Sanchez Bet Heavily, And Sometimes Against Himself

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Mychel Sanchez | Sarah Andrew

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When it was revealed that jockey Mychel Sanchez had gone on a betting spree that included wagers where he bet against the horses he was riding, his attorney Alan Pincus argued that this was not a matter of race fixing. Rather, Pincus said, Sanchez had turned to gambling as an outlet to combat his depression, let things spin out of control and in all cases did his best to win, even when it meant he might beat a horse he had bet on.

“He was just doing something crazy that only a psychiatrist can explain,” Pincus said in January.

The TDN, through a Freedom of Information Law request, has acquired the records of Sanchez's betting activity that were reviewed by the Pennsylvania Racing Commission. In some respects, they lend credence to the lawyer's argument. The betting log covers the period of Dec. 23 of last year through Jan. 3, during which time Sanchez placed 104 bets on his TVG account. From those 104, there were only six races in which he made significant bets against himself. He bet on his own mount seven times. All other wagers were made on races in which he did not have a mount.

In most states, jockeys are not prohibited from betting on races in which they don't ride or on betting on their own mounts.

Nonetheless, a jockey betting against himself, no matter how few times it happened, is a serious offense that brings the integrity of those races into question. Did Sanchez, in fact, do his very best to win or was he more interested in cashing his bets, one of which was for $4,380? Only he knows for sure.

These are the six races in which Sanchez made significant bets on a horse other than the one he rode. They are:

 

(*) Dec. 26th, 8th at Laurel: Sanchez bet $2,190 to win and place on 6-5 favorite Cordmaker (Curlin) in the Robert Manfuso S. Cordmaker won, giving Sanchez a profit of $3,066. His mount, Alwaysmining, (Stay Thirsty) finished last at 13-1.

 

(*) Dec. 28, 7th at Parx: Sanchez bet $100 to win, place and show on 4-1 shot Miss Mosaic (Verrazano) in the Mrs. Claus S. Sanchez won the race aboard 18-1 Jakarta (Bustin Stones), beating Miss Mosaic, who finished second. Sanchez's share of the purse was $5,520. Had Miss Mosaic won he would have won about $800 on his bets.

 

(*) Dec. 29, 6th at Parx: Sanchez bet $200 to win, place and show on Six Cider (Medaglia d'Oro) and $25 to win, place and show on Double the Heart (Alternation). Both horses finished out of the money. He rode 52-1 shot Dangerfield (Into Mischief), who finished last.

 

(*) Dec. 31, 6th at Laurel: Sanchez bet $100 to win, place and show on I Can Run (Tourist), who finished fourth. His mount, Ocean Tide (More Than Ready), was last.

 

(*) Jan. 2, 5th at Laurel: Sanchez bet $1,000 win and place on 7-2 shot Bear Force Won (Bandbox), who won the race. Sanchez's profit on the bet was $4,900. His mount, the 2-1 shot Satchel de Ritches (Country Day), finished fourth.

 

(*) Jan. 3, 3rd at Parx: Sanchez bet $500 to win, place and show on Iova (lea), who finished second. He made a profit of $1,000 on the race. His mount, The Biggest One (Gone Astray), finished third at 9-2.

From those six races, Sanchez made a profit of $8,171.

In addition, Sanchez bet $864 on the Pick Five Dec. 29 at Parx and hit the bet, which paid $7,875. He did not include his mount in the first leg, the 52-1 shot Dangerfield, on his ticket. Sanchez rode the winner of the final leg, 12-1 shot No Fooling Dude (Orientate).

Pincus said that Sanchez was not gambling regularly until opening up a TVG account late last year. He did so under his own name and a TVG employee alerted the Pennsylvania Racing Commission after noticing that Sanchez was betting against himself. His betting was more or less in control at the start. On Dec. 23, a day in which he did not ride, he started off with a $100 win and place bet at Gulfstream and followed that with a $50 win bet and a $15 win and place bet, also on races at Gulfstream. But as the day wore on he began to bet larger amounts. He switched his betting to Turfway Park and in two races bet $1,000 to win, place and show on a horse. Both horses finished out of the money.

Racing took a break for the Christmas holiday and Sanchez did not wager again until Dec. 26, betting on Laurel, where he rode.  He made his first bet in the second race, in which he did not have a mount. He bet $1000 win, place and show on 3-1 shot Beneath the Stars (Connect), who finished second. In the third race, he bet on himself, wagering $1,000 to win, place and show on 7-2 shot Last Romance (Tapiture), who finished second.

After betting on two more races in which he didn't have a mount, he crossed the line for the first time, making the $2,190 win and place bet on Cordmaker. His mount, Alwaysmining, went to the front and led for the first half-mile before tiring. The footnote for the race reads: “Alwaysmining rushed up between foes and then dropped in to take the early lead, was pressured from his outside, ceded command around the far turn and faltered.”

A clear betting pattern was emerging. While Sanchez made an occasional multi-race wager, the majority of his bets were either to win and place or to win, place and show. And he was betting heavily. Sanchez would routinely bet $1,000 or more to win, place and show on a horse. On the Dec. 27th, he made a $2,000 win, place and show bet on a race at Laurel, betting on his mount, Johnny Sack (Mosler). On the largest bet he made during the period in question, he lost all $6,000 as Johnny Sack finished sixth.

On Dec. 30, while he was riding at Laurel, he bet $5,000 to win on 11-10 favorite Palace Magic (Palace Malice) in the ninth race at the Fair Grounds. Palace Magic finished second.

On Jan. 3, Sanchez rode at Parx, where he made just three wagers, two $500 win and place bets and a $400 Pick 5 ticket. From a gambling perspective, he was having a good day, winning $3,200 on his two straight bets. But Sanchez stopped abruptly and did not bet any other races on the card. It is not clear what motivated him to stop.

Throughout the betting binge, Sanchez bet a total of $129,212 and lost more than $18,000.

Based on the time stamp on his bets, Sanchez was placing them, on the days when he rode, from the track between races when he would have been in the jockey's room. In many countries, jockeys are not allowed to take communication devices into the jockey's room.

On Jan. 10, Sanchez appeared at a hearing before the Pennsylvania Racing Commission Board of Stewards and was suspended for 60 days and ordered to complete an accredited program for gambling addiction. Pincus said at the time that Sanchez had also sought treatment to deal with his depression.

The Maryland Racing Commission took no action against Sanchez at the time he was suspended in Pennsylvania. Michael Hopkins, the executive director of the Maryland Racing Commission, told Pat Cummings of the Thoroughbred Idea Foundation that the matter is closed and the commission has no plans to take action against Sanchez. On Jan. 21, after learning of the allegations against Sanchez, 1/ST Racing, the owners of Laurel, took the jockey off all his mounts that day and banned him for an indefinite period. At time of deadline for this story, the TDN was unable to confirm whether or not Sanchez will be cleared to ride by 1/ST officials after his Pennsylvania suspension has been served.

Sanchez rode at Aqueduct on Jan. 1, but did not bet against any of his own mounts that day.

Though there are no established guidelines for the length of a suspension when a jockey is caught betting against himself, that Sanchez only got 60 days suggests that the Pennsylvania Racing Commission believed that he was not fixing races and that it was sympathetic to his assertion that depression played a role in his betting frenzy.

“He just did something because of a mental problem,” Pincus said in January. “People are responsible for their own actions, but he has to be viewed with sympathy.”

Sanchez's suspension ends March 21.

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