The newest face in the Belmont Park jockeys' room Oct. 17 also was the oldest. At 51, Jose Amy made his return to the New York jockey colony after more than 24 years during which he was banished for his involvement in a 1970s race-fixing scandal.
Amy rode Julia's Signal to an off-the-board finish for Dominic Galluscio in the fourth race. Amy was ruled off May 14, 1980. He had previously testified in court-in exchange for immunity against jockey Con Errico, who was handed a 10-year prison sentence. Amy claimed to have turned down Errico's offers to throw races until he was threatened with "Mafia retribution."
"That horse, he didn't look too good on paper," the Puerto Rico-born Amy said after his return ride. "But for me, that's the best horse I ever rode in my life."
Amy made numerous attempts to regain his license to ride in New York, but all were denied until Sept. 29 of this year. He has exercised horses locally for several years, and has received letters of support from several prominent New York trainers.
"I always though that I was going to be back," he said. "It is very emotional for me."
The winter meet at Aqueduct is approaching, and that's where Amy hopes to make his mark. Upon his return, Amy was greeted warmly in the paddock and a throng of family and friends cheered loudly and snapped photographs as he addressed the media afterwards.
"If my life ends tomorrow, they can bury me right now," Amy said. "I am the happiest man in the world."
Amy, who rode for a time in Puerto Rico, plans to hire an agent and make New York his year-round base of operations.