Charles Town Suspends Official, Jockeys

Riders were allowed to ride with more than their reported weight.

The clerk of scales and seven jockeys at Charles Town Races & Slots have been suspended and fined as a result of an investigation into riders competing with incorrect weight.

As a result of an investigation in which surveillance cameras were used to detect jockeys carrying more than the assigned weight, clerk of scales Michael Garrison was fined $1,000, suspended indefinitely, and had his occupational license suspended. According to the ruling issued by the stewards April 8, Garrison was suspended for “failing to use due diligence in the performance of his duty” as clerk of scales and for violating seven rules of racing. He was also found in violation for not testifying before the stewards.

The seven jockeys who were fined $1,000 each and suspended 30 days were Luis Perez, Tony Maragh, Alexis Rios Conde, Jesus Sanchez, Lawrence C. Reynolds, Dale Whittaker and Anthony Mawing. According to the ruling, each violated four rules of racing and were disciplined for “having been found guilty of dishonest acts in relation to conspiring along with a clerk of scales…failing to report and correct overweight and fraudulently doing his assigned weight (doing unreported overweights).

Chief steward Danny Wright said management at Penn National Gaming Inc., which owns the West Virginia track, began the surveillance after receiving a tip of some indiscretion involving the jockeys’ room.

Surveillance cameras were installed and immediately uncovered the actions of Garrison and the jockeys, Wright said. The violations were brought to the attention of the stewards, who acted quickly to take disciplinary action.

“We saw something astray, we stopped the bleeding immediately and moved forward,” Wright said.  Not only did they remove the offenders, but the fines and suspensions “sent a message immediately that this type of action would not be tolerated. This was about complacency. People felt they were allowed to push the envelope and they became complacent about their professionalism.”

Noting that Charles Town has made great strides in building a strong racing program as its purses have risen due to revenues generated by slots, Wright said “what we don’t need is a blackeye on (West Virginia) racing.”

Wright said the action was a result of “great coordination between management, the racing office and stewards.”