04/13/2013 4:42PM

Apple Blossom: Joe Johnson suspended three days for winning ride aboard On Fire Baby

Tom Keyser
Jockey Joe Johnson was suspended three days on Saturday for his winning ride the previous day in the Apple Blossom Handicap.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - A day after winning the first Grade 1 race of his career in the $500,000 Apple Blossom, jockey Joe Johnson was suspended three days by the Oaklawn Park board of stewards for his ride aboard victorious On Fire Baby. The ruling issued Saturday afternoon addresses the run into the first turn of the mile and a sixteenth race that On Fire Baby won wire-to-wire by a half-length, over Tiz Miz Sue.

The ruling cites Johnson for “allowing On Fire Baby to drift toward the inside rail without being clear . . . thereby causing Grace Hall to be checked to keep from clipping the heels of On Fire Baby, which caused Summer Applause to alter her course.”

Grace Hall finished seventh and last as the even-money favorite, and Summer Applause finished fourth. There was no inquiry following the race, nor were any objections filed. The stewards said they held an informal inquiry among themselves before the Apple Blossom was made official.

“If you remember yesterday, it took us a little bit to make it official because we were looking at it pretty closely,” said Stan Bowker, state steward at Oaklawn.

The ruling against Johnson does not change the order of finish nor does it redistribute the purse, according to the stewards.

“The perception is if there’s no inquiry or no objection, then there’s not going to be days," Bowker said. "That isn’t the case. There could be an objection and no days, and there could be no objection and [you] have days, and this is one of those kinds of cases.

“Every race that we run here, we review before the race is made official. We review again after it’s made official, and to determine if whether or not we have to have movies or not.”

Johnson said Saturday that he would not appeal the days. He said he had no further comment on the case. Johnson’s suspension runs April 17-19.