By Bill Finley
The Monmouth Park stewards have handed jockey Flavien Prat a seven-day suspension for his ride aboard Hot Rod Charlie (Oxbow) in the July 17 GI TVG.com Haskell S. The ruling was issued Sunday, three days after the stewards granted Prat a hearing.
The suspension runs from Sept. 7 through Sept. 13. The timing may not be a coincidence, as the suspension starts the day after the Del Mar meet closes. California racing then shift to Los Alamitos, where Prat doesn't normally ride on a regular basis. It will, however, keep Prat from riding the full meet at Kentucky Downs, which runs from Sept. 5 through 12.
The New Jersey Racing Commission prohibits its stewards from speaking to the press.
Via text, Prat said he will not appeal.
“Not much to comment. I will take the days and move on,” he texted.
The Haskell will go down as one of the more controversial races run this year. Prat positioned Hot Rod Charlie outside of Midnight Bourbon (Tiznow) and Mandaloun (Into Mischief) in deep stretch. Hot Rod Charlie appeared to come over two or three paths in the stretch and impede Midnight Bourbon, who fell. Neither Midnight Bourbon nor his jockey, Paco Lopez, was seriously injured.
Hot Rod Charlie, who crossed the wire a nose in front of Mandaloun, was disqualified and place last. Mandaloun, who may yet be declared the official winner of this year's GI Kentucky Derby, was awarded the Haskell victory.
The spill gave critics of the New Jersey Racing Commission's whip ban plenty of ammunition as those opposed to the rule argued that had Prat used his whip, the spill would not have happened.
In the official ruling, the stewards stated that “…Prat failed to make a reasonable effort to keep his horse from drifting in past the 1/8th pole, allowing his horse to cross in front of #6 Midnight Bourbon, which resulted in Midnight Bourbon clipping heels with Hot Rod Charlie, causing Midnight Bourbon to stumble badly, unseating his rider.”
The ruling cited racing regulations under the category of “crossing and weaving.” It reads: “When clear, a horse may be taken to any part of the course but no horse shall cross over or weave in front of other horses in such a way to impede them or constitute or cause interference or intimidation.”