07/20/2001 11:00PM

Arroyo charged with assault


ELMONT, N.Y. - Norberto Arroyo Jr., the winningest rider in New York in 2000, was arrested Friday night in the Bronx along with his father and younger brother. All three were charged with assault in the second degree and were to be arraigned Saturday night, police said.

According to state steward Carmine Donofrio, who spoke to Arroyo's agent, Max Hall, Arroyo, 24, his father, Norberto Arroyo Sr., 45, and his brother Eric, 21, got into an altercation with a cab driver in the Bronx, where Arroyo's uncle owns a business. Further details of the incident were not available. Hall did not return calls seeking comment.

Arroyo, finalist for the Eclipse award for the nation's leading apprentice jockey in 2000, had to take off his seven scheduled mounts on Saturday's card at Belmont Park.

Last Aug. 3 at Saratoga, Arroyo was involved in an altercation with a Pinkerton on the Saratoga backstretch in which punches were thrown. He was fined $500 by the Backstretch Area Violations Panel.

Arroyo was born in Puerto Rico and moved to Boston with his family in 1989. Arroyo's father, Norberto Sr., was a sparring partner with Roberto Duran, the former lightweight champion.

Arroyo came to New York in December 1999 and made an immediate impact. In 2000, he won 188 races on the NYRA circuit, seven more than Aaron Gryder. He finished 26th overall in the national jockey standings with earnings of $6.93 million. From 1,211 mounts, he won 191 races.