By Bill Finley
Mychel Sanchez's 60-day suspension for betting against himself is about to end, but that doesn't mean the jockey will be back in action any time soon. After being suspended for 60 days by the Pennsylvania Racing Commission, Sanchez is eligible to ride Tuesday, but Parx management did not allow trainers to name him on horses on Wednesday when entries were taken for next Tuesday's card.
“We tried to name him on horses for Tuesday after his suspension ends and they would not accept anyone naming him on a horse,” said Sanchez's attorney Alan Pincus.
Pincus added that he was not given any indication as to how long the ban from Parx would be in place.
Joe Wilson, Parx's chief operating officer, did not return a phone call Wednesday seeking comment and clarification.
Sanchez's status in Maryland is up in the air. After it was reported that Sanchez had placed bets against himself, The Stronach Group (TSG), which operates Laurel, announced that it would not allow Sanchez to ride at its tracks. Aidan Butler, TSG's chief operating answer, said via text that a final decision on Sanchez's status has yet to be reached. The first day Sanchez could possibly ride at Laurel is Mar. 25.
“No decision has been made yet,” Butler wrote. “I want my management to speak to him before any decision is made. It's a pretty serious deal.”
Sanchez was suspended in January after it was discovered that his recent betting activity, which included wagers of as much as $6,000 a race, included, during a brief period that started last December, at least six instances in which he bet on a horse going up against his own mount. The bets were placed in races at Parx and at Laurel and the racing commissions in both states suspended him for 60 days and ordered him to seek counseling for a gambling problem. The suspensions ran concurrently.
Ordinarily, a jockey would likely receive a suspension of well more than two months if caught betting against himself. But Pincus successfully argued that Sanchez was not trying to fix races and instead went on a gambling spree as a means to deal with his depression.
Pincus said that under Pennsylvania rules anyone barred at a track is entitled to a hearing, which he has requested.
“Obviously, Mychel is disappointed,” he said. “We went before two sets of impartial stewards [at Parx and at Laurel] who decided the penalty should be a total of two months. We trust their judgment. They are the only ones who have heard the actual facts of the case. We are eager to be able to explain the situation to the commission.”