01/04/2013 10:50AM

Turfway Park notes: Jockeys St. Julien, Gonzalez given lengthy suspensions


A couple of veteran jockeys ran afoul of the stewards recently at Turfway Park, with both having been dealt lengthy suspensions for different violations.

Marlon St. Julien has been suspended indefinitely, pending his completion of a drug-treatment program, while Sal Gonzalez Jr. has appealed two suspensions totaling 30 days for "unsatisfactory rides" in December races at the northern Kentucky track.

Kentucky acting chief steward Barbara Borden said Friday that St. Julien was suspended after admitting to his use of an unprescribed controlled substance. St. Julien was enrolled Thursday at Turfway in a new pilot program sanctioned by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and will be eligible to ride again when he completes the program and "can provide us with a negative drug test," said Borden.

St. Julien, 40, who has ridden primarily in Kentucky and Indiana over the last few years, has not ridden since Dec. 23. He was 9 for 69 at the Turfway holiday meet that began Nov. 29. The Louisiana native has more than 2,250 wins in a career dating to 1989.

Gonzalez was suspended 10 days for his ride aboard a 20-1 shot named Lucky Tip in the third race Dec. 16 and for 20 days for his ride on an 8-1 shot named Wheaton’s Express in the fifth race Dec. 20. Lucky Tip was pulled up early in her race, and Wheaton’s Express was badly distanced. Neither horse was found afterward to be physically compromised, said Borden.

Gonzalez, 37, has not ridden since Dec. 27 and was 3 for 45 at the holiday meet. Since he began riding in 1993, he has 523 wins in a career marked by occasional absences, some of them lengthy. Borden said his appeal means he is eligible to ride until his case is heard by the commission, as is customary.

Arroyo staying local

Borden said Norberto Arroyo Jr., the leading jockey with 28 wins at the holiday meet that ended Monday, has been “no problem at all” since he returned from a layoff of more than three years.

Arroyo’s agent, Scotty Ward, said recently the jockey has contemplated trying to get a license in other states but that he is content to remain at Turfway for the time being. Arroyo said he has relocated his wife and four children to the Louisville area. Borden said Arroyo is “in good standing” in Kentucky and that there are no restrictions in his conditional agreement with the commission that would preclude him from attempting to secure a license in another jurisdiction.

Meanwhile, other leaders at the holiday meet were Mike Maker, the top trainer with 7 wins, and Vernon Coyle and the S and L Stables, leading owners with 4 wins apiece.

Thomas end years on up note

Veteran trainer Phil Thomas Jr. enjoyed a terrific end to an adventurous year by winning with his last three starters of 2012, including two on the New Year’s Eve program Monday.

Thomas, 62, won a maiden-special race with a first-time starter named Farlake on Dec. 28 before winning with Government Road and Court’s Journey on Monday. In October, Thomas, who suffered a stroke in December 2010, was hospitalized for nearly a week when his calf was pierced by a pitchfork in an accident at his Finchville, Ky., farm.

“It was a great way to bring in the New Year,” said Thomas.

* After racing on a four-day-a-week schedule during the holiday meet and a stretch of six straight racing dates after Christmas, Turfway now moves to a three-day race week (Friday-Sunday) by dropping Thursdays in January. In February, there will be just four days of racing (Feb. 1, 2, 8, 9) before a more active schedule resumes in March (11 days). Keeneland begins its spring meet April 5.

* The exodus for Oaklawn Park began early this week for about 150 horses that had been training at Churchill Downs, where the stable area closed Tuesday for 10 weeks of routine winter maintenance. Oaklawn starts next Friday.