Berrio Gets 6-Month Ban for Cocaine Use
by Jack Shinar
Date Posted: 8/14/2008 3:41:35 PM
Last Updated: 8/15/2008 2:59:14 PM

Omar Berrio
Photo: Benoit
Jockey Omar Berrio was suspended for six months by Del Mar stewards Aug. 13 after he tested positive for cocaine.

It was the second positive test in less than three months for the 39-year-old Berrio, who was denied a license to ride by stewards in New York May 26, according to a Del Mar track spokesman. His suspension-- for being unfit to license and for use of an illegal substance (cocaine)--will run through Feb. 8, 2009.

Berrio was first tested in New York when applying for a license in order to ride Global Hunter for trainer A.C. Avila in the Metropolitan Handicap (gr. I) at Belmont Park. Berrio was sanctioned to ride that day, with Global Hunter finishing last of nine, but his application was subsequently denied following the positive test result. He was tested in California Aug. 10, according to Del Mar stewards.

In order to be considered for reinstatement, Berrio must have completed an approved rehabilitation program and appear at a fitness hearing before stewards. During the course of the suspension, he is barred from racetracks.

The Panamanian jockey, based in Southern California for the past 19 years, is no longer riding for Avila and he does not list an agent to represent him. A phone message left at an unidentified number listed as his representative was not immediately returned. He has had 80 mounts in 2008, winning six times.

In a separate matter, jockeys Rafael Bejarano and Victor Espinoza were fined $500 apiece by stewards for a scuffle in the Del Mar jockeys' room following the Best Pal Stakes (gr. II) Aug. 10. They were cited for disorderly conduct.

Espinoza, who was aboard Kelly Leak in the $150,000 stakes for 2-year-olds at 6 1/2 furlongs, was disqualified for interference after crossing the wire a nose in front of Azul Leon, ridden by Bejarano. Azul Leon was declared the winner and Kelly Leak was dropped to fourth by stewards.

Espinoza was earlier suspended for three racing days for failing to make the effort to maintain a straight course. His penalty is to be served Aug. 18, 20 and 21.

Bejarano leads the Del Mar jockey colony with 29 victories through Aug. 13. Espinoza is fifth with 10 wins.


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