Charlie May-be not: NJRC upholds Lawless Shadow’s Meadowlands Pace victory

Charlie May’s owner Don Tiger vows to appeal again.

by Debbie Little

For about a month and a half, owner Don Tiger’s Charlie May reigned as the Meadowlands Pace champ after being reinstated on Feb. 10 in a 15-page decision, by New Jersey Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), Andrew M. Baron.

That initial ALJ decision was pending a final decision by the New Jersey Racing Commission (NJRC), and the NJRC did not agree with Baron.

As with all decisions adjudicated by any ALJ in the state of New Jersey, they are brought before the NJRC and can be accepted, rejected or modified.

At the NJRC’s public meeting held on Wednesday (March 23) afternoon at The Meadowlands, the six commissioners voted in favor of a motion from commission chair Pamela J. Clyne to uphold the original racetrack judges’ decision over the recommendation of ALJ Baron.

In her motion, Clyne referred to the strong video evidence of Charlie May going off-stride and interfering with other horses as the basis for the racetrack judges’ correct decision to disqualify Charlie May on the night of the 2021 Meadowlands Pace.

Tiger was in attendance and took the opportunity to share his thoughts on the decision during the public comment portion of the meeting.

He read examples of how other sports made wrong calls but owned up to their mistakes. He explained that the racetrack judges did not “exhaust any and all measures” in making their decision on Pace night, therefore going against their own rules.

He also said that transparency is important for all major sports and he hoped that one day the Commission would consider that.

This decision does not become final until after the conclusion of a review period.

In a previous edition of HRU, attorney Howard Taylor explained that from his many previous experiences before the NJRC, they never accept the decision of the ALJ if it is contrary to that of their own racetrack judges.

On Feb. 21, Taylor sent a letter to the executive director of the NJRC, Judith Nason, explaining that he was representing Dr. Ian Moore and Frank Cannon, two of the owners of Lawless Shadow, who was declared the winner of the Pace after Charlie May was disqualified.

In the letter, Taylor said his clients were upset that they were never advised that there would be a hearing before ALJ Baron and had they known they would have had a representative present as they have interests in the outcome.

He went on to say that the purpose of his letter was to ask the Commission to “consider rescinding Judge Baron’s ruling for the above reasons and conducting a new administrative hearing affording all who’s rights were affected, the opportunity to participate.”

Taylor sent a subsequent letter to Nason on March 17 which said: “I received your letter dated February 28, 2023, containing a letter reportedly sent to all with an interest in the Appeal filed by Don Tiger in the above matter. My clients who own Lawless Shadow, Frank Cannon and Dr. Ian Moore, strenuously deny ever receiving any such letter.”

The letter went on to ask for documentation that the aforementioned letter was actually sent to any, or all, of the owners with interests.

Obviously, this point is important to the connections of Lawless Shadow since Tiger plans to continue his fight.

“We are definitely going to appeal to the appellate court and we feel very strong [about the case] too,” said Tiger following the NJRC final decision.

Tiger has always believed that it was Southwind Gendry — not Charlie May — that was responsible for causing the chain reaction and that the judges are on the record saying they never even looked at Southwind Gendry.

In a Meadowlands recap from Saturday (March 18), driver Yannick Gingras had just won that night with Southwind Gendry and was quoted saying in part: “My horse struggles a little bit in the last turn. He just slows down a little, that’s why they got close, but once he straightened away, he was good again.”

The quote is interesting when you consider that the incident on Pace night took place late in the far turn.