Second Hambo Appeal Pending

Published: August 23, 2017 02:24 pm EDT

After the connections of What The Hill appealed the finish and ruling of the 2017 Hambletonian, reports indicate that a second appeal is in the works.

Trainer John Butenschoen told Tuesday morning that he plans on filing an appeal to the New Jersey Racing Commission (NJRC) regarding the order of finish in the $1 million Hambletonian on Aug. 5 at the Meadowlands.

Two inquiries were immediately launched by the Meadowlands track judges after the horses crossed the wire in the Hambletonian final, and while they disqualified the winner What The Hill for interference in the stretch, they did not find any reason to take action regarding an incident in the first turn that led to second-choice International Moni making a break.

The first-turn incident involved the Scott Zeron-driven International Moni making a break and falling out of contention. The track judges looked at the video of International Moni's break and while it showed the Yannick Gingras-driven Victor Gio IT in close proximity, they determined there was no interference that led to International Moni going offstride.

After further review following declaring the race "official," the track judges changed International Moni's break to an interference break.

The Butenschoen-trained Giveitgasandgo finished seventh-placed-sixth after the disqualification of What The Hill to ninth. However, if interference had been ruled in the first turn and Victor Gio IT had also been disqualified and placed back, then Giveitgasandgo would have been moved up to fifth.

Butenschoen's argument is that if interference had occurred and the "ix" was charted, then there should have been a disqualification of Victor Gio IT. As it currently stands, Giveitgasandgo received $10,000 for finishing sixth (as did all starters sixth through 10th), while the fifth-place finisher Victor Gio IT earned $45,000.

Trainer Ron Burke and the rest of the connections of What The Hill have already filed an appeal to the NJRC disputing that disqualification. Butenschoen said he understands that if the What The Hill camp wins the appeal and that trotter is restored as the Hambletonian winner, then he will have no reason to appeal. He said without any current resolution in that matter, he has no choice but to file his appeal paperwork in the proper timeframe to ensure it proceeds if necessary.

"I sent a letter to the NJRC that I plan to appeal and I am still within the timeframe to do that," said Butenschoen. "I was hoping that there was some resolution before I spend a lot of time and money. It's too much money to walk away from and there are too many questions that I don't have answered.

"Nothing has happened with the Burke stuff and I have 45 days to file the appeal and I intend to do that. If Burke wins though then it's a moot point. I can appeal to the court myself or hire an attorney and I don't want to spend money unnecessarily."

(with files from