01/30/2004 12:00AM

Beasley seized at track on sexual assault charge

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Jeremy Beasley, the leading rider at Sam Houston Race Park, was taken into custody at the track on Thursday night and charged with sexual assault of a child between the ages of 14 and 16, according to the police. He posted bond and was expected to ride Friday night at Sam Houston.

Beasley, 24, pleaded not guilty during an arraignment, and a preliminary hearing has been set for Feb. 2 in Harris County, according to detective Kenneth Hickey of the Humble, Texas, police. Beasley did not return a call on Friday.

Sexual assault involving a child is a second-degree felony in Texas.

Beasley had won 73 races at Sam Houston through Wednesday, 28 more than the second-leading rider, Roman Chapa. Chapa is now based at Oaklawn.

Beasley, a native of Houston, got his start riding after working as a paddock custodian at Sam Houston. He won his first race at Lone Star Park in 1998, and after leading the standings at Sam Houston later in the year moved his tack to New York.

He returned to ride full time in Texas last year, and won the Retama Park title in October. Beasley, married with two children, recently purchased a home in Houston.