September has been a busy month for the buzzers.
On September 15, the Monmouth Park board of directors suspended jockey Tomas Mejia for 10 years and fined him $ 5,000 for possession of an electrical device – commonly known as a “buzzer” – during a race. which took place there on September 3.
On the same day at Indiana Grand, senior Quarter Horse jockey Sammy Mendez was “summarily suspended for actions not in the best interests of the race,” and awaits a full hearing before the board of directors of the race. track. According to Paulick Report, the suspension is linked to the use of an illegal electrical device.
Citing these two cases, The Stronach Group – under its nickname 1 / ST – circulated a note at the end of September among race offices and company vets warning that such devices are “illegal and will not be tolerated” in races, training or on-site at any TSG facility.
“Any exercise rider, jockey or rider who uses any type of electrical device on a horse will be banned from all 1 / ST racing and training facilities and will be immediately escorted off the premises,” Aidan Butler wrote, the director of the company. Chairman and CEO.
The memo then circulated among Californian riders.
Butler explained in the memo that this happened after consulting with the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, the Thoroughbred Owners of California, the California Thoroughbred Trainers and the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent Protection Association.
“I ask each of you and your track employees (eg, outriders, etc.) to be vigilant during training and racing by monitoring these devices. If anyone observes horses acting in unusual ways, such as a tail signal among other behaviors, please contact the exercise rider / jockey immediately, ”Butler wrote in the memo. “Enough is enough.”
Training and racing facilities owned by the Stronach Group in California include Santa Anita, Golden Gate Fields, and San Luis Rey Downs. In Florida: Gulfstream Park, Gulfstream Park West and Palm Meadows Training Center. And in Maryland: Laurel Park, Pimlico, Rosecroft Raceway and the Bowie Training Center.
The California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) already bans the use of electrical devices such as buzzers – used to shock horses to go faster – at “recognized” meetings in the state.
Part of the rule relating to “possession of contraband” states: “No one shall have in his possession on the premises during a recognized meeting a stimulating device or electric shock commonly called a battery, or any stimulating device. mechanical, or any other device, which could affect a horse’s speed or actions.
According to CHRB spokesperson Mike Marten, in about 40 years no California jockey has been convicted of using an electronic device in a race. Rather, the relevant cases concerned the possession – or alleged possession – of such a device.
Wednesday, the RTD asked the CHRB for any recent rulings against licensees suspected of breaking this rule.
“To the best of our knowledge,” the following is correct, said Marten, who explained that this was not a complete overview of these cases due to the time allotted to compile the list and the accuracy of agency records.
The agency’s database shows jockey Carlos Bautista was suspended for a year – between July 2007 and July 2008 – after he was suspected of possessing an electronic device at Fairplex Park in September 2006.
Pony Jose Barajas was summarily suspended for failing to appear before the Golden Gate Fields board in November 2012, on suspicion of possession of electronic “contraband”.
In 2018, jockey / valet Pablo Fernandez-Macias was summarily suspended – and his case referred to CHRB – having failed to appear before the board of directors of the Los Angeles County Fair Meet in Los Alamitos, yet another times for alleged possession of contraband. “
On or around March 1 of last year, jockey Cesar Franco was summarily suspended after a buzzer was found in his car in Los Alamitos.