01/25/2008 1:00AM

Fallon suspended 18 months


Jockey Kieren Fallon was given an 18-month suspension by French racing authorities on Friday for his second cocaine offense within a year. The worldwide ban will begin on Feb. 2 and last until Aug, 2, 2009, when the Irish rider will be 44 years old.

Fallon immediately appealed the France-Galop ruling, which was levied against him for having tested positive for cocaine after riding Myboycharlie to victory in the Group 1 Prix Morny at Deauville on Aug. 19. He had previously served a six-month sentence between December 2006 and June 2007 for having tested positive for cocaine metabolites.

More recently, he was exonerated on race-fixing charges in Britain, from where he had been banned from riding since July 2006.

Fallon has not ridden since piloting Dylan Thomas to victory in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe on Oct. 7.

Six times the champion rider in Britain, Fallon is best known in the United States for his winning rides aboard Islington and Ouija Board in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf and Powerscourt in the the Arlington Million.

Fallon's long association with Aidan O'Brien's Ballydoyle yard, where he has been the first-string rider of horses owned by Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor, and Derrick Smith, has provided him with most of the winners that have brought him worldwide fame. That relationship, as well as his storied but checkered career, is now very much in jeopardy.