By Bill Finley
OCEANPORT, N.J.–The New Jersey Racing Commission has accepted a recommendation from the Monmouth stewards that the fines for trainer Jorge Navarro and owner Randal Gindi be increased for their behavior caught on video following an Aug. 4 win by Navarro’s brother Marcial Navarro in a race at Gulfstream. However, the commission did not revoke Navarro’s license or suspend him, which will likely make it easier for him to be cleared to race in the many states in which he regularly competes.
The stewards originally fined the pair $5,000 each, the maximum dollar amount they are allowed to penalize someone. They recommended to the commission that Navarro’s fine be increased to $10,000 and Gindi’s to $20,000, which was accepted at Wednesday’s regularly scheduled commission meeting at Monmouth Park.
Collecting the $20,000 from Gindi may prove difficult as Navarro said the owner has informed him that he is leaving the sport and will sell off all of his horses. Efforts to reach Gindi Wednesday were unsuccessful.
The incident took place while Gindi and Navarro watched a victory via the simulcast feed of the horse Sir Sebastian (Discreet Cat). Gindi makes comments that suggest he made a large bet on the winner through bookmakers and while rejoicing says, “That’s the juice. That’s the vegetable juice.”
Navarro can be heard saying “We f – – k everyone.”
Before announcing their decision, the commissioners replayed the infamous video
Gindi did not attend the hearing.
Accompanied by his lawyer, Brad Beilly, who is based in Florida, a chastened Navarro addressed the commission before the outcome was announced and apologized.
“I can promise you guys is that I will never, never do something like that again in my life,” he said.
Afterward, Navarro repeated the same theme, that he was deeply sorry for how he had acted.
“It was my fault,” he said. “Who else am I going to blame? I was in the room. That wasn’t the best way to behave. It has taken a toll. I’m not hiding and saying it wasn’t me. Was that the right way to act? No. This is home. I should not be doing this at home. I am ashamed. I am broken. What else can I say?”
He said he would not appeal the decision.
“I have no problem with that,” he answered when asked about being fined $10,000. “I am the leading trainer here. They are 100% right. I should not have used that kind of language. No matter how much people want to punch at me or get me upset I should not be doing that.”
The commission could have come down harder on Navarro and Gindi, but Frank Zanzuccki, the Executive Director of the New Jersey Racing Commission, said the commissioners felt that penalty was appropriate.
“The commissioners have the authority, the ability to increase or decrease the recommendations as proposed by the stewards,” he said. “They chose to uphold and approve the recommendation as submitted. They felt that a fine, an increased fine, for the conduct displayed was warranted in this case and not days.”
Zanzuccki acknowledged that collecting the $20,000 from Gindi could prove to be a problem.
“If somebody is no longer involved in sport the leverage a racing commission has against that individual is diminished because they are not racing,” he said. “The commission could seek to collect the fine through the courts and pursue that individual that way.”
Since the video surfaced, Navarro had been in a holding pattern. New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York were among the states to accept his entries or confirm that he could continue to race within the jurisdiction. But Laurel and Indiana Downs have not accepted entries from him. That Laurel would not let him race also raises the question as to whether or not he will be permitted to compete at Gulfstream since both tracks are owned by The Stronach Group.
Beilly said he will now reach out to several racing commissions and racetracks seeking assurances that they will accept entries from Navarro. That his client was merely fined will likely make his job easier.
“This is what everyone was waiting, for the case to be closed,” Navarro said. “Now my attorney is going to do his job. He is going to start calling people. The main thing is people thought I was going to get days or my license was going to be revoked. They wanted to see what was going on and I don’t blame them.”