Monmouth Park stewards have fined both owner Randal Gindi and trainer Jorge Navarro $5,000 for conduct "extremely detrimental to racing"—behavior documented in a Youtube video—and have requested that the state regulator increase the fine for both men.
The video shows Gindi and Navarro watching a race at the Monmouth sports bar Aug. 4 with Gindi becoming vocal as the race concludes. Gindi said they were watching a horse trained by Navarro's brother, Marcial Navarro, reach the wire first in the final race that day at Gulfstream Park. Gindi yells, "The Juice Man," and later says, "That's the way we do it. We (expletive) everyone."
In the ruling, the stewards levied $5,000 fines for each man—the maximum the stewards can issue in New Jersey—but they recommended the New Jersey Racing Commission increase the fine for Gindi to $20,000 and Navarro to $10,000. NJRC executive director Frank Zanzuccki said the commission will consider the recommendations at its Sept. 20 meeting.
"It's important to address this type of conduct because of the negative effect it has on the entire industry," Zanzuccki said.
Gindi said his comments were directed at a horseplayer seated nearby who he had argued with three months earlier. The 50-year-old owner from Brooklyn, N.Y. said he regrets his behavior, will accept the fine, and has learned a lesson. Navarro said he regrets his actions and was embarrassed when he saw his behavior on video.
"Monmouth Park has done nothing but good things to me. I'm the leading trainer of the place and it was an embarrassment to me when I saw that video. As far as the fine, I believe they're right. I'm the leading trainer there and I should not be acting this way," Navarro said. "It's an embarrassment to me, to horseplayers, to my family, my owners, and my fellow trainers to be acting that way. I want to apologize to all of them."
Navarro has enjoyed plenty of on-track success and had a number of post-race positives. In 2013 the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering suspended Navarro for 60 days for six flunixin positives in 2011-12 at Tampa Bay Downs. Earlier this year, the Florida DPMW called for a formal hearing after one of Navarro's horses tested positive for cocaine. Navarro said Sept. 11 that the cocaine positive was caused by contamination and the case was still being resolved.
Navarro set the wins record at Monmouth last season, winning 59 races. This year he shattered that record with 65 wins as he won at a 41% rate at the meet that wrapped up Sept. 10. He said when people accuse him of cheating, it only motivates him to try to win more races. But he added that he and Gindi should not have acted the way they did Aug. 4.
"When people call me 'The Juice Man' how do I handle myself? My best answer to people calling me 'The Juice Man,' or 'The Drug Man' is to come back and hit them again; win another race," Navarro said. "That day though, things got out of hand and I have to live with it."
Gindi earned a trip to last year's TwinSpires Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1) with former claimer Delta Bluesman, who won last year's Smile Sprint Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream. The owner provided background on events he said led up to the exchange in the video. He said three months earlier he'd argued with a horseplayer.
"He told me that I drug and juice my horses. I said he was a fatso," Gindi said. "With that, he threw my iPad across the bar. We both had had a couple of drinks."
Gindi said he'd watched the Monmouth races from the grandstand Aug. 4, then ventured to the sports bar where he saw Navarro and joined him to watch the final race from Gulfstream, where Navarro's brother, Marcial Navarro, sent out Sir Sebastian to a clear victory in the final race of the day. While sitting with Navarro, Gindi said he saw the horseplayer he'd had the previous argument with.
"So what I did was really a show to get back at that guy. I didn't even have a dollar on the horse. I've been in the game as an owner for two years, but I still feel like a horseplayer where you can scream those things. You can have fun like that as a horseplayer," Gindi said. "I was trying to get a rise out of the guy.
"I started screaming juice, juice, juice, and at one point I thought about how it might sound so I added vegetable juice. It wasn't even Jorge's horse though. It was his brother's. But I was trying to chide the guy so I said, 'That's another $20,000 in my pocket.' But I didn't bet it, and since I've owned horses, I don't even really bet that much."
Gindi said he wasn't sure who filmed the incident, although he suspects it was the horseplayer or one of his friends. Gindi said he should not have acted like that, especially as a participant in the sport.
"As an owner, it was silly. I do regret it," Gindi said. "It was dumb; I can't bring my level down to these other people. I was trying to enjoy myself, but as an owner I have to have a different decorum."
Click here for the video. Note that the video contains profanity.