06/24/2004 12:00AM

Kentucky alters ban time

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Jockeys who are subject to five-day suspensions for riding infractions on the Kentucky circuit are now being permitted to take their penalty in calendar days, as opposed to racing days, if they agree not to appeal the suspension.

The change was implemented this week by the three-man board of stewards at Churchill Downs, where John McKee became the first jockey to choose the new option, serving Monday through Friday for a riding infraction last Saturday, June 19.

Because Mondays and Tuesdays are dark days at Churchill, McKee, who will resume riding Saturday, had to serve only three racing days.

Mickey Sample, acting chief steward for the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority, said the stewards enacted the change to eliminate frivolous and transparent appeals.

"We think this is a fair way to cut down on the number of appeals, where jockeys 'buy time' to serve their days when it's convenient for them," said Sample.

Sample cited a recent suspension handed to Rafael Bejarano, who currently leads the standings at the Churchill spring meet, as a recent example of a jockey using the appeals system to his advantage. "When he drops his appeal, he'll have to serve five racing days," said Sample.