04/10/2014 5:28PM

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.

Mickey More than 1 year ago
I hear they are going crazy and making it a $5 fine...doubled to $10 if caught again!...LOL
Kram Hslew More than 1 year ago
George Haines would know. He knows racing, right Frank S.?
Michael Iammarino More than 1 year ago
how About we ban blocking horses and shock wave treatment and just maybe we can keep a few jockeys from being paralyzed or death and horse suffering unneeded break downs.. I have yet to see a horse or jockey die or get hurt because of Lasix.. However I have seen many horses suffer because they did not get Lasix .Come on people its a diuretic medication that helps lower the blood pressure of the horse exerting energy and keeps them in better health state during competition.. It does not help their athletic performance other than preventing bleeding.. But when you block the joints the horse cat feel any pain and the jockey can not tell either if the horse is in distress.. That is when extreme accidents happen and cause extreme effects to human life and equine life.. I know I have ridden over 16000 races and way more in the mornings.. And the worse wrecks and accidents come from blocking horses in the joints or shock wave treatment to close to a race..
Randy Baker More than 1 year ago
Thanks Mike.It's refreshing to hear someone with your experience respond on this or any of the subjects on this site.The recent hot topics concerning the health and well being of the horse have for the most part neglected the other 118 lbs.Catastrophic injuries affect jockeys mentally as well as physically.
Hail No More than 1 year ago
Great posts, Randy and "Oniram" :)
Walter More than 1 year ago
Can you tell us what shock wave is? Thanks
Gordon Linthicum More than 1 year ago
You make sense on everything you said except blocking. It is illegal for a trainer to block the joint of a race horse. Any trainer or vet knows this is one of the easiest things to show in a post race drug test. You better not have anything in that horse's joints at least 72 hours before post time. I personally would only medicate with legal anti-inflammatories that give the horse some relief. These would not block pain. The horse has full sensation and I still get to keep my trainer's license.
BigSkyEquine More than 1 year ago
The administration of the performance enhancing doping agent Lasix is equally abusive to horses. Where Lasix is allowed, horses breakdown 4X more often than where all raceday medications are not allowed in Europe, Asia, and Australia. Lasix is a much more serious and prevalent problem than buzzers, and it is time for the raceday drug to be banned and its use forbidden. It is time for the leaders and regulators to take action to improve the health, safety, and welfare of horses and jockeys by banning the drug.
Juho Isoviita More than 1 year ago
As an European I boycott all US racing as long as raceday medication is allowed. Have no interest in US racing because of drugging horses all the time. Also the breeding in US is very short sighted and produces horses that just break down, not to mention the awful dirt tracks. Turf is the ONLY ground for real racing. Something in the US is very wrong when it comes to racing.
Gordon Linthicum More than 1 year ago
Anyone who thinks Lasix is a "performance enhancing doping agent" is a complete uninformed, ignorant idiot. What is unfair and abusive to horses is letting them bleed and not perform to their best level. I trained horses for many years and considered Lasix a compromise at best. Horses that don't bleed usually run much better without Lasix. Anyone who has taken any diuretic can attest to the fact that it can actually dull you and zap your energy. Furthermore, Lasix has nothing to do with the soundness of the horse. These ridiculous breakdown statistics pointing to Lasix as a major culprit are made by groups of people with an agenda against horse racing and don't have the welfare of the horse in mind at all. I would love to see these people try to get through their lives without medication.
Cover2 More than 1 year ago
Was this directed specifically to the Steve Asmussen barn ?
Bob Fritz More than 1 year ago
Not the Asmussen barn, specifically, but you can bet that it was inspired by the PETA video.
Connie Hampton More than 1 year ago
Also it should be the exact same thing if a horse is found with drugs in post race tests. It would stop all the cheats. Which is every big outfit in the US. This is a fact.
Connie Hampton More than 1 year ago
If a jock has a battery in a race the penalty is simple , it is a federal crime with a sentence of 25 years to life. It is Interstate Wire Fraud/Interfering with the result of a Sporting Event. It falls into the Federal category because the signal is being transmitted across state lines and it is a para mutual event. The racing boards don't need to waste time about what penalties they need to enforce. Once they turn it over to the Feds if the jock is charged they don't get to work until the case is decided. If convicted they loss their license because of a felony. Simple and they don't have to waste any time or limited brain cells talking about what to do.
Ken Wiener More than 1 year ago
Thanks for the informative comment Connie. You are saying such a wire fraud conviction in the U.S. would have a mandatory minimum of 25 years in prison? That would be very tough! I wonder if a jock has ever gone to prison for using a battery? Prison time for a jock might deter others out to cheat the betting public.
Walter More than 1 year ago
No, there have been cases., Richard Strauss at Sportsmans Park in the early 80s got banned, but no criminal charges. Geary Louviere at Balmoral Park in the late 80s, got banned but no criminal charges and Billy Patin at Oaklawn in the late 90s, got a few years but he currently rides, again no criminal charges.
John Nester More than 1 year ago
I hate Patin. I had the horse that ran second to his maiden, Valhol, in the Arkansas Derby. The racing industry cares so much about the fans that they called the race official and paid anyone who bet Valhol, even though they knew he used the buzzer and within minutes found it on the track. They never paid Valhol's owner the purse, but any clown who bet a maiden in the Arkansas derby got paid. Anyone who bet Answer Lively, the horse who got paid the winners purse, got screwed. Cheating people out of their money should be a federal crime with a lifetime suspension. Patin's been back riding for a while now. You can't tell me he's not already doing something else to find an unfair advantage. Once a cheater, always a cheater. If racing had guts they'd move on without clowns like that and their reputation wouldn't be what it is. I love the sport but its hard to trust anyone in it and support it with my hard earned dollars when you know they willing condone cheaters in it.
Boyd Cord More than 1 year ago
Drugs are worse than the buzzer. It's only an electrical whip Enforce Euopean standards on whip use. And why not use the same wands they use at the airports to check the jockey for buzzers?
raymond More than 1 year ago
The use of electrical devices has been an issue for many years. Not all jockeys or any horseman are capable of using these devices effectively. Those who employ this tactic should be tarred and feathered and placed in the spit box face down for a period of no less than one year and a fine of $1,000,000.00.
Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
a lifetime ban and criminal prosecution is the only way to stop this..all the other measures are just smoke and mirrors...one year for carlos bautista is a joke if he had the device in the post parade he intended to use it.he just got caught before ..if any jockey is caught with it on the track he intends to use It period.another angle to consider is this any jockey willing to carry a battery and cheat is probably willing to take a bribe to pull a horse. one more reason to ban him for life.