The Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering has scheduled a hearing for Nov. 5 on jockey Paco Lopez’s appeal of a 30-day suspension from Calder Race Course stewards.
Lopez holds a commanding lead in wins for the Miami Gardens, Fla., track’s Calder meet, which ends Oct. 19. The outcome of the hearing could determine his status for a large part of the track’s Tropical meet which will run through Jan. 2, 2009.
Through Oct. 9, Lopez had 156 wins at Calder this year. Manoel Cruz was second with 110, followed by Javier Santiago with 100.
Lopez, a 22-year old native of Mexico, has built that lead even though he has missed 13 days due to suspensions by stewards.
Calder stewards suspended Lopez Aug. 4 for 30 days for what they called “an extremely careless riding incident” the previous day. Lopez appealed that suspension.
The Nov. 5 hearing in Tallahassee, Fla., will be conducted by a hearing officer of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. The Florida DPMW is a division of that department. The hearing is open to Lopez, his attorney and stewards--all of whom may participate by phone.
The hearing officer can uphold, reduce or overturn the suspension. The officer will have up to 90 days to issue a ruling. An official of the Florida DPMW said “it does not normally take that long.”
Lopez rode Quarter Horses as a teenager in Mexico and began his U.S. career at Calder in 2007.
He had a five-pound weight allowance for non-stakes races until Sept. 8, 2008. The loss of that apprentice status has not cost him rides from several top trainers who have been using him throughout the Calder meet. His 2008 record has made him a top candidate for this year’s Apprentice Jockey Eclipse Award.
Lopez will turn 23 on Oct. 18, the day of Calder’s annual Festival of the Sun. His mounts that day will include Harold Queen’s Big Drama in the 1 1/16 mile In Reality Stakes--the third leg in the Florida Stallion Stakes open division for 2-year olds.
Lopez rode Big Drama to wins in that series’ Dr. Fager and Affirmed Stakes. Big Drama is a son of Montbrook out of the Notebook mare Riveting Drama. He is trained by David Fawkes.