02/13/2017 3:30PM

Vazquez to serve three-day suspension


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Jockey Ramon Vazquez, who is tied atop the Oaklawn standings with Ricardo Santana Jr., will begin a three-day suspension Saturday for a riding infraction, according to a stewards’ ruling.

Vazquez had appealed the suspension, which was for “making contact with his hand to the head of a rival horse” on Jan. 21, the stewards said. The Arkansas Racing Commission heard his case Saturday and upheld the decision of the stewards. An attorney for Vazquez said the rider would not appeal to the courts. Vazquez has led the standings for much of the meet and has 22 wins from 89 starts heading into Thursday’s card.

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Also at the commission meeting, the panel unanimously passed an emergency rule concerning the total dissolved carbon dioxide threshold level, which will now be 37.0 millimoles per liter of blood plasma in all cases. Some rules provided for higher threshold levels for horses who compete on Lasix. The change brings Arkansas in line with national standards, according to testimony given at the meeting Saturday. The rule goes into effect immediately, according to commission attorney Byron Freeland.

The panel on Saturday also welcomed a new commissioner, Butch Rice, who is an owner, breeder, and the president of Stallion Transportation Group. Rice said his appointment is for five years.

◗ Jockey Alex Birzer enters Thursday’s card with 2,995 Thoroughbred wins in North America.