07/16/2010 12:00AM

Jockeys band together after rider suspension


FORT ERIE, Ontario - Last Tuesday's card at Fort Erie had its share of controversy before the first race, when the meet's leading rider, Krista Carignan, was suspended indefinitely by stewards and lost her mounts aboard seven runners, from races 3 through 9.

All seven horses were scratched when trainers were unable to find replacements for Carignan.

The suspension stemmed from a violation that occurred in the stretch run of last Sunday's first race, when Carignan "raised her hand above her shoulder," the stewards ruled, before striking her mount, Slated Promise. She was cited for misuse of her whip for the fourth time, leading to an immediate suspension.

After meeting with the Ontario Racing Commission on Thursday, Carignan was given a three-day suspension retroactive to Tuesday.

Upon returning, Carignan must meet with stewards to review the whipping rules, and she will be on probation for the rest of the Fort Erie meeting. A future whip violation would lead to another immediate suspension and a second meeting with Rob McKinney, the racing commission's executive director.

Carignan will be back in the saddle here Sunday, but the fallout from last Tuesday's events will linger.

With Carignan off her mounts, trainers were forced to find replacement riders but could not find volunteers. Riders are not obligated to replace another rider following a scratch, and, in an apparent show of solidarity, they decided to sit out the races rather than replace Carignan.

Without replacement riders, all seven of Carignan's mounts were scratched, leaving the trainers of those horses angry.

Whip rulings, fines, and suspensions this season have upset the jockey colony at Fort Erie. Some riders consider the rulings arbitrary, and others are frustrated that the same fines are imposed at Woodbine and Fort Erie, where the purses are considerably lower.

The concerns of the riders here and the issues involved have yet to be resolved.

Mindemoya should get good setup

A field of 11 fillies and mares will contest the $30,000 Fort Erie Slots Cup, a six-furlong race that will highlight Sunday's card.

Leading trainer Nick Gonzalez will send out Mindemoya, who will seek her third win in a row, with Real Simard aboard once again.

There is plenty speed in the Slots Cup with the likes of Chocolateforlunch, Snow Rite, Hereisthering, and Starfromafar, and that should set the race up for Mindemoya, a closer.

My Natalie, with Kevin Johnson in the saddle, has good stalking speed and could be sitting just behind the pacesetters and ready to pounce.

Golden Sunset, from the Tony Adamo barn, should have a say in the final furlong. She has two rallying wins to her credit this year and Carignan gets the call.

* The Ontario Racing Commission has approved Fort Erie's request to begin racing at 4 p.m. in August.