Updated on 08/23/2012 1:53PM

Amonte, 76, sues Suffolk for right to ride


Horseman Frank Amonte has sued Suffolk Downs alleging age discrimination after the Boston-area track refused to allow him to ride in races this season.

Amonte, 76, owns and trains horses and won races as a jockey for six decades, most recently in 2005 at the Northampton Fair, which made him the oldest rider to ever win a race at a Thoroughbred track. He’s been unsuccessful since then in a quest to be the only person to win a race in his 70’s, losing 88 races while finishing in the money 12 times.

Amonte’s case will be heard by the Massachusetts Commission on Discrimination with a hearing scheduled for the second week of November. Suffolk’s lawyers are aware of the action and asked for an extension to file their response, which is due next week.

Amonte’s attorney Richard Brunelle calls it unfortunate that the timetable means the case will not get started before the Suffolk season ends.

At the start of this season in June, Amonte was licensed as a jockey and a trainer by the state, but Suffolk officials refused to allow Amonte to ride, claiming in a statement he was welcome as an owner and trainer but would not permit him to race there “in the interest of safety for both horses and jockeys, including Mr. Amonte.”

Amonte last rode in September 2011 – the day after his 76th birthday – and finished second in a $5,000 claiming race aboard Dominating Force, a horse owned and trained at the time by Michael Cimini. Amonte made eight other starts last year on two horses he trained, getting two seconds and two thirds overall, including one race where he fell while pulling up on a sloppy track.

When reached for comment, Amonte said he was tending to an ill family member and referred questions about the case to his attorneys. In his suit, Amonte asserts he has medical clearance to continue to ride and in published reports claims Suffolk is barring him over insurance concerns.

Despite the difficulties of winning in recent years, the suit is the latest example of Amonte’s determination. He once moonlighted as a bus driver and trained to be an optician, but says he has never considered retirement.