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Stuck-In-Gate Horse Wins

Published: November 29, 2011 2:58 pm ET

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Docdor Chaser is not a household name. In fact, most folks wouldn’t know that Docdor Chaser is a horse, and a trotter at that. Over the years, the eight-year-old altered son of Sand Chaser more than paid his way earning over $161,000 in a career which began while as a two-year-old on the Ohio county fair circuit.

Docdor Chaser spent his formative years competing at Saratoga Raceway, but in early 2011 the horse changed hands three times. He is currently the property of ABC Melissa Stables of Monticello, New York, and to say the trotter's first start at Monticello Raceway on November 10, 2011 was an inauspicious one would be a gross understatement. And so much so, that no record of that race can be found.

Puzzling, you say? Well here’s the story and it is one for the record books.

It happened in (what would have been) the 12th race at Monticello on Thursday, November 10. Why there is no record of that effort, or, for that matter, the efforts of the other seven trotters in that race is because the judges declared that event a 'no contest' and all wagers were returned.

But why? Now get this: the horse got his teeth stuck in the mobile starting gate and driver Mike Merton couldn’t get Docdor Chaser free as the wings of the gate began to fold. But the alert starting judge, Scott Hamilton, saw what was happening and quickly re-opened the wings and slowed down so the horse could become unattached. However, in doing so, a few of the horses at the start of the race were interfered with by the commotion and literally had no chance to get involved in the race.

“We were going 40 miles an hour getting out of there and I couldn’t believe a horse was keeping up to the gate, that is until I looked down and noticed that Docdor Chaser somehow had gotten his top teeth over one of the rungs in the wings and couldn’t get free,” a stunned Hamilton said.

“So I quickly reopened the wings and backed off on the speed so the trotter could get free, but in doing so we interfered with some of the other horses. But everyone’s safety was paramount.”

“Not only have I never seen this before I never even heard of it happening,” Hamilton added.

“I didn’t know what the heck was going on,” Merton said. “We were travelling mighty fast and I couldn’t get him off the gate, but thanks to the experience and great judgment of the starter it all came out alright.”

So the judges had no alternative but to declare the race a 'no contest,' and no record of that happening can be found but for the memory of those who witnessed the event.

On November 17, Docdor Chaser’s first start after the incredible calamity, Merton gunned him to the lead from the eight hole, but the horse tired and finished fifth.

However, on Monday, November 28, Merton and Docdor Chaser teamed up again, but this time with good results. After leaving the five-hole and tucking in along the pylons Merton moved Docdor Chaser at the half and swept to the front and coasted home an easy three-length winner in a time of 2:00.2.

“That’s more like it,” trainer Basil Aldrich woofed after the trotter’s victory.” I knew this guy had some speed in him and he made us all forget the problems we had just two weeks prior.”

(Monticello)


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