12/22/2014 3:32PM

Baltas, Pedroza engage in physical fight at Los Alamitos

Shigeki Kikkawa
Trainer of Grade 1-winning sprinter Big Macher, Richard Baltas is having the best season of his training career. Through Sunday, his horses had won 42 races and more than $1.9 million from 226 starts.

Simmering acrimony between a prominent trainer and top jockey erupted into fisticuffs on Sunday at Los Alamitos, where trainer Richard Baltas and jockey Martin Pedroza scuffled briefly before being separated by a security guard.

Baltas emerged from the scrap with a swollen nose after Pedroza struck him in the face with his helmet. Baltas claimed that Pedroza instigated the incident; Pedroza said it was Baltas who started the fight.

The incident occurred after the seventh race Sunday, closing day of the Los Alamitos winter meet. Tension between the trainer and jockey had grown after Baltas changed riders on a horse Pedroza had previously ridden to a second-place finish.

Pedroza said he was walking to the jockeys’ room after the seventh race when Baltas motioned to him. “I thought he wanted to talk to me,” Pedroza said. “I walked up to him, he put his chest [up] … and he grabbed me by the neck.”

Pedroza was unable to break free. “I tried to get away from him, and he made it more tight. I couldn’t get away. At that point, I’m getting really mad. So the security guard pulled me away … when he pulled me away, I got my helmet and I hit him in the nose.”

Baltas said Pedroza had taunted his help during the day, after the horse on which Pedroza was replaced finished off the board in the first race. By the end of the day, after race 7, Baltas had heard enough.

“I walked up to [Pedroza] and said, ‘You have something to say, say it to my face.’ And then he pushed me,” Baltas said. “I just grabbed him, put him in a head lock, and then security broke it up. Then he threw his helmet in my face while I was being held.”

Baltas, 53, was wearing a bandage on his swollen nose Monday morning at Santa Anita. Trainer of Grade 1-winning sprinter Big Macher, Baltas is having the best season of his training career. Through Sunday, his horses had won 42 races and more than $1.9 million from 226 starts.

Pedroza, 49, has been among the top 10 riders in Southern California for most of the past two decades. The all-time leading rider at Fairplex Park, Pedroza has been the regular rider for Grade 1 Cigar Mile winner Private Zone.

According to Baltas, stewards plan to take up the matter when they return on Friday, opening day of the winter meet.

chefpepe100 More than 1 year ago
I believe the trainer. Pedroza got hotheaded over being taken off the ride, horse was off the board and Pedroza's mouth pushed the trainer over the top.
M More than 1 year ago
anyone hear the outcome of stewards meeting today?
Kram Hslew More than 1 year ago
Might as well suspend Pedroza he can't ride with the big names at SA
Kram Hslew More than 1 year ago
Pedroza has always been a hot headed little man.
P Davis More than 1 year ago
"Well as long as the horses didn't break all their legs and the jockey thrown to the track trampled like road kill the result stands..it didn't affect the placing of Shared Belief, we expected him to finish 20th and......." Oh, that was the 3 employees of Bob's at Santa Anita. This was Los Alamitos so perhaps the punishment will fit the fight.
tommy More than 1 year ago
tommyLess than a minute ago Wonder if there will be a stewards inquiry?? I wonder who won?? Maybe a dead heat?? Who was the long shot???
priority peeved More than 1 year ago
Proves ONE thing, horses aren't the only ones on DRUGS around the racetrack. Merry Christmast to all, and to all a good FIGHT!
Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
this is what happens when stewards allow things to get out of hand ..the jockeys basically have a license to steal from the public ,the owners and the trainers..and if a trainer takes a jockey off for stiffing his horse then the other jock he gets covers for his mates by stiffing him even worse.the trainer then has to endure taunting from the 1 st jockey.as if to say hey were in charge and you had better fall into line..these little miscreants who would taunt some one who is out there trying to win races should be banned from the sport for life...even if he did nothing wrong in his ridding he should have the class not to retaliate against a trainer that gave him a chance in the first place. I would boycott him riding for me.
Nathan More than 1 year ago
Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
yes it is it speaks to cheating and retaliation for it.
Matthew Linda Jr. More than 1 year ago
Perhaps the Jock was taunting Baltas or he wanted a FREE nose job !!! NO room for that behavior in Thoroughbred racing. Hopefully the HORSE enjoyed the results !!!! Jersey Skip
Kram Hslew More than 1 year ago
ML jr, There is room for everything in this circus called horse racing.