New York Regulators to Determine Status of Five Jockeys

By Dan Lauletta and
Tom Precious

Five jockeys named as un-indicted co-conspirators will have their fate decided by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board. A NYSRWB spokesman said the board had requested information from the state attorney general's office, but that no investigation had begun. Until such time, the riders -- Jose Santos, Cornelio Velasquez, Robby Albarado, Heberto Castillo Jr and Ariel Smith -- will maintain all of their riding privileges.

"We can't take any action until we have more of the facts," said Charlie Hayward, president & CEO of the New York Racing Association.

In issuing indictments against now former NYRA clerk of scales, Mario Sclafani, and assistant, Braulio Baeza, the attorney general's office elected not to prosecute the riders, even as they were named as knowing parties. Instead, the NYSRWB will make the decision about whether to penalize the jocks who are accused of riding several races at weights higher than published.

In an interview Thursday with The Blood-Horse, the state's chief racing regulator said he can't yet say what his agency is going to do be doing about the jockeys named in the indictment papers. Racing and Wagering Board Chairman Michael Hoblock said his agency was as surprised as anyone about the allegations involving the jockeys.

But he suggested his hands may be tied until State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer turns over documents from the investigation to his office so that racing officials can look into the charges against the jockeys. Hoblock said his office asked for the documents from Spitzer's investigators within hours of the announcement of the indictments being unsealed. Hoblock said there has been no response yet to the request.

The racing agency could move to make a summary judgment against any licensee involved in an alleged crime. But the individuals could then demand a quick hearing. Such a prospect would make it necessary to have the documents from the AG's investigation.

Hoblock said there was no timetable to the board's probe of the allegations. He did not, however, that NYRA has the authority on its own to suspend racing privileges of individuals named in a criminal investigation.

NYRA co-chairman Steven Duncker referred calls about the jockeys to Hayward.

"They're going to convene an investigation and try and get whatever information the attorney general has so we can make a ruling on whether these guys can continue to ride," Hayward said, "but until we have that, they're going to continue to ride here in New York."

Meanwhile, Cornelio Velasquez and Jose Santos declined to comment on the matter, as did several New York-based jockeys not involved in the case.