The Daily Racing Form reports that Belle of the Hall was inadvertently scratched from yesterday’s feature race at Belmont Park. The scratching happened when Carmine Donofrio, a Steward at Belmont Park apparently was responsible for taking scratches. According to the article, he inadvertently scratched a horse when the races were taken off the turf. In an error of judgment, he scratched this horse.
The trainer of the horse, Tom Albertrani, called the steward demanding to know who scratched the horse. Donofrio admitted his error, and allowed the horse to run for purse money only. Belle of the Hall won for West Point Thoroughbreds, however the bettor was not able to cash any tickets due to this error.
This is not the first time Mr. Dononfrio has been the cause of an issue for the bettor. During the Saratoga meet, Donofrio caused the wagering on the Coronation Cup to be halted five minutes before post time. The YNN story highlights that Donofrio once again admits fault.
Donofrio serves as the appointed Racing and Wagering Board Steward. While two mistakes involving the betting public in the last six weeks is statistically insignificant, it still matters. The racing office had been taking scratches, the fact remains there are multiple layers to double check whether a scratch is valid. When the call is made to the Steward, it’s clear that the oversight simply is not there. This is especially difficult in light of the fact that, as Donofrio states “Once the scratch is put out, it cannot be undone.” That means there needs to be some manner of fail safe put in to make sure this doesn’t happen in the future.
West Point was okay and the horse was able to run. She won and received the purse money. The individuals harmed by this are the bettors. They are the ones relying on the Stewards the most to make sure that inadvertent incidents like this do not occur. The betting public and racing fans deserve accountability. Right now we get an “Oops my bad” attitude, which simply is not good enough.