Espinoza to Reluctantly Serve Seven-Day Ban

Jockey Victor Espinoza Wednesday lost a final appeal of a seven-day suspension handed down by Santa Anita stewards in March and will begin serving his days starting with the opening day at Santa Anita program on Sunday.

During the suspension Espinoza will be permitted to ride in designated races, including Sunday's Malibu Stakes (gr. I) on Love of Money and Monday's La Brea, where he'll pilot Bending Strings.

"It's unfortunate," Espinoza said, "because my clients were depending on me."

The suspension is a result of an incident March 27 when Espinoza's mount, Megahertz, was disqualified from first to seventh for causing interference during the running of the Santa Ana Handicap (gr. IIT). Espinoza immediately appealed the ruling to the CHRB, who upheld the stewards' judgement. Espinoza filed a final appeal before an administrative law judge, who also agreed with the stewards. This past week the CHRB again upheld the original ruling.

"They waited until the last minute to tell me," fumed Espinoza's agent, Tony Matos. "It's not only unfair to (Espinoza) it's unfair to the owners and trainers who were counting on us to ride their horses."

Espinoza is expected to return to riding full time on Jan. 3.