02/06/2002 12:00AM

Coa case back to stewards


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Jockey Eibar Coa's appeal hearing on his controversial 30-day suspension for rough riding ended Wednesday when the president of Gulfstream Park, Scott Savin, sent the case back to the track stewards for a second hearing.

Coa was suspended for his ride aboard Mr. Livingston in the Ft. Lauderdale Handicap on Jan. 26. At a hearing held the morning after the race, the stewards determined that Coa had interfered with jockey Jerry Bailey aboard Del Mar Show on several occasions and found that his ride was "unnecessarily rough," according to a statement made by Walter Blum, the state steward.

Del Mar Show overcame his eventful trip to win the Ft. Lauderdale, while Mr. Livingston finished a tiring fifth. Coa, tied for leading rider at the time of the incident and currently fourth in the standings, immediately appealed the decision.

Jeff Weiner, an attorney speaking on behalf of Coa at Wednesday's appeal hearing, said the case should be dismissed outright.

"The stewards were in violation of house rules by not giving Mr. Coa written notice of his hearing or ample opportunity to prepare a defense," said Weiner, who also objected to the stewards conducting private discussions with Mott and Bailey regarding the incident.

After a brief discussion with David Romanik, a Gulfstream attorney, Savin, the hearing officer at Wednesday's proceedings, sent the case back to the stewards for an evidentiary hearing to be held within the next 10 days.

Weiner objected to the decision, saying it would be "double jeopardy" for his client to be subjected to a second hearing by the same board of stewards who had already ruled against him.

Weiner said he spoke privately with Romanik after the hearing and proposed an offer to resolve the case before the second hearing.

But Savin said later in the day: "There will be no side deals. The case will go through its due process - a proper stewards' hearing and a subsequent appeal, if Coa desires."