12/06/2014 6:28PM

Stewards suspend Lopez, Franco for 15 days following Friday incident


OZONE PARK, N.Y. – The New York stewards suspended jockeys C.C. Lopez and Manuel Franco both 15 days for careless riding as a result of a spill Friday at Aqueduct that left two horses dead.

Though he had not yet officially done so, Lopez said Saturday afternoon he plans to appeal his suspension. Franco said Saturday afternoon he had not yet decided if he would appeal.

“I think it’s unjust. What they’re doing is unfair,” Lopez said Saturday. “They don’t need to make me an example for what happened a few months back.”

Lopez was referring to the incident in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park on Sept. 27 in which Wicked Strong clipped heels with Moreno about 4  1/2 furlongs from the wire. Wicked Strong stumbled and unseated jockey Rajiv Maragh, who broke an arm.

For that incident, jockey Junior Alvarado received a 15-day suspension. He initially appealed but dropped that appeal while he’s out rehabilitating from an injury. The stewards let him take his days starting Dec. 1, claiming Alvarado had presented them a doctor’s note clearing him to ride.

In Friday’s race, Lopez was aboard Sol the Freud, who drifted out in mid-stretch, while Franco was aboard American Creed, who drifted in, causing Quick Money, ridden by Angel Serpa, to clip heels and fall.

Laila’s Jazz, ridden by Cornelio Velasquez, fell over Quick Money, and Half Nelson fell over Laila’s Jazz.

Quick Money died on impact, suffering a broken neck. Half Nelson was vanned off and euthanized a short time later due to a broken shoulder. Laila’s Jazz was not reported to have been injured.

Velasquez suffered a broken left collarbone and will be sidelined for a month. Neither Serpa nor Israel Rodriguez, the rider of Half Nelson was injured.

Lopez said the severity of the penalty is “what you give when someone goes out of his way to hurt somebody.”

“[Serpa] ran into the back of me, and I get blamed?”

Franco said he felt the 15-day suspension was “not fair” but he had yet to talk with his agent to discuss whether or not to appeal.

Lounge Lizard More than 1 year ago
Think I'm going to have to side with C.C. Lopez here. If anyone should get suspended it should have been Serpa. He is responsible for the lives of those horses and Velasquez's injury. He gets to keep collecting a paycheck for being the irresponsible party to a tragic incident, that believe it or not, could have been much worse. I watched it live on TV and saw the replay several times, and the only rider that could have prevented this catastrophe was Serpa. He chose put every horse and rider behind him in harms way. Serpa could see the horses dueling on the lead in front of him, and chose an aggressive move to split horses. Lopez had the whip in his left hand, while Franco on the outside had his whip in his right. Serpa chose to bull his way between horses that where battling for placings. He had plenty of time to wait for a run off their heels, but opted for the worst case scenario. It was truly a sickening outcome, that could have maimed or killed more riders and horses. Serpa had time to make a better decision, a chose the only move that would have caused this outcome. His tailgating caused this incident and should be dealt with properly. Lopez and Franco are the scapegoats here. I'm sure the riders in the room have a different opinion than that of the stewards when it comes down to the stewards ruling.
Greg Scherr More than 1 year ago
Lizzy, I commend you on both your explanation as well as your ability to not rant about it, not seeing the race at all your description made it very clear in my minds eye, thanks
Rock Threesixty More than 1 year ago
This whole sport is a sham no need for racing pps. Winners are inspired by illegal substances and politics. No wonder this game is dying...all it is is a racket
bangem andleavem More than 1 year ago
What's with removing the race from the replay center? Who asked them to censor a matter of record? What else do they censor? Name trainers coming up with positive tests maybe? How dare they remove the race from the record.
Chris Lowe More than 1 year ago
My ADW(Interbets) still has it on replay.
Boyd Cord More than 1 year ago
I was working did not see it, 2 horses dead? man, somebody got to pay for that.
Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
Someone wrote that NY jockeys get more appeals than death row inmates..funny but true. Careless riding needs to be combated just like the doping of the horses..new york winter racing is a wild wild west and best avoided.
Rudy DiCristina More than 1 year ago
It was a bit difficult finding the race in question as NYRA chose to remove it from the replays for that day. After a little bit of searching I did indeed find and watch the race'.As a handicapper for 30 years I do not agree with the stewards decision,and also agree that the penalty being imposed is not fair or just...I believe thoroughbred racing should employ a national board of stewards to over see objections and inquiriees.This is the fairest way to make calls which at can vary from track to track and eliminate the prejudice and favoritism which is given high profile trainers and jockeys.Its no wonder it racing is a dying sport with so many inconsistancys medications,inconsistant disciplinary actions,,and the good ole boy mentality in judgement calls..Its no wonder the betting $$ and numbers of people attending are on the decline..I truly love this sport,but what happened with NYRA and Aqueduct Race 8 is an injustice to the jockeys being punished,as they are being made scape goats for what would normally be a sad loss for two equine athletes.
Bruce Epstein More than 1 year ago
I saw it live, and it looked to me that Serpa was the cause. Yes Franco's horse was coming out, but CC's horse was just stopping. Just a freak timing issue.
Frank More than 1 year ago
wow - 15 days for causing the death of two horses and putting jocks life in more danger. This guy should go away for a long while. What a joke -- I boycott AQU for the rest of the season.
Will More than 1 year ago
please do, no one needs your money. another person with an opinion and no idea what they're talking about
Frank More than 1 year ago
then please correct me where I am wrong -- Did 2 horses die? was it found to be caused by Franco? And how wrong can you be -- NYRA needs my money and yours too. Have you been reading the articles where handles have been reduced year over year?
mikeg More than 1 year ago
You are wrong because if you actually saw the race you would know it was Serpa's fault.
Pagani Zonda More than 1 year ago
I boycotted Aqueduct after I read that a handicap girl was r@ped in the washroom there last year. Disgusting venue. It is fact, just search the articles on Google.
Pagani Zonda More than 1 year ago
Just google search Handicap girl raped at Aqueduct racetrack, it is every article available.
mikey More than 1 year ago
Maybe half the horses running are half broke down.Lopez is no kid and knows the game.These stews are a joke.
Rosemarie Cola More than 1 year ago
I don't know Mr. Franco, but I've grown older watching CC Lopez at Monmouth. He is nothing less than a gentleman and an outstanding jockey who is loved by the fans here in NJ. I could not believe CC Lopez would ride without regard for his fellow riders and the horses that they ride. Believe me, I grieve for those poor animals, but horses are moving at such speed, unfortunate things are bound to happen: wholes disappear, horses backup in front of you, babies don't run straight, and horses don't come out of the gate perfectly straight. (Shared Belief fan here). I am sure the jockeys that see these horses die on the track or other jockeys hurt in these horrible accidents are affected even more than us fans. I just feel long suspensions should be given for dangerous ridding that was intentional.