09/22/2009 11:00PM

Torres reinstatement decision expected Tuesday


The licensing review committee of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission heard a plea for reinstatement from jockey Francisco Torres on Tuesday afternoon but deferred a decision on whether to grant him a conditional license, pending a regularly scheduled meeting of the full commission this coming Tuesday in Lexington, Ky.

Torres, who is seeking to ride in Kentucky for the first time in nearly nine years, was represented at the meeting by noted equine attorney Joel Turner. Torres, now 40, was barred by proprietary prerogative and without comment by Churchill Downs management midway through the 2000 fall meet. Leading up to that banishment, Torres had a documented history of substance abuse that he since has succeeded in putting behind him. Churchill has lifted its ban of Torres, clearing the way for his return to riding in Kentucky.

"Riding at Churchill and Keeneland always was, and still is, a big thing," Torres said early Tuesday when visiting horsemen in the Churchill stable area. "Being on the sidelines as long as I've been, I've realized it's an honor and a privilege to ride here, and I'm really taking that to heart."

Torres, 40, enjoyed considerable success on the Kentucky circuit in the late 1990s, when he led meets at Turfway Park and Ellis Park and was a perennial top-10 rider at Churchill. He has 2,170 wins in North American in a career dating to 1986. He also rode competitively for four years in Saudi Arabia in the early 2000s.

Torres, who with 74 wins is the second-leading rider at the Louisiana Downs meet that ends Oct. 4, said he will ride this fall at Keeneland, which runs Oct. 9-31, and Churchill, Nov. 1-28, before moving to the Fair Grounds for the winter.

Stipulations of his conditional license will be revealed if and when the commission approves his reinstatement, chief steward John Veitch said Wednesday.

* The licensing review committee also heard testimony Tuesday concerning the progress being made by jockey Miguel Mena as it relates to his Sept. 1 arrest for drunken driving in Louisville. Except for taking off his mounts on Sept. 4, Mena, 22, has ridden without interruption since that incident under conditional approval from the commission. "Miguel is being permitted to ride as long as he continues to abide by the mandates of the commission," said Veitch.