10/04/2013 3:42PM

Luis Saez cleared of buzzer allegations in Travers win


Luis Saez did not carry or use an electrical device when riding Will Take Charge to victory in the Travers Stakes at Saratoga Racecourse in New York on Aug. 24, and the accusation against the jockey by trainer Eric Guillot was “wholly unsubstantiated,” the New York Gaming Commission said in a report released on Friday following a month-long investigation.

The investigation included an unannounced search of Saez’s locker at Saratoga, interviews with all the jockeys in the race, and six searches of the Saratoga dirt track, including three searches using a magnet-carrying device attached to a tractor that is typically used to find nails or other metallic debris in the track, the report said. The investigation also included a review by the New York State Police of video footage of the race and of Will Take Charge’s gallop-out that showed “there was no foreign object depicted in the hands” of Saez, the report said.

On Friday at Keeneland, Saez said he was relieved the investigation was over, even though he said the accusation against him was baseless.

“I’ve never used a machine my whole life,” Saez said. “I’ve never cheated.”

The gaming commission launched the investigation one week after the Travers, when Guillot filed a complaint with the commission and the stewards, alleging that video footage showed an object dropping from Saez’s hands during the gallop-out of the race. Guillot, a native of Louisiana, is the trainer of Moreno, who was beaten a nose in the race.

In New York, the use of an electrical device in a race is a misdemeanor crime that could have landed Saez in jail for a year.

Horses can react unpredictably to the use of an electrical device, which is generally an open electrode that can be used to apply voltage to a horse’s neck. Jockeys and trainers who have used the devices say that horses generally need to be schooled with them to prevent them from bolting when the device is applied.

Investigators said in the report that an examination of the footage of the race from multiple angles failed to produce any evidence that a device was applied to the horse.

Will Take Charge is trained by D. Wayne Lukas, a Hall of Famer and one of the most renowned horsemen in racing history.

Four weeks after the Travers, Will Take Charge and Moreno squared off again, this time in the Sept. 21 Pennsylvania Derby. Will Take Charge beat Moreno again, but by 2 1/4 lengths.

Saez said that he did not believe his image, reputation, or career suffered as a result of the allegation.

“It hasn’t affected me,” Saez said. “My head is clear, and all of the trainers knew. They told me, ‘Don’t worry. We know you.’ ”