Citing the handling or neglect of five horses, including two that died under his care, the Pennsylvania State Horse Racing Commission Bureau of Thoroughbred Horse Racing has revoked the license of owner-trainer Mario Rafael Rodriguez.
In early December stewards at Hollywood Gaming at Penn National Race Course suspended Rodriguez for 45 days for his neglect in treating a horse with a broken leg, Silent Ruler. On Dec. 15 the racing commission extended that suspension to a full year.
On the same day the suspension was lengthened to a year, veterinarian Kate Papp reported that Rodriguez had a horse die in its stall. At that point track officials and racing commission investigators examined every horse in Rodriguez’s barn.
Four days after those exams, the regulator revoked Rodriguez’s licenses, citing the health and safety of injured or neglected horses that included Silent Ruler, You R Wonderful, and Kisses for Love. The commission said the investigation followed the deaths of two Rodriguez-trained horses: Lee's South and Platinum Sensation.
The regulator posted the decision on the license revocation to its web site. It said the investigation included witness statements, veterinarian statements, necropsy reports, and other probative evidence relating to the death of Lee’s South and Platinum Sensation.
"Mario Rodriguez is solely responsible for the condition of those horses," the decision reads. "Mario Rodriguez allowed horses under his care and control to be subjected to mistreatment, neglect, and/or abuse. At all applicable times, trainer/owner Mario Rodriguez failed to provide adequate and appropriate veterinary care necessitating emergency surgical intervention and care for the horses Silent Ruler and You R Wonderful.
"Based upon the above investigation and documentation, the bureau director finds that Mario Rodriguez’s experience and general fitness as a trainer-owner presents a clear and ongoing danger to the remaining number of horses under his control, and his qualifications as a trainer are inconsistent with the best interests of racing. Accordingly, pursuant to the Racing Act, Mario Rafael Rodriguez’ authorization to conduct previously approved activity as an owner-trainer shall immediately cease."
Rodriguez does have 10 days to appeal the decision, a period that will end Dec. 29. The Dec. 19 decision did allow him on the property until Dec. 22 to transfer or remove all of his horses from Penn National.
All five of the horses cited in the commission report were trained by Rodriguez and he owned all of them except for Kisses for Love, who had Milton Rodriguez Jr. listed as owner in his most recent start; and Platinum Sensation, who had Gilberto Rivera listed as owner in her final start.
Silent Ruler won four of 50 starts. After being found with a broken leg at Penn National, he was retired and his ownership was transferred to Pennsylvania Rehoming, Rehabilitation, and Rescue, which was founded by Papp.
You R Wonderful is a maiden who has raced 30 times, most recently finishing fifth in a maiden claiming race Dec. 1 at Penn National.
Kisses for Love has won 13 of 66 starts and most recently placed last of six in a Dec. 13 claiming race at Penn National.
Lee’s South's final race was Nov. 2, when he finished seventh in a claiming race at Penn National. The 9-year-old Leestown gelding won 13 of 84 starts.
Platinum Sensation clipped heels and lost jockey Daniel Feliciano in her final start Nov. 15, a claiming race at Penn National. The 4-year-old Gottcha Gold filly won 2 of 24 starts.