Prescott Shifts Tack to Ellis Park after River Downs Banishment

Jockey Rodney Prescott, who is second in wins in the nation this year, will begin riding at Ellis Park today after being banished July 16 from River Downs where he is currently the leading rider.

Prescott, who had repeatedly voiced his concerns about the safety of the new surface at the Cincinnati, Ohio track, said he wasn't given a reason for the eviction.

"I think they're singling me out because I stand up and voice my opinion and don't ride over unsafe conditions," Prescott told The Blood-Horse.

Prescott has moved his tack to Ellis Park in Henderson, Ky., for the remainder of the meet that ends Sept. 5, and has mounts for the second and ninth races today.

"Once they see him (t)here, he'll probably ride more than anybody," said Prescott's agent Jim McNernery in an Ellis Park release. "I have probably 25 to 30 calls already for the balance of this (condition) book. He should be riding seven, eight or nine (races) a day for sure."

Prescott was handed an eviction notice by River Downs security two days after he and about 15 other riders quit riding early Thursday, July 14, deeming the track condition too dangerous.

Prescott won the first race aboard Disco John and was unplaced in the second race before he quit riding that day. He and the other jockeys returned to ride the full card Friday and Saturday.

"It is our policy that any rider can take off anytime and he's not penalized," said River Downs spokesman John Engelhardt. "It's an individual's decision of whether or not they want to ride on the track. We don't influence that decision."

Prescott said he has repeatedly voiced his concerns to management about the new racing surface but said the issues have not been resolved.

"Ever since they put the new surface down, we've had trouble with it," Prescott said. "The other day after it rained the track was bad. Everyone else was complaining about how their horses weren't handling it and how it was unsafe and uneven. It just hasn't been getting fixed. They haven't done anything about it."

Engelhardt said track officials have not ignored jockeys' concerns.

"As a matter of fact, on Friday we cancelled training. We worked the track Thursday evening, and then Friday during the day up until racing," Engelhardt said. "After the jocks rode on it they requested the track be floated and we held up racing so we could get the machines out there and float it for them."

As to why Prescott was banished, Engelhardt said it was "in the best interest of River Downs, its patrons and participants." He also said River Downs has always been in the forefront of jockey causes, citing contributions to various jockey foundations.

"We have addressed their concerns," Engelhardt said. "Going back to April, after listening to the horsemen we took three days off to really work the track. Obviously a new track surface requires extra attention and we're trying to give it that attention as much as we can."

As of July 20, Prescott is currently the second leading jockey in the nation with 211 wins from 1,134 starts and earnings of $1,869,604. Russell Baze leads with 214 wins from 679 starts.

Prescott also leads River Downs jockey standings with the most wins: 20 victories from 93 starts and earnings of $104,588.