03/23/2007 12:00AM

Stidham assistant barred for electrical device


An assistant trainer overseeing the Sam Houston string of trainer Mike Stidham has been suspended six months and fined $2,500 by stewards at the track after an illegal electrical device was discovered at his barn during a random search conducted by track officials in late January. The device was found in an open bag that the assistant, Rigoberto Rosas, conceded was his. Rosas, however, backed by Stidham, denies that he had anything to do with the battery.

David Rollinson, the presiding steward at Sam Houston, said Rosas had 72 hours from the time the ruling was issued Thursday to lodge an appeal, an action Stidham said would be taken. The appeal first goes before an administrative law judge, then would come before the Texas Racing Commission. It is up to the racing commission's executive secretary, Charla Ann King, to decide whether Rosas can continue working during the appeal.

Stidham, who is based during the winter at Fair Grounds in New Orleans, said Rosas had worked for him for eight years, and said he would continue to employ Rosas even if Rosas has to serve a suspension.

"I back him 100 percent," Stidham said. "He's totally trustworthy, and I plan to give him all the help he can get through the appeals process. I think he's innocent."

According to Stidham, the search that uncovered the battery was conducted during feed time, in late afternoon, and any number of people could have had access to the bag, which was hanging in an unlocked tack room.