04/15/2009 11:00PM

Judge denies Charles Town ban

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A West Virginia circuit court judge on Thursday issued a restraining order barring Charles Town Races from enforcing the suspension of seven riders who have been accused by the track of falsifying their riding weights.

Judge L. D. Engor of Kanawha County Circuit Court issued the order at the request of the Jockeys' Guild, the national organization that represents jockeys. Engor's order said that the notices sent to the jockeys about their rights to a hearing were "constitutionally insufficient" and that the track had violated the riders' due-process rights.

Last week, stewards at Charles Town issued 30-day suspensions to seven riders after alleging that they had conspired with the clerk of scales to report weights that were lower than the weights they actually carried. The clerk of scales was suspended indefinitely.

ast week, stewards at Charles Town issued 30-day suspensions each to Alexis Rios-Conde, Tony Maragh, Anthony Mawing, Luis Perez, Larry Reynolds, Jesus Sanchez, and Dale Whittaker after alleging that the riders had conspired with the clerk of scales to report weights that were lower than the weights they actually carried. The clerk of scales was suspended indefinitely.

Charles Towns stewards had said that they relied on videotape evidence to determine that the weights were misreported. The jockeys have appealed the ruling.

The motion filed by the Guild seeking the temporary restraining order characterized the hearing procedure used by the stewards as unfair. Courts frequently issue temporary restraining order against racetracks that issued suspensions because the penalties typically prohibit a rider from earning any money if barred from the racetrack grounds while appealing the suspension.