09/28/2014 4:07PM

Espinoza suspended seven days for Awesome Again ride


ARCADIA, Calif. – Jockey Victor Espinoza was suspended seven days by Santa Anita stewards Sunday for causing interference aboard Sky Kingdom in Saturday’s Grade 1 Awesome Again Stakes.

Espinoza was sanctioned for allowing Sky Kingdom to drift wide on the first turn, carrying the 1-5 favorite Shared Belief four wide. The incident was the subject of widespread discussion after the race, which was won by Shared Belief.

Stewards Scott Chaney, Kim Sawyer, and Tom Ward issued a suspension Sunday, citing Espinoza for violation of two rules – jockeys riding “carelessly, or willfully, so as to permit their mount to interfere with or impede any other horse” and a rule pertaining to unsatisfactory rides.
Brian Beach, Espinoza’s agent, said Sunday afternoon that Espinoza may appeal the decision and that the rider would seek legal advice in the next few days.

The suspension is scheduled to begin Saturday and continue for seven racing days through Oct. 13. The ruling does not allow Espinoza to ride in designated races or graded stakes, which are typically exempt from most suspensions. The terms of the ruling would prohibit Espinoza from riding in three graded stakes next Saturday – the $300,000 Santa Anita Sprint Championship, $200,000 City of Hope Mile, or $100,000 L.A. Woman Stakes.

Sky Kingdom, a 36-1 shot, was prominent early in the Awesome Again Stakes over 1 1/8 miles, racing well off the pace around the first turn. Sky Kingdom was the longest shot in the field of seven and faded from contention in the stretch, finishing 22 lengths behind Shared Belief, who raced wide throughout to extend his unbeaten streak to seven races.