01/27/2015 2:43PM

Jockey Chapa charged with felony over alleged buzzer use

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Coady Photography/DRF Illustration
Jockey Roman Chapa is accused of using a buzzer to win the Richard King Stakes aboard Quiet Acceleration at Sam Houston Race Park on Jan. 17.

Roman Chapa, the Texas-based jockey who was banned by the Texas Racing Commission on Jan. 19 for allegedly using an electrical device on a horse at Sam Houston Race Park two days earlier, has been charged with a felony by a county district attorney, Texas law enforcement officials said Tuesday.

Chapa, 43, was charged with one count of unlawful influence on racing by the Harris County District Attorney. Texas statutes provide that the charge is a Class A misdemeanor unless “the actor possessed the device or substance with the intent to influence or affect the outcome of a horse or greyhound race,” in which case it is a “state jail felony.”

Chapa was charged after an investigation into the incident conducted by the Texas Department of Public Safety. In a report on the investigation prepared by Jeffrey Green of the Texas DPS, Chapa was said to have contacted Sam Houston’s track photographer, Jack Coady, seeking to get a finish-line photo of the race in question removed from the track’s website. The photo, taken from the rail side of the track rather than the grandstand side, shows what appears to be the bottom of the device in Chapa’s left hand.

Chapa won the Jan. 17 race, the Richard King Stakes, on Quiet Acceleration. The horse is trained and owned by Danny Pish. Green said in his report that Pish, his assistant trainer, the assistant starter for the race, Chapa’s jockey agent, and an outrider all denied knowing that Chapa used a device on the horse in the race.

The report by Green said that Chapa told the investigator in an interview that “the photograph had been Photoshopped and someone was trying to frame him.” Chapa also denied that he used an electrical device during the race and said that he did not contact Coady about the photograph. However, Coady provided his cellphone to the investigator, and the phone contained the text messages from Chapa cited by Coady, Green said in his report.

Chapa was suspended by the Texas Racing Commission after the photo was forwarded to the commission by the Paulick Report, a news website. The jockey has appealed the summary suspension, and a hearing is scheduled for Feb. 9. An official at the commission said on Tuesday that an investigation into the incident remains “ongoing.”

The purse for the Richard King Stakes has not been distributed as officials await official post-race testing results. Once the results are returned, the first-place purse will continue to be withheld until the commission’s investigation is complete, the commission official said.

Chapa has twice been suspended for using a device or illegal object on a horse, according to regulatory records. In 2007, he was banned for five years by the New Mexico Racing Commission for using an electrical device on a Quarter Horse at Sunland Park. In 1994, he was suspended for nine months in Texas for using a nail on a Quarter Horse, presumably to get the horse to run faster.

Last year, Chapa’s name surfaced in a video released by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals in March that alleged that horses trained by Steve Asmussen were mistreated. During the video, employees of Asmussen’s barn can be heard relaying stories of Chapa’s alleged use of electrical devices. Chapa has ridden horses trained by Asmussen’s Texas operation.

Asmussen was recently exonerated of PETA’s charges in a report following an investigation into the allegations by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. The report said that Kentucky investigators reviewed rides of jockeys employed by Asmussen in Kentucky races but could find no substantiation of the riders using electrical devices. The investigators did not review races run in Texas.

During the first two nights of racing at Sam Houston this year, Chapa won with five of his seven mounts.

– additional reporting by Mary Rampellini

Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
Congrats to the Texas dep of public safety for bringing charges against CHAPA. The racing industry just sweeps these incidents under the rug. Or gives out token vacations .sorry suspensions...the problem is that the tracks are run by people who despise gamblers and see their patrons as degenerates. The attitude is that racing fans will bet and keep showing up no matter what as long as they have money to gamble. this attitude is also held by management and employees at OTBs around the country. Then there's the backstretch where they see the bettors the same way trainer MULLINS once called bettors idiots and publicly stated only fools bet on horses .these people think only the owners matter. Then there's the racing media the apologists for the crooked trainers and jockeys in the sport. Who will advocate for a serial doping trainer to not only be given the benefit of the non existent doubt but in some cases to be inducted to the racing hall of fame. They refuse to call attention to atrocious rides. make excuses for bad disqualifications by stewards and generally behave more like an ostrich with their heads in the sand .rather than defend the integrity of the sport.
rahman Williams More than 1 year ago
Rather play 2 keno.
rahman Williams More than 1 year ago
It's sad, but I have bet a lot less then the pass, and have not been following graded stakes the past few months .
rahman Williams More than 1 year ago
No matter how many stories we here hey fool will go out in bed his money on a horse race I'm on my way to the book now.lol
rahman Williams More than 1 year ago
Racing is the Villain of American Sports, people love a good villain that's why it keeps a fan base but it is slowly decreasing day after day.
Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
Ho yes and as for ASSMUSSEN the trainer that drf writers seem to love unconditionally. His name seems associated with a lot of the buzzer boys..so his assistant names the jockeys in the video then they prove the allegations with their past record and new indiscretions. These guy should be elected to 2 halls of shame racing and electricity.
Scott Stevens More than 1 year ago
Why is Brannaman entered in the 4th today at Aqueduct he's obviously broke down god only know's what Jacbson done to him... Shame on you NYRA.
Tony Zag More than 1 year ago
Scratched. Must have seen your post.
mike More than 1 year ago
Are you still crying cause CC won HOTY?????
Scott Stevens More than 1 year ago
Is it a midlife crisis that you became a C.S.
Scott Stevens More than 1 year ago
Hope he breaksdown
Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
Does any one see a pattern here..nail in 1994 (this technique comes after a buzzer is used in training .so as soon as the horse feels the nail on his neck he thinks he is about to get shocked and takes off. 2007 he gets caught with the buzzer during a race. Jump to 2015 and he gets photographed with something in his hand...now lets be realistic this is most likely a serial offender who occasionally gets caught. so here seem to be the facts there is something in his hand and he tried to get rid of the picture. Here is my question why ?.and why after being caught twice was a special camera not focused on his hands through the stretch in every race he participated in or better why was he even allowed back in after stealing from customers .not once but twice.
Scott Stevens More than 1 year ago
They should put them all on trial the Chapa's Blasi's,Jacbson's . Then let them sample an Electric cattle prod....
anonymous More than 1 year ago
No, they should let you sample it.
Scott Stevens More than 1 year ago
hey mike... eyes roll
mike More than 1 year ago
Loser. Tell me again about your "400K" worth of horses.
Scott Stevens More than 1 year ago
JEALOUS nothing more nothing less your a 2.00 show idiot. I can't believe what i called you, and you still respond to me don't you have any dignity are you not embarrassed???