04/04/2010 11:00PM

Stewards sanction Espinoza, Gomez


ARCADIA, Calif. - The Santa Anita stewards suspended jockey Victor Espinoza and fined jockey Garrett Gomez for their roles in an incident Saturday during the and an altercation after the race.

Lookin At Lucky, racing in third place with Gomez aboard, tried to come through inside of second-place Who's Up and Espinoza on the far turn of the 1 1/8-mile Santa Anita Derby, but had to be taken up and may have hit the rail. He re-rallied and finished third behind Sidney's Candy and Setsuko. Who's Up finished ninth.

After the race, Gomez confronted Espinoza and took a swing at him near the scales where riders weigh-in adjacent to the winner's circle. The dispute continued in the jockeys' room.

Espinoza was given a three-day suspension on Sunday for altering course without sufficient clearance. Gomez was fined $750 for disorderly conduct.

Sunday, stewards Scott Chaney, Kim Sawyer and Tom Ward met with Espinoza and Gomez individually about the incident on the turn and the post-race scuffle.

Both jockeys reviewed several angles of the race with stewards. Gomez said that he had room along the rail entering the turn, but that Espinoza moved to the inside and forced him to check strongly.

"I can't tell if I did hit the fence, but it was close," he said.

Espinoza was the last to meet with the stewards. Chaney began his discussion with Espinoza by telling the jockey, "We don't believe this was anything intentional."

Espinoza said he thought Gomez should have ridden more aggressively on the turn to move Lookin At Lucky past Who's Up and closer to Sidney's Candy, who led by a length entering the turn. "I thought he waited too long," Espinoza said.

He said it was difficult to keep a tiring Who's Up from drifting to the inside on the turn. "I wish I'd never been in that spot," he said. "If I had enough horse I could have gone with [Sidney's Candy] at least to the lane."

Espinoza's suspension covers Sunday, and April 14-15.

Espinoza also was the object of some heated comments from Jill Baffert, the wife of Lookin At Lucky's trainer, Bob Baffert, later in the day outside the jockeys' room, an incident Chaney said Sunday that the stewards were investigating.

There has been tension between Espinoza and the Bafferts since Espinoza was replaced on Misremembered for the Santa Anita Handicap, which Misremembered won with Martin Garcia aboard. The Bafferts are the co-owners and co-breeders of Misremembered with George Jacobs.

On Monday, Bob Baffert said he was less concerned with Espinoza's actions than he was with Gomez for his ride.

"I was upset with Garrett," Baffert said. "When you ride the heavy favorite, especially at Santa Anita on the synthetic, where there's no pace, you can't put yourself in a spot where people can mess with you. You're inviting trouble."

- additional reporting by Jay Privman