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.

Bobby Lillis More than 1 year ago
There are probably worst riders (as young as they are) riding everyday, everywhere. If he is capable and the majority of Sulfolk jockey colony seems to be OK with it "Let him ride"
TEDK215 More than 1 year ago
isnt it amazing how horses are retiring at 3 now and this old timer still wants to give it a go at 76? if this dont inspire Pletcher and Baffert and the greedy owners to run their 3 yr olds a little longer....................forgetaboutit!
DrSmoke120 More than 1 year ago
Let him ride from the red tees
Todd Elliot More than 1 year ago
There are alot of guys his age and older still riding their wives so why not a horse?
Patricia Doyle More than 1 year ago
Maybe he would like to change over to harness racing and run the fair circuits. Lots of older men riding sulky.
Perl More than 1 year ago
I'd like to adjust some comments I made earlier. I do think that if the guy is deemed a danger to the horses and the other jockeys in the race, then Suffolk has the right to deny him the right to ride. In general, I like the idea of old dudes refusing to fade into obscurity and a part of me admires Frank for his unwillingness to back down (triumph of the human spirit and whatnot), but I suspect that he will lose his lawsuit and maybe that is for the best.
Pat Lyons More than 1 year ago
give him a chance to make history ..he is history
Jenna Smith More than 1 year ago
Amonte has had his chances to make history. See my replies to Mikey below. It's obvious you haven't seen him ride recently. Liability concerns and warm fuzzy feelings aside, how would you feel if Amonte made a mistake in a race that cost a talented, established professional, or a promising young rider, his or her career? There's a reason the judges take a hard look at replays from every angle during inquiries and accidents, and fine riders for serious infractions. Amonte isn't out there alone.
Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
There are enough bad jockeys out there already who make races completely un predictable,come on folks this isn't an amature sport ,people are betting real money.others can get paralysed or die on the track,horses can get injured.the last thing we need is a bad jock riding at 76 years of age it's unfair to all involved.as for the person who posted that he has run second on a few occasions I'll remind you that that was at northampton fair.its also obvious that you have not seen him ride.about 10 to 20 % all jockeys at any track are subpar and are should not have licenses it has nothing to do with age.
1971 Whippet More than 1 year ago
What's wrong with us? "Let him ride!!" is seen in a few of these posts....why don't we just stand him in the middle of 93 at rush hour? Horse racing needs this kind of a sideshow? And Suffolk will have to defend itself against (what)?
Jenna Smith More than 1 year ago
I worked at Suffolk Downs and was there one morning two years ago when Amonte's horse dumped him while he was mounting for morning exercise. Not an uncommon incident for Amonte, but this time he left in the ambulance and was out for a while, thank goodness. I saw him ride at Northampton, too, and that was scary enough 7 years ago with every other rider on the track watching to make sure he didn't fall off his horse. Amonte is a hazard not only to himself, but to the horses he rides and to everyone riding against him. Ask any jockey - you have to trust the other riders to do their share to stay out of trouble. It's an ill-kept secret at Suffolk Downs that there are some terrific jockeys, some experienced and some new to the sport; some workmanlike jockeys who can get around; and a handful of truly awful jockeys who can be dangerous, especially when several are in the same race. Amonte falls into that last category.
mikey More than 1 year ago
Card a cheap race and scratch all but 2.Just let other sport's he will get his record and ride off into the sunset.
Jenna Smith More than 1 year ago
Mikey, word on the street is that was what was done at N'hampton in 2005, as an early birthday gift. Amonte isn't satisfied partly because the very next day - his 70th birthday - he failed to become the first 70-something-year-old rider to win a race. At least two others have gone on to win races in their 70s, so Amonte wants the title of oldest to ever win a race. It's pure ego.