(MCT) ST. LOUIS — Racing officials are investigating the result of the second race at Fairmount Park last Tuesday to determine whether the jockeys were trying to let 70-year-old R.A. "Cowboy" Jones become the first known rider to win a thoroughbred race in seven different decades.
Illinois state stewards James Lages and Patrick Bovenzi have met with most of the jockeys and trainers involved, although Bovenzi said there were still "a couple we have to talk to."
Riders in the race, in addition to Jones, were Uriel Lopez, John Lejeune, Jorge Collazo Jr., Mike Kenny and Aymara Rivero, while the trainers were Jerry Hammond, Michelle Booker, Steve Fridley, Gene Allen, Dennis Hughes and John Wiese.
Lopez won the race aboard Ola D., who is trained by Hammond, after rallying at the top of the stretch to defeat Jones and his mount, My Kentucky Breeze, which is trained by Fridley.
"Everything is still under review," Bovenzi said Saturday night. "It's still in its investigatory stage. It's too premature."
Jones, breaking from the No. 3 post, sat third for most of the one-mile, $5,000 maiden-claiming race while Ola D. was fifth. When the six-horse field was midway through the final turn, Jones put My Kentucky Breeze in the lead, with Ola D. running wide.
My Kentucky Breeze looked like a winner, especially because Lopez and Ola D. "blew the turn" and went far wide on the track.
But with less than a furlong to go, Lopez regained momentum and rallied past My Kentucky Breeze to win going away by 1 } lengths. Magnificent Mandy, ridden by Lejeune and trained by Allen, was third.
What caught the eye of the stewards, and video replay confirmed, were the rides given by Lopez and Lejeune. Once Lopez gathered his horse up, he never hit the horse with his whip in the stretch and, with about 70 yards to go, looked over to the left to see where Jones was as Lopez went by.
Lejeune, who was neck and neck with My Kentucky Breeze at the top of the stretch, never hit his horse with his whip and faded tor third. The other horses finished far back.