09/19/2002 11:00PM

Smith hit with 27-day ban


MIAMI - Ariel Smith, 1999 Eclipse Award winner as top apprentice, has been suspended 27 days by the Calder stewards, seven for careless riding and 20 more for being the aggressor in a wild jockeys' room brawl following the running of the fifth race here Monday. He was also fined $1,000 for destroying track property.

Smith rode Wicklow Miracle, who impeded several horses after swinging out sharply at the top of the stretch in the maiden special weight race for fillies and mares on the turf. Wicklow Miracle finished first but was disqualified and placed last following a stewards' inquiry.

Jeremy Beasley was the rider of Sorrento Sara, who nearly went down after being impeded by Wicklow Miracle entering the stretch. Beasley and Smith engaged in a heated verbal exchange after the race. According to witnesses, Smith struck Beasley over the head with his helmet upon returning to the jockeys' room, opening a wound that Walter Blum, a state steward, said required eight staples to close. The pair then fought for several minutes before being separated by track security officers.

Beasley took off the remainder of his mounts on Monday and again Thursday but returned to the saddle Friday. Beasley has not filed any criminal charges against Smith.

At the time of his suspension, Smith had 19 victories and a 15-percent winning average.