Guild Seeks East Coast Options for Banned Jockeys

With no official word coming on the cases of 10 jockeys banned from tracks in Florida and Pennsylvania last month, many of the riders in question have been forced to seek employment outside of their respective circuits while attorneys continue looking into their legal options.

According to Jockeys’ Guild representative Herbie Rivera, several of the banned jockeys are working as exercise riders on farms in Ocala, Fla. They are in limbo awaiting results from meetings between track management and attorneys in a case that reportedly involves a TRPB investigation of suspicious wagering on one or more races at Great Lakes Downs in Muskegon, Mich.

Rivera and fellow Jockeys’ Guild representative Larry Saumell are seeking access for the riders on the East Coast.

"We’re trying to put together something where they can hopefully ride somewhere in the next week or so, even if it’s just galloping," Rivera said. "Usually, when tracks deny access because of the private property law you’re still allowed to ride in other jurisdictions, so it was a major setback when Gulfstream didn’t let them ride." 

The wave of bans began Dec. 15, when officials at Calder Race Course enacted their rights as private property owners to eject jockey Rene Douglas from the grounds. Jose Bracho was ruled off that track on Dec. 16, three days before officials at Tampa Bay Downs banned Jorge Bracho, Derek Bell, Luis Castillo, Jose Delgado, Terry Houghton, Joseph Judice, and Ricardo Valdes. Alex Beitia was also denied access to Philadelphia Park on Dec. 19.

In recent developments, Houghton was denied access to Turfway Park in Florence, Ky., when his lawyer requested that the jockey be permitted to ride there this week. The leading rider at Great Lakes Downs in 2006, Houghton was the first banned jockey to contact Turfway about riding there. Last month, Turfway Park president Robert Elliston said he would not issue a blanket statement banning all the riders in question, but would review each jockey’s case before allowing or denying access to the Kentucky track.

While Hawthorne Race Course in Illinois and Laurel Park in Maryland permitted Douglas and Beitia, respectively, to ride, Gulfstream Park refused to allow the banned riders to be employed at the track in any manner.

Rivera said there has still been no word from track management or TRPB investigators as to why the riders have been banned, although it has been approximately thirty days since action was first taken against them.

"We’re hoping this doesn’t drag out for months and months," said Rivera. "Nobody can blame us for not doing the footwork; we’ve been all over the place meeting with management. These guys just need to be able to make a living until they’re charged with something. That’s all we’re asking for, some kind of feedback or answer as to why these guys have been ruled off."