04/10/2014 6:28PM

California racing board to enact strict penalties for buzzer use

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ARCADIA, Calif. – The California Horse Racing Board announced Thursday that it will enact stringent penalties for riders found using electrical devices in races or workouts, including referring cases to local district attorneys for legal action.

A racing board spokesman said there are no cases pending for possession of an electrical device.

Current racing board regulations do not list specific penalties for stewards to impose in cases other than medication violations. In a directive Thursday, executive director Rick Baedeker told racing board investigators to refer cases of usage of electrical devices to racing commissioners, bypassing hearings by track stewards, “so that the full board may consider and impose the maximum penalty allowable under law.”

A hearing before racing commissioners must be conducted with an administrative law judge present to assist in the hearing. Following such a hearing, racing commissioners would have 100 days to issue a ruling.

One example of a penalty available to the racing board is a lifetime ban from the sport.

The establishment of penalty guidelines for using an electrical device will be developed, the racing board announced.

Outside of penalties issued by racing authorities, California penal code states that a jockey who affects the result of a race through the use of an electrical device could serve a year in jail and be fined up to $5,000.

The most recent case of a California-based jockey found with an electrical device occurred when Quarter Horse jockey Carlos Bautista was suspended for one year for possession at the Los Angeles County Fair in 2006. Bautista was not alleged to have used the device during the race, only to have been in possession during the post parade.

Bautista served the suspension from July 2007 to July 2008 after losing appeals.