Lexington, KY — Owner Don Tiger confirmed to the U.S. Trotting Association Tuesday morning (July 20) that he has filed an appeal with the New Jersey Racing Commission regarding the disqualification of his gelding Charlie May from a victory in last Saturday’s (July 17) $700,000 Meadowlands Pace at The Meadowlands.
The news was first reported by Harness Racing Update on Monday night (July 19).
“At the end of the day, I don’t know if it will work out, but I’m going to fight for the little guy,” said Tiger, who resides in Canonsburg, Pa. and currently owns only one other horse besides Charlie May. “One of my biggest pet peeves with all this is that they didn’t talk to any of the drivers after the race. I think with a race of this magnitude you should talk to some of the folks and see what they say. My attorney was told that and he said that doesn’t make sense. You can watch the video, but you should also be able to consult and see what some of the people have to say. It’s due process; I just want them to get as much information as possible.”
In the Meadowlands Pace, which was contested on a “good” racetrack due to persistent rain, driver Brett Miller was second-over with Charlie May, following the cover of the Yannick Gingras-driven Southwind Gendry, who was challenging the leading Perfect Sting, who was driven by David Miller.
Around the final turn it appeared Southwind Gendry took some extra steps, which led to Brett Miller moving Charlie May quickly right, where he was run into by the Dexter Dunn-driven Rockyroad Hanover, who made a break and then caused other trailing horses to also go off-stride.
Miller was able to regather Charlie May and the 3-year-old son of McArdle came roaring back to cross the wire first in 1:48.3, edging the Mark MacDonald-driven Lawless Shadow, who rallied late to catch Perfect Sting, by a neck.
The judges posted an unofficial order of finish that showed the 14-1 Charlie May as the winner, but they also flashed the “inquiry” sign as they reviewed the incident in the far turn. After several minutes, the Meadowlands’ toteboard went dark and a new “official” order of finish was posted that showed Lawless Order as the winner, Perfect Sting second and Southwind Gendry third. Charlie May was placed ninth by the Meadowlands judges.
“It would have been a storybook ending if they kept my number on the board,” said Tiger. “What they took away was probably one of the greatest stories, in my opinion, in the history of horse racing.
“Going to the gate, in my mind it doesn’t matter what happens, I already won. Here’s a little guy with two horses in training, saved the mare from the kill-pen, bred her, barely got the horse in foal, had a foal, a small diminutive Ohio-bred. He’s not some big, strapping colt, he’s a tiny little guy. We overcame everything you could do.”
Believing there was no reason for a disqualification, Miller had brought Charlie May back to the Meadowlands’ winner’s circle. Tiger said the driver told him afterward he was very surprised by the outcome.
“Brett said the horse in front of him interfered with him and that caused the chain reaction,” said Tiger. “He went to the winner’s circle and never thought in a million years they would take us down. It’s a muddy track, there’s bumping at the beginning, and (Southwind Gendry) put some steps in on the backside, he put some steps in on the turn. When you’re watching TV, you see the incident and it goes bang, bang, bang.”
Tiger said he watched the race from a skybox while holding his 13-month-old son Julian, and then walked down the stairs to the winner’s circle where he awaited the judges’ decision.
“I went right down the steps and I wanted to be by myself,” he said. “Whatever is meant to be, I said Lord, make me strong. They took the number off the board and I probably should have wilted to the ground and started crying, but all I did was kiss my son and walk back inside, and take the elevator back up.
“I tried to tell everybody it’s all right, life goes on. That’s all you can do.
“It’s gut wrenching and it hurts, and at some point maybe I’ll tear up a bunch, but at the end of the day, I still have Charlie May and there are more chapters to be run. People said, ‘Your horse got completely stopped in the turn, ran sideways, and still came back to win.’ You have to take something with that.
“I wouldn’t be taking this as good as I am if it wasn’t for my son Julian. You look in his eyes, he’s pulling my hair, he doesn’t know what the hell is happening at the Meadowlands. He has his finger up my nose after the race, and this is all that’s good in this world. I’ve had two miracles in my life: Charlie May and Julian.”
Tiger realizes the appeal will be costly, but he also has plans for the $350,000 winner’s share if the disqualification is overturned.
“If they overturn my decision and by some miracle they give me the purse, I will give sixth through 10th $35,000, which is five percent,” said Tiger. “My reason for doing that is because it was a deluged track and everybody deserves a payday. And the rest of the money I will give to charity. I’m not a rich guy. Understand that $350,000 is a life changer for me, but if they give me that miracle I’m going to do the right thing and give it all to somebody else.”
Tiger also has one other wish as the appeal process works through. He wishes members of the Little Brown Jug Society find a way to make Charlie May, who is trained by Ohioan Steve Carter, eligible to the Little Brown Jug in late September at the Delaware, Ohio fairgrounds.
The Jug conditions state that “Three-year-old pacers not eligible as of February 15, 2021 may, with a payment of $45,000, supplement to the Little Brown Jug if they have won either the Cane Pace, the Messenger, The North America Cup or the Meadowlands Pace.”
“The only thing I hope and pray will happen, is that the Little Brown Jug Society sits down and says, this horse crossed the wire first, the race is under appeal, we should at least allow him to be able to supplement to the Little Brown Jug. Not get a free ride, to be able to supplement,” said Tiger. “They can make those decisions. Give us an opportunity that was taken away. Give us a chance. All we’re asking for is a chance. I could instead go to the Ohio Breeders Championship and he’s 1-9 or 1-5 instead of 10-1 in the Little Brown Jug, but give me and my camp the opportunity to make that decision.”