06/12/2003 11:00PM

Court backs NYRA in jockey agent lawsuit

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The New York Supreme Court has dismissed a lawsuit filed by two jockey agents seeking to overturn a New York Racing Association rule limiting agents to one jockey, but the ruling also opened the door to the suit being refiled.

In the June 9 ruling, the judge, Paula J. Omansky, said that stewards at New York Racing Association tracks "have both a legal right and a duty to enforce the single-jockey rule." But Omansky said that the jockey agents could seek to have the rule overturned if they named the New York State Racing and Wagering Board as a party to the suit in order to "attack the legality and scope of the discretionary powers regulation directly."

The agents, Ron Anderson and Angel Cordero, filed the suit last summer claiming that the one-jockey rule was "unconstitutional and invalid" and that it limited their ability to do make a living. Anderson represents Jerry Bailey, and Cordero represents John Velazquez.

It was unclear on Thursday if the agents would refile the suit. Anderson said on Thursday that comments would have to come from the agents' lawyer, John Behrendt, who did not return a phone call on Thursday afternoon.

The rule prohibits a jockey from representing more than one journeyman, but it does allow agents to represent a journeyman and an apprentice. In virtually every other racing jurisdiction, agents are not prohibited from representing more than one journeyman rider.

New York racing officials had argued after the suit was filed that allowing the agents to represent more than one jockey would give the agents the ability to manipulate field size.

NYRA chairman Barry Schwartz said he was pleased that the judge had dismissed the suit, and he characterized the decision as a ruling "in NYRA's favor."