06/01/2010 11:00PM

Kuntzweiler applies for jockey's license


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Greta Kuntzweiler has asked the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission to consider issuing her a jockey's license nearly three years after she pled guilty on drug-related offenses and ultimately agreed to five years' probation on a suspended 10-year prison sentence.

The Licensing Review Committee of the commission will discuss the Kuntzweiler case Tuesday in Lexington. Kuntzweiler, who has been working throughout her probation as an exercise rider at the Skylight training center just east of Louisville, said last weekend that she has hired noted equine attorney Joel Turner and that she is looking forward to the possibility of returning to riding races.

"I've worked very hard to show that I've turned my life around," said Kuntzweiler, 34.

Kuntzweiler, born in Iowa and raised in Montana, was arrested three times in 2006 on drug charges, the latest in November 2006 on multiple counts of methamphetamine manufacturing and possession. She pled guilty June 12, 2007, in Jefferson Circuit Court and was granted stringent probation conditions Aug. 3, 2007.

Turner said he has filed a considerable amount of paperwork with the commission, including court documents and "a half dozen" letters of recommendation from reputable sources both inside and outside the racing industry. He said Kuntzweiler has led "an exemplary life" while she has worked at Skylight, undergone intensive drug counseling, and served countless hours of community service. She remains on supervised probation, said Turner.

"This was a case of Greta being involved with the wrong people," said Turner. "She has proven over time that she has put all this behind her."

Turner said the best-case scenario for Kuntzweiler would be for the licensing review committee to award her a license as early as Tuesday. Because Kuntzweiler has never had her license revoked or suspended, it is not mandatory that her case eventually be turned over to the full commission for approval, said Turner.

Kuntzweiler began her riding career in 1999. She was the leading rider at the Turfway Park winter-spring meet in 2002 and has won several big races, including the 2004 Hawthorne Gold Cup on Freefourinternet. She has not ridden competitively since 2005.

Acoma eyes repeat in Mint Julep

Acoma, undefeated in five career starts at Churchill, will try to defend her title here Saturday in the Grade 3, $100,000 Mint Julep Handicap when she makes her 5-year-old debut as the 122-pound highweight.

Acoma will be making her first start since she captured the Cardinal Handicap here last fall. Trained by David Carroll for the mother-daughter team of Helen Groves and Helen Alexander, Acoma has won three times in as many tries over the Churchill turf, including the 2009 Mint Julep.

Hot Cha Cha and Keertana both will carry 120 pounds as the main challengers to Acoma in the 1 1/16-mile turf race. The Mint Julep will highlight an 11-race card Saturday, when thousands of fans will be sticking around for the Belmont Stakes simulcast.

* Oriana Rossi has become a sought-after apprentice after posting six victories, several of them at big mutuels, from her first 32 mounts at the Churchill spring meet. Rossi is a native of Italy who worked seven years in England before coming to the United States more than three years ago.

Rossi, 27, is the second-leading apprentice at the meet behind Freddie Lenclud, who has 17 wins. A $2 win on every Rossi mount has returned an average of $4.11. Rossi said she intends to ride at Ellis Park and Indiana Downs after the Churchill meet ends July 4.

* Churchill is reviving its Derby Alumni theme for Stephen Foster Day, June 12, with a variety of activities and ceremonies honoring the owners, trainers, and jockeys of former Derby winners.

Churchill first held an Alumni Day in conjunction with the Foster in 1998. The event continued for several years before the track cited the considerable expense in paying for alumni to return to Louisville as the main reason for discontinuing it.

* Calvin Borel, who leads the Churchill jockey standings heading into Friday action, is two victories away from becoming just the second jockey in track history to register 1,000 wins. Pat Day is the all-time leader at Churchill with 2,482 wins. Borel is named to ride in nine of the 11 races Friday.