Melancon Arrested On Evangeline 'Buzzer' Charge

Gerard Melancon being celebrated for his 5,000th winCoady Photography


Jockey Gerard Melancon, a mainstay atop the riding standings in his home state of Louisiana, was arrested Aug. 26 on a charge related to the alleged possession of an electrical shocking device after Evangeline Downs stewards reported an “incident” to state police.

Ray Paulick of Paulick Report had the scoop in a Tuesday story. He cited confirmations of the “unnatural stimulation of horses” arrest from the St. Landry Parish sheriff's office, the clerk of the parish court, and the Louisiana State Police. But details were scant because of an “ongoing investigation.”

TDN attempted to contact the St. Landry Parish district attorney to find out about a court date, and whether Melancon had retained a lawyer, but had no luck reaching anyone who would comment prior to deadline for this story. Melancon himself could also not be reached for his side of the story.

The St. Landry Parish clerk of court told the Paulick Report that the 55-year-old Melancon was released on a $20,000 bail bond.
Charles Gardiner, the executive director of the Louisiana State Racing Commission, told the Paulick Report that the state police and Evangeline stewards will conduct separate investigations. But, he added, a complicating factor in the stewards' investigation is that the Evangeline race meet has ended and the stewards are not considered to be on the job 48 hours after a meet ends.

Melancon went 0-for-4 riding at Evangeline last Wednesday, Aug. 24. He was named there on mounts Thursday and Friday but did not ride either card. The day following his arrest, Melancon rode the closing-day Evangeline card Aug. 27, then rode at Louisiana Downs Aug. 28. He is named to ride at Louisiana Downs Sept. 4, 5, and 6.

Melancon has won 5,079 races from 32,444 mounts dating to 1984. In June of 2021, when profiled in the Rayne-Acadian Tribune for winning his 5,000th race, Melancon acknowledged issues in his 20s with alcohol and cocaine that nearly derailed his life and riding career. But he said he quit abusing substances in 1989 and has claimed sobriety as a recovering addict ever since.
Prior to that, Melancon's name had surfaced two alleged Louisiana race-fixing scandals.

In 1986, Melancon was named as an “unindicted co-conspirator” in the investigation of an allegedly fixed Fair Grounds race in which he purportedly received $500 from another jockey to hold back his horse. Published news accounts at the time stated that Melancon had testified before a grand jury against the fellow riders who ended up being indicted.

In April of 1987, after jockey Bryan Jenkins was allegedly caught with an illegal shocking device at Evangeline, he testified at a racing commission hearing that Melancon had handed the device to him after obtaining it from a pony person, according to coverage of the incident in the Shreveport Times.

Even though he was never indicted in either case, citing the race-fixing allegations, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission refused to license him to ride in the 1992 GI Kentucky Derby.

In 2021, Melancon was named as a finalist for the Mike Venezia Memorial Award, which the New York Racing Association awards to a jockey who displays extraordinary sportsmanship and citizenship.

This summer, on June 29, Melancon joined a federal lawsuit in which two states, the Jockeys' Guild, and various Louisiana-based “covered persons” under the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (HISA) are trying to get HISA derailed on alleged non-constitutionality grounds and for alleged non-compliance with federal rulemaking procedures.

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