03/29/2015 3:32PM

Santa Anita exercise rider held by immigration officials

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ARCADIA, Calif .- Paul Eddery, the former British-based jockey who has worked as an exercise rider in Southern California recently, was taken into custody by immigration officials in El Paso, Texas, on March 23 following a trip to Sunland Park for the Sunland Park Derby.

Eddery, 51, was reportedly trying to return to Southern California when he was arrested at the El Paso airport because of issues related to his visa, according to a Facebook page created to win his release. The Facebook page issued a plea for concerned parties to contact congress members to pressure immigration officials for Eddery’s release.

Eddery, who remains in custody as of Sunday, was at Sunland Park with Firing Line, the colt who won the Sunland Park Derby. Firing Line is trained by Simon Callaghan, who declined to comment on the situation over the weekend.

It was not immediately clear how long Eddery would be in custody, or whether he would be allowed to remain in the United States upon release. Some of Eddery’s friends in the Santa Anita stable area said over the weekend that they are concerned he could be held for an undetermined period.

Eddery, who retired in 2010, rode more than 1,000 winners around the world. He rode four winners at Royal Ascot – the 1985 Windsor Castle on Atall Atall, the 1986 Cork and Orrery Stakes on Sperry, the 1994 Jersey Stakes on Gneiss, and the 1995 Queen Alexandra Stakes on Cuff Link.

Eddery was second in the 1987 English Derby aboard Most Welcome.  Eddery later rode Most Welcome to a win in the 1989 Lockinge Stakes. Other major wins in Britain included the 1982 Ayr Gold Cup on Famous Star, and the 1983 Northumberland Plate on Weaver’s Pin. He was closely allied with trainers Henry Cecil, Reg Holllinshead, Peter Walwyn, and Geoff Wragg at various times during his riding career.

One of Paul Eddery’s older brothers, Pat, was an 11-time champion jockey in England.