Another Case Of Mistaken Identity Alleged At Albuquerque - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Another Case Of Mistaken Identity Alleged At Albuquerque

Two Thoroughbreds previously owned by Judge Lanier Racing apparently were inadvertently switched last year before a pair of races at the Downs at Albuquerque in New Mexico and the track's horse identifier failed to catch the error. One year later, their Equibase statistical data has not been corrected, though the New Mexico Racing Commission is now looking into the matter.

Trainer Sherry Armstrong sent out a filly she believed to be named McCirca for two races at Albuquerque on Aug. 22, 2020, and Sept. 16, 2020. Armstrong said she learned shortly after the Sept. 16 race that McCirca was actually another 4-year-old filly named McMissy, also owned by Judge Lanier Racing. Both were bred by McKenna Thoroughbreds and sired by McKenna's Justice.

One major difference between the two fillies: McCirca is a bay, while McMissy is chestnut.

Both horses were part of the Judge Lanier Racing LLC Dispersal of Race Horses held online Sept. 16, 2020, through Sept. 23, 2020, conducted by The stable, owned by Tom and Sandy McKenna and named after Tom's grandfather, Judge C.M. Lanier, has been a leading owner in New Mexico.

The auction company was alerted to the mixup and posted the following correction on McMissy's catalogue page: “IMPORTANT UPDATE: Due to a paddock identification error, McMissy ran 8/22/20 and 9/16/21 at The Downs at Albuquerque, not McCirca. McCirca was not at the racetrack on those dates and did not race.”[

A similar message was on McCirca's page.

“I basically had nothing to do with it,” Armstrong said. “Judge Lanier sent me horses with tags on their halters. I never saw the papers. I didn't know anything about it until they went to sell them and Sandy said, 'This is a big mess.'”

Armstrong said the filly she saddled did have a microchip for identification purposes but said “our identifier is not the best.” However, Armstrong admitted, “I know it's the trainer's ultimate responsibility.”

It wasn't just the trainer or Albuquerque's horse identifier who failed to properly identify the horse. The private veterinarian who treated the horse with furosemide on race-day apparently didn't check the ID, either. (Note: New Mexico still permits private veterinarians in the stalls for furosemide shots on race-day.)

McMissy ran twice at Zia Park after the mixup, but his past performance lines for the Nov. 4, 2020, and Dec. 22, 2020, races did not include the races from Albququerque that were credited to McCirca.

McCirca ran at Albuquerque on Aug. 29, 2021, and again on Sept. 14, 2021, in what was actually her first race since March 8, 2020. However, her past performance lines include the two races at Albuquerque that should have been credited to McMissy.

Izzy Trejo, executive director of the New Mexico Racing Commission, said he had only recently been alerted to the alleged mixup and that the commission will be examining video of the races and conducting interviews to determine whether proper protocols were followed. Don Cook, the general manager at the Downs at Albuquerque, told the Paulick Report he was unaware of the mistaken identities.

Another New Mexico-based trainer, Justin Evans, was suspended 15 days and fined $5,000 for mixing up two horses from his stable entered in the same race at Albuquerque on Aug. 14. Evans criticized the equipment given to the horse identifier and the process used to confirm the identity of horses as they come into the paddock. The identifier received a $1,000 fine for the error involving the Evans horses.

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