Jockey Eriluis Vaz, one of two riders involved in a mounted fight during the fifth race at Philadelphia Park Casino & Racetrack Jan. 8, has issued a public apology for what he terms “bad judgment” as he awaits a hearing before the stewards along with fellow rider Ademar Santos.
“I would like to…say how sorry I really am for the incident that happened between myself and Mr. Santos,” Vaz wrote in a statement that was issued to the horse racing television network TVG. “I made a terrible mistake reacting the way I did during the race the other day.”
Vaz and Santos face a stewards’ ruling after coming to blows during the running of a race for $7,500 claimers at Philadelphia Park. 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. As Vaz corrected his mount, Santos stood in the irons and turned his head to speak to Vaz.
“I asked, ‘Man, why you go like that?’” Santos told The Philadelphia Inquirer.
After Santos spoke to Vaz, Vaz punched Santos in the face. Santos swung back, then Vaz struck at him with his whip before Santos’ mount drew away. Vaz and Divine Light finished fifth but were disqualified to ninth by the stewards. Mi Helena and Santos finished ninth.
“I made a mistake, one that I will regret the rest of my life,” Vaz stated. “I used bad judgment and should have handled the situation differently. I apologize to everyone for my actions, and hope that I will be forgiven by all the owners and trainers that I am privileged to ride for…also my fellow riders, and the betting public who back me day after day…I am heartfully (sic) sorry.”
The jockeys will go before the Philadelphia Park stewards at 10 a.m. EST Jan. 21.