Racing Commission suspends 3 in Austintown racino horse dispute

Live horse racing begins Friday at Hollywood Gaming in Austintown, Ohio.
Horses run in a race at Hollywood Gaming in Austintown, Ohio, on Oct. 30, 2015.


AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The State Racing Commission has made its ruling on a racing dispute at the Mahoning Valley Race Course, in which a male horse raced in an all-female horse race.

An investigation determined that there was no evidence of an attempt to fraudulently affect the outcome of the race, according to a report issued Monday on the Commission’s investigation of the race.

Three men were suspended for failing to properly perform their duties, and all four involved in the care of the involved horse were fined.

The investigation began after it was discovered that a horse listed as Ruby Queen, a 3-year-old female, won the race despite being a 99-to-1 long shot. The horse was inspected later and found that it was instead a male horse by the name of Leathers Slappin.

All parties involved in the dispute waived their right to a hearing, leaving the case to the Ohio Racing Commission. Three track judges, including one employed by the Ohio Racing Commission and two employed by Penn National Gaming, the company that owns the Hollywood Gaming racino, completed the investigation and report.

The horse identifier, Thomas Clark, was suspended for 60 days as a result of the investigation, and he was fined $500 for failing to identify that the horse was not Ruby Queen.

The investigation also found that the horse trainer, Shane Spiess, employed a groom (person responsible for the care of animal) and a substitute trainer that did not have current licenses for the duties they performed. Spiess failed to notify those in charge that a substitute trainer would be saddling his horse.

Michael Micallef, the groom, brought the wrong horse to the paddock for the race.

Spiess and Micallef were suspended for 30 days, beginning December 1, and each were fined $500.

The substitute trainer, Francisco Avina, did not have a valid license, according to the Racing Commission. He was fined $200.

The horse, Ruby Queen, is disqualified from all purse money from the November 4 race.

The ruling may be appealed, according to the report. An appeal must be made in writing and filed within 48 hours of the ruling.

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