10/21/2006 11:00PM

Jose Ferrer suspended at Hawthorne


CHICAGO - Jose Ferrer, the second-leading jockey at the current Hawthorne meet, has been suspended 30 days by Hawthorne stewards, who allege Ferrer failed to do his best to win the fifth race Saturday while riding Burke's Legend.

Ferrer took off his mounts Sunday, though the suspension does not take effect until Friday, Oct. 27. Oscar Sanchez, Ferrer's agent, said Ferrer proclaimed his innocence and would appeal the ruling as soon as possible.

"He didn't do anything wrong," Sanchez said.

Stewards saw things differently, taking swift action less than 24 hours after the race in question. Burke's Legend, trained by Jerry Gryczewski, was the tepid 5-2 favorite in a $4,000 claiming race. He broke in front under Ferrer, raced in second most of the backstretch and around the turn and still was in contention while racing between horses into the stretch. Ferrer appears to pull on the reins at about the three-sixteenths pole while looking to his outside, as Cleaning House, the 3-1 second choice, swept past with a wide run on his way to an easy victory. Burke's Legend would wind up a close third behind 7-2 shot Bull'o the Woods.

Chief steward Eddie Arroyo said authorities were "still investigating" any sign of irregular betting patterns.

The stewards ruling cited Ferrer for violating a statute that says: "Every horse in every race must be ridden so as to finish as near as possible to first and show the best and fastest race it is capable of at that time."

Arroyo said the 30-day suspension was discretionary. "We could have given him more, we could have given him less," he said.