Parx Jockey Ejected; Trainer Fighting Ban

Male rider allegedly in women jockeys’ room while one of them was in the shower.

By Tom LaMarra and Ron Mitchell

A jockey based at Parx Racing in Pennsylvania has been excluded from the property for allegedly being in the women jockeys’ room while one of them was in the shower.

The alleged incidents were the subject of Twitter comments in late December but Parx officials didn’t publicly announce Eriluis Vaz’s ejection. On Jan. 9 Parx assistant general counsel Frank McDonnell confirmed the exclusion.

McDonnell said Parx officials reviewed surveillance footage after the female jockey in question complained about a potential Peeping Tom.

Vaz was one of two riders involved in a mounted fight during the fifth race at Parx, then called Philadelphia Park Casino & Racetrack, Jan. 8, 2010. He issued a public apology for what he termed “bad judgment” in the scrap with fellow rider Ademar Santos.

Vaz and Santos came to blows during the running of a race for $7,500 claimers. Vaz was racing along the rail on the Luis Calderon-trained Divine Light and sent his mount toward the outside, causing Santos, aboard John Dunn trainee Mi Helena, to be pinched between horses.

Meanwhile, Bill Goldman, the attorney for trainer Juan Carlos Guerrero, also ejected from Parx, said Jan. 9 that a 10-year ban imposed on his client by the Pennsylvania track should be dismissed now that a misdemeanor criminal charge has been dropped.

The misdemeanor assault charge against Guerrero, the leading trainer at the Bensalem Township, Pa., track and among the leading North American trainers in 2011 by wins, earnings, and win percentage, was dropped Jan. 5 after the Bucks County District Attorney’s office concluded there “was no prosecutorial merit.”

Guerrero allegedly pursued a female employee of the track and pushed her into an office, where he pulled her to him and kissed her on the lips, according to court documents. She pushed him away, but he then touched her on the buttocks, the documents said.

McDonnell said the track believes the prosecutor should have presented the case to a grand jury and that the ban against Guerrero will remain in effect.

“The information we have indicates that Mr. Guerrero is a potential threat to all the women of our backstretch and we will not lift our ejection of him,” McDonnell said in an email. “We believe the district attorney used improper judgment and reasoning in not presenting the case to a jury, particularly since Mr. Guerrero admitted his conduct to the Bensalem Police.”

Goldman said McDonnell’s statement is “outrageous,” and that the 10-year ban by Parx should be lifted since the charges have been dropped.

“The matter was properly and thoroughly investigated and the charges were dropped,” Goldman said. “The criminal charges had no prosecutorial merit. To make these statements is outrageous.”

Goldman said he believes the ban against Guerrero is motivated by the trainer’s success and professional envy from other trainers. In 2011 Guerrero saddled 145 winners from 476 starters for a 30% win rate, with stable earnings of $3,400,295.

Goldman said he hopes the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission overturns Parx Racing’s ban when it hears the case Jan. 17. “I am confident the racing commission will do the right thing,” he said.