06/18/2007 11:00PM

Rider says he regrets kicking horse


Victor Molina, the veteran rider who was ejected from Philadelphia Park on Monday after kicking a horse in the stomach before the third race, apologized on Tuesday "to everyone I may have hurt" and said he would accept whatever penalty results from the ejection.

"Time goes by, and I feel worse and worse and worse about it," Molina said in a telephone interview. "People who know me know that I would never try to hurt a horse, but it's not those people I worry about, it's all the people who don't know me."

Molina was ejected after the sixth race, following a flood of calls and e-mails to Philadelphia Park complaining about Molina's treatment of a 2-year-old colt, which was captured on live television by Television Games Network. He has been barred from the track for an indefinite period, and will go before the stewards for a hearing on Friday, according to Sal Sinatra, the track's director of racing.

Molina said that the colt, Yes Yes Ohyes, flipped in the starting gate before the third race, striking the jockey hard in the chest and head with his head. When the horse was backed out of the gate, Molina could be seen kicking the colt in the chest.

"At that point, I wasn't just hurting, I got mad and angry, and for some stupid reason I kicked the horse," Molina said.

The 46-year-old Molina, who has ridden for 27 years, said he did not blame the racetrack for ejecting him, and that he had elected to waive his right to notice of a formal hearing - which would have allowed him to ride until a hearing could be scheduled 10 days later - and has decided not to ride at Monmouth Park in New Jersey on Thursday.

"I'm going to punish myself, too," Molina said. "Whatever they want to give me, I'll accept."

Horses are routinely subjected to aggressive handling in order to get them in the starting gate. For example, gate crews routinely use whips and nose twitches to get horses to enter the gate, and often resort to rough handling of a horse's tack to get the horses to settle once inside.

Sinatra said that he had talked to both Yes Yes Ohyes's owner, Hidden Meadow Farm, and his trainer, Clifford Sise. "Both said that if it's possible, we should go easy" on Molina, he said.

"I've known him for a long time," Sinatra said. "He's the last guy in the world I thought would do something like this."