Mountaineer Jock Fined for Exceeding Six Strikes and 'Failure to Give Best Effort' in Same Race

Jose A. Leon | Coady


In what could be the first dual penalization of its kind, the stewards at Mountaineer Park have fined jockey Jose A. Leon for going over the six-strike whipping limit and also for “failure to give best effort” in the same 4 1/2-furlong sprint.

Both alleged infractions occurred in an extremely narrow time frame during the stretch run of the second race on May 14.

Leon, a 25-year-old who has been licensed since 2018, was aboard the 0-for-9 maiden Keto Friendly (Mastery), an 8-1 filly racing against males, who vied for the lead straight from the gate while widest in a four-way duel.

Turning for home, Leon employed left-handed stick work between the three-sixteenths pole and the furlong marker, then briefly switched to right-handed whipping.

Around the sixteenth pole, Leon looked back and to his right, then visibly geared down his riding.

Based on the replay, Keto Friendly did not appear able to catch the three horses in front of her, the closest of whom finished 3 1/2 lengths ahead at the wire. Keto Friendly ended up fourth, a half-length in front of the fifth-place finisher.

The stewards imposed two separate $100 fines upon Leon, one for being over the six-strike whipping limit and another after determining “that Mr. Leon stood up strides before the wire” in violation of the West Virginia racing rule that states, “A jockey shall not ease up or coast to the finish, without reasonable cause, even if the horse has no apparent chance to win prize money.”

Later on the same program, Leon was penalized with another $100 fine for again going over the six-strike limit, this time in the eighth race on the 67-1 shot Angelus Diamond (Gormley), who trailed in eighth for much of a 5 1/2-furlong sprint before crossing the wire seventh.

It was unclear at deadline for this story if Leon planned to appeal his penalties.

Leon was in the news for a separate whip-related penalty last summer.

The Mountaineer stewards fined him $100 after other licensees who were on horseback during training hours on Sept. 10, 2023 testified that Leon dismounted from an unruly horse and struck it across the face with his whip. In an interview at that time with TDN, Leon denied the allegation, although he did admit that he had been “frustrated.”

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