New York Jockeys Suspended 30 Days

New York stewards handed out some of the toughest penalties in years when they slapped jockeys Jose Espinoza and Pablo Fragoso with 30-day bans following a wild confrontation during Sunday's sixth race at Aqueduct.

Neither jockey would take the blame for the incident, and both have appealed.

Fragoso was riding Prince Tutta, who rushed up to take the lead after a slow start and came over in front of Tsuris as they entered the clubhouse turn.

Prince Tutta was clear turning up the backstretch, but Espinoza appeared to intentionally rush Tsuris alongside the leader and began bumping with Fragoso's mount. Espinoza denied any retaliatory tactics.

"I was just race riding," Espinoza said. "I was trying to put some pressure on him. We have been friends for a long time. We are friends today."

The pair continuously exchanged bumps along the backstretch with Fragoso on the inside of Espinoza. As the far turn loomed, Fragoso reached out with his right hand in an effort to keep Tsuris off the flank of Prince Tutta. Espinoza responded by slamming back into Fragoso in a move that could have possibly put the latter over the rail.

"He was right next to me, and he kept bumping me and bumping me," Fragoso explained. "Everybody thought I pushed him, but I (didn't). I was just trying to protect myself. The rail was right there. I was afraid to go down."

Espinoza claimed the only point at which he lost his head came after Fragoso shoved him and he feared being dropped. Fragoso thought Espinoza began by rushing up and initiating contact.

Both riders were calm and neither seemed to be harboring any ill feelings towards the other.

Tsuris wound up third in the race, while Prince Tutta tired to last.

The stewards took a brief look at the incident, determined the final finish was not affected, and called the race official without posting an inquiry for the benefit of the public. Because the incident was not apparent from the pan replay, it went unnoticed by most observers.