due to signs of colic, and needed to be treated. Security did not immediately recognize Pena, despite the fact that his name was on the front of his shirt. Security confiscated what was being used to treat the filly and sent for testing.
Trainer Nancy Johansson, whose Jugette starter Darlinonthebeach is in the stall next to that of I Said Diamonds, told The Horseman Wednesday morning that the trainers had a meeting on Monday where they were given the policies and procedures of the Jugette Barn. She added security also went through all the tack trunks.
"When people came over, they said she was colicking, but everyone would have known if she was in distress," Johansson said. "It was not a secret that he (Pena) was here Monday morning, sweeping up, taking care of her. It bothered me when I got here and saw Pena in the detention barn. I didn't want to put a cloud over the race, but when someone is in the stall, you can't ignore it."
Johansson said she was relieved I Said Diamonds was scratched. Bob McIntosh, the trainer of Jugette starter LA Delight, said he considered scratching his filly had I Said Diamonds not been taken out by the judges. McIntosh told The Horseman while he was not at the Jugette Barn Wednesday morning, he was quickly made aware of the situation.
"Yes, I was prepared to scratch," McIntosh said. "This was just so blatant. I was glad it got resolved before I got here.
The rules are posted in the barn," he added. "In my mind, the only way to be effective is to make the owners accountable, and suspend the horse."
McIntosh said the incident confirms what he has heard in the past.
I had heard the first of the year that Pena was training 100 horses under various different trainers, so I guess it might be true," he said.
Delaware County fair officials issued this statement late Wednesday afternoon: I Said Diamonds was scratched from today’s Jugette by the Ohio State Racing Commission approved judges. It was determined that an unlicensed individual was present in a restricted area in violation of detention rules. In the best interest of the race it was decided to withdraw her from the field.--by Gordon Waterstone