Veteran jockey Ron Franklin, whose career has been ruined by drug abuse, asked the Maryland Racing Commission Feb. 20 to re-instate his license to ride. At the end of the day, he got part of what he asked for, plus an injection of hope for the future.
A five-member committee, who heard the case after the racing commission's regular monthly meeting at Laurel Park, restored Franklin's exercise license it had revoked in November 2005 and told him it will entertain an application to restore his jockey's license in six months--if he follows their directives.
Frankliln must attend counseling with Dr. Reginald Gerstein at Fair Grounds three times a week. Gerstein and Franklin must maintain communication with Bill Borchardt, director of the Horsemen's Counseling Program in Maryland. And Franklin must take two random drug tests each month.
"It's positive, very positive," said Franklin, his voice breaking. "They didn't have to give me anything. I really thank the (commission) and everyone who has worked with me to be able to be here."
Franklin, 47, must regain his Maryland jockey's license in order to obtain a license in Louisiana, where he resides and is working to regain his career.
It appeared his chances of getting another chance from the commission, which took away his jockey's license in 1992, seemed in doubt when commissioner Alvin Aikman made it clear Franklin had left many bad memories from past misdeeds.
"He had all the talent in the world and he threw it away," Aikman said. "When he was here the last time, we gave him (an exercise) license, not because he had earned it, but because of his past achievements. And he walked away from the program, from the people who he was supposed to be in touch with without a word.
"I've never had a jockey kiss us off like that. I don't care if he blew out his knee and thought his life was over. His life was over when he started taking the drugs, not when he blew out his knee."
Franklin became a star at 19 when he rode Spectacular Bid to wins in the 1979 Kentucky Derby(gr. I) and Preakness Stakes (gr. I) before finishing third in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I).