Trainer Appeals Fine, Suspension Issued After New Mexico Horse Mix-Up

Trainer Justin Evans and the horse identifier at the Downs at Albuquerque have both been fined for a horse mix-up that occurred during a maiden special weight race on Aug. 14, reports

Evans entered two plain bay geldings, Extremely Wicked and Square Root, in the six-furlong contest. According to the chart, Extremely Wicked won the race wearing the number nine saddle cloth, and Square Root finished third wearing the number six. The number nine paid $5.40 to win as the second choice, while the even-money favorite, number six, paid $2.40 to show.

In the test barn, however, it was discovered that number nine was actually Square Root.

In an Aug. 21 ruling, the New Mexico board of stewards ordered both horses disqualified and unplaced; the horse identifier was fined $1,000; and Evans was fined $5,000 and suspended 15 days (Aug. 26 – Sept. 9). Evans appealed the ruling on Aug. 23, and also filed for a temporary restraining order to controvert the suspension.

“They fined the identifier $1,000 and he keeps his job, but they want to give me a $5,000 fine and take away 15 days when I have a family to feed and own half of my 45-horse stable so I won’t be able to transfer any of my horses,” Evans told “Look, the identifiers are up against it because they have terrible equipment. The scanners they use don’t show the horse’s name and number, only a list of 20 numbers. They want to use the absolute insurer rule, but the track also needs to provide the tools to make sure things like this don’t happen.”

Evans said the track does not provide numbered smocks for grooms leading horses to the paddock, and that there are not enough valets to saddle the horses. One of his horses was acting up and had to be saddled outside the paddock on that afternoon, Evans added.

“The valets put the 6 on the 9 horse and the 9 on the 6 horse,” the trainer explained. “The identifier said they were the correct horses. They run and nothing is caught until 20 minutes after the race when they are back at the test barn.”


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