03/10/2010 1:00AM

Arroyo guilty plea includes sentencing option


Jockey Norberto Arroyo Jr. could serve six months in a military-like correction facility after reaching a plea agreement with prosecutors in upstate New York regarding a drug possession charge from last summer in Saratoga.

According to a report in The Albany Times-Union, Arroyo on March 5 pleaded guilty to a fifth-degree possession of a controlled substance - a lesser charge than originally filed - for which he could receive 2 1/2 years in prison. The paper said that Judge Jerry Scarano could recommend Arroyo to serve six months in the state's shock incarceration program. According to a source with knowledge of that program, it is similar to a military boot camp, with regimented rules.

On Aug. 16, Arroyo was pulled over by Saratoga police for driving erratically. He was allegedly found to have had 11 grams of cocaine in his possession. Arroyo had been riding at the Saratoga meet and even won a race the previous day. In 2000, Arroyo was the leading rider on the New York Racing Association circuit with 188 winners.

Arroyo told the Times-Union that following his sentence, he would like to apply for a jockey's license. A New York State Racing and Wagering Board official, however, said it is not definite that he would receive one.

"It's very likely the board would take a close look at his entire record," said Joe Mahoney, a board spokesman. "Chairman [John] Sabini generally takes a dim view of anybody given multiple chances to get his act together and squandered those opportunities, but every case is different."

Arroyo has been in trouble with the law before, including serving 39 days in jail in early 2003 for assaulting someone at a pool hall the night of the 2002 Belmont Stakes.