By T. D. Thornton
The two jockeys currently ranked second and third for wins this season at Finger Lakes are both facing sanctions for their roles in two separate races last week in which one rider was piloting a long shot that altered course while the other rider was aboard the beaten favorite.
According to a stewards' ruling posted Aug. 8 on the New York State Gaming Commission (NYSGC) website, jockey John Davila, Jr., who has been riding at Finger Lakes since 1983, has been fined $500 “for riding in manner contrary to the best interest of racing” in the first race there Aug. 2.
“Any further similar conduct will result in an increased penalty,” the Finger Lakes stewards wrote in Davila's ruling.
A separate stewards' ruling, also dated Aug. 8, gave a three-day suspension to jockey Keiber Coa, a 12-year veteran, for “careless riding” in the fourth race July 31 at Finger Lakes.
Having waived his right to appeal, Coa will serve his days Aug. 15, 16, and 21.
TDN wanted to find out if Davila has appealed, and learn details about what, specifically, led to his “contrary to the best interest of racing” violation.
Brad Maione, the NYSGC's communications director, responded to a Wednesday email query about the rulings by writing back, “This is all that is publicly available.”
TDN then asked if the NYSGC could provide a stewards' report for the race dates in question, but did not receive a reply prior to deadline for this story. The website for Finger Lakes has a “Stewards' Corner” page, but the reports there have not been updated for one year, since Aug. 10, 2022.
Coa's “careless riding” violation July 31 occurred in a $10,000 claiming sprint over 5 1/2 furlongs in which he attained the lead from the rail under the 11-1 Forward Motion (Mission Impazible). Davila, riding the 9-5 favorite N Y Anthem (War Dancer), pressed the pacemaker from the outside until the top of the stretch.
At the quarter pole Coa came off the rail and edged out while appearing clear in front of Davila's mount, who was already losing touch with the leader. Coa then dropped Forward Motion back to the inside and in front of another rival, Breaking Stones (Congrats), who had to take up while Forward Motion widened to a 2 3/4-length win. The jockey on Breaking Stones claimed foul after finishing third. Davila's mount dead-heated for fourth. There was also a stewards' inquiry, but the results stood.
Davila incurred his “contrary to best interest” infraction two days later in a $28,500 NW2 allowance over 1 mile 70 yards. Riding the 8-1 Juggler (Lord Nelson) from post five, he sent his mount from the gate to contend with the 9-10 favorite Mo Trump (Mo Town), who was piloted by Coa from post six.
The Equibase chart noted that Mo Trump was “forced six wide into the first turn by Juggler,” with announcer Tony Calo commenting in his call that the favorite was “stuck out there in no-man's land.”
Equibase further noted that Davila's mount “appeared to be getting out some” on the backstretch while Coa's favorite got “carried seven wide by the latter at the half mile pole.” Mo Trump finished fifth, while Juggler ran sixth and last. There was no posted stewards' inquiry.