08/03/2007 12:00AM

Kuntzweiler avoids prison

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Former jockey Greta Kuntzweiler was granted five years probation and had a 10-year prison sentence for drug-related offenses suspended during a brief hearing Friday morning before Judge Mitch Perry in Jefferson Circuit Court.

Kuntzweiler, a former leading rider at Turfway Park and a mainstay for several years on the Kentucky circuit through 2005, was ordered to submit to random drug tests and continue drug counseling throughout her supervised probation, during which she intends to work as an exercise rider. Kuntzweiler, 31, has been working at a private horse farm in nearby Oldham County in recent months.

Kuntzweiler had been on a home incarceration program since being released from jail after serving 10 days following her arrest in Louisville on Nov. 21, 2006, on charges of manufacturing and possession of methamphetamine. Her current employer, Susan Netherwood, testified before the court that Kuntzweiler has been a model employee while working as many as 20 horses a day.

Kuntzweiler's attorney, Tim McCall, told the court that Kuntzweiler has learned a "costly, difficult, and humiliating lesson" and "has taken the matter very seriously."

Judge Perry responded by saying that "this has been a troubling case, for a number of reasons" before outlining the parameters under which Kuntzweiler will serve her probation.

Kuntzweiler gave only brief responses to questions from Perry and otherwise did not address the court.

Kuntzweiler began her riding career in 1999. Besides her leading-rider title at the 2002 winter-spring meet at Turfway, her career highlights also include a victory in the 2004 Hawthorne Gold Cup aboard Freefourinternet.

In a related case, Kuntzweiler's husband, Bryan Beccia, was taken away to prison Friday for a minimum of five years, after which he will be eligible for parole. Beccia, who competed sparingly as a jockey while working primarily as an exercise rider, including a stint as the exercise rider for 2001 Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos, was sentenced to 25 years on charges of methamphetamine manufacturing, trafficking, and possession. Beccia, 42, had numerous prior offenses and therefore received a harsher sentence than his wife.