Two jockeys who were among the first to be sanctioned for riding crop violations under the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority received stays of their one-day suspensions and fines pending appeals.
Diego Herrera received a one-day suspension, $250 fine and three violation points for striking Wizard of Westwood seven times – one more than the limit under HISA Rule 2280 (page 457 at this link) – in a July 3 race at Los Alamitos in Cypress , Calif. Ryan Curatolo received the same penalties for going one strike over the limit aboard Today Matters at Los Alamitos on July 8. Both are Class 3 violations under Rule 2282.
Both suspensions, issued by California Horse Racing Board stewards applying HISA rules, were to be effective on Del Mar’s opening day, July 22.
According to HISA regulations, a jockey may use the crop a maximum of six times on the hindquarters in increments of two or fewer strikes and must wait at least two strides before additional strikes. The rider may also tap the horse on the shoulder with the crop while both hands are on the neck and holding the kidneys, show or wave the crop to the horse without physical contact, or “use the crop to preserve the safety of horses and riders .”
Class 3 violations are for one to three strikes over the limit; Class 2 four to nine over the limit; and Class 1 ten or more over the limit. Class 2 violations result in $500 minimum fine, three-day suspension and loss of purse to the owner. Class 1 violations result in minimum $750 fine, five-day suspension and loss of purse.
If a jockey compiles multiple violations, suspensions increase according to Rule 2283
Attorney Bing Bush filed appeals on behalf of both riders on July 11, saying Curatolo and Herrera applied the extra strike for “safety purposes.”
Curatolo’s mount “was racing down the stretch when he began to shy and hesitate in a potentially dangerous manner, being afraid of the tire tracks from the starting gate that were engraved in the racing surface,” Bush wrote in the appeal. “To ride safely for the horse, himself, the other horses and jockeys in the race, (Curatolo) used his crop to urge his horse not to hesitate in a potentially dangerous manner, but to continue momentum in a forward direction.”
Herrera’s mount “was veering outwards in a very dangerous manner,” Bush contested in that rider’s appeal. “To ride safely for the horse, himself, the other horses and jockeys in the race, (Herrera) used his crop properly to urge his horse not to veer out in a dangerous manner, but to straighten his path of travel.”
Today Matters won his one-mile maiden claiming race by five lengths under Curatolo after holding a lead of three lengths at the eighth pole, according to the Equibase chart. The gate was placed just outside the sixteenth pole.
Herrera’s mount, Wizard of Westwood, dead-heated for a win with President Z in a five-furlong maiden special weight race for 2-year-olds. The two horses battled throughout, with President Z gaining a narrow advantage at the eighth pole, according to the Equibase chart. The chart footnotes stated that Wizard of Westwood “drifted out a bit near the eighth pole.”
Bush filed the appeals July 11. On July 15, Authority chairman Charles Scheeler signed orders granting the request for stays of the penalties pending appeal.
No date was on the order, but Bush said it was his understanding the appeals would be held the week of Aug. 8. There are different options, according to HISA regulations (page 4029 at this link), on how appeals are heard, including appearance before an Authority-appointed National Stewards Panel.