Updated on 09/06/2013 11:09PM

Will Take Charge's jockey accused by rival trainer of using electrical device in Travers

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Barbara D. Livingtston
Will Take Charge (left) edges Moreno at the wire of the Travers Stakes. Moreno's connections have accused Will Take Charge's jockey, Luis Saez, of using an electronic device during the race.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – The connections of Travers second-place finisher Moreno filed a complaint Friday with the New York State Gaming Commission alleging that Luis Saez, the rider of Travers winner Will Take Charge, used an electrical device on his horse during the running of the race.

Will Take Charge got up in the final jump of the Travers to beat Moreno by a nose.

“We have received a complaint, which we are thoroughly investigating,” said Lee Park, spokesman for the Gaming Commission. “We have sought the assistance of the New York State Police, which has expertise in video analysis.”

Saez, through his agent Richard DePass, denied the allegation.

“It’s absurd for someone to make an accusation like that,” DePass said by phone from Florida. “We deny it one million percent. We’re going to get an attorney and pursue this vigorously.”

The investigation is being conducted by the three track stewards as well as the Gaming Commission. Carmine Donofrio, the Gaming Commission steward, confirmed the stewards asked NBC for a tape of the race. Donofrio declined to comment further.

Sources also confirmed that the stewards did interview Saez on Saturday and that his locker was searched.

“We are actively cooperating with the State Gaming Commission in their review,” said Eric Wing, spokesman for the New York Racing Association. “Obviously, the integrity of our race is a matter of great importance to us.”

D. Wayne Lukas, trainer of Will Take Charge, said neither Saez nor himself did anything wrong.

“It’s just unfortunate,” Lukas said. “That’s a good kid. He didn’t do anything wrong. It’ll run its course. The people that look at that stuff will come to the right conclusion. Somebody has a little trouble accepting defeat.”

Lukas was obviously referring to Eric Guillot, who trains Moreno for Michael Moreno’s Southern Equine Stable.

Guillot was sent by his brother Chip a slow-motion video of the NBC broadcast of the gallop out of the Travers, which Guillot alleges shows Saez moving an object from his right hand to his left and then tucking it underneath the saddle pad.

Guillot said the New York stewards told him “they would have to go through the proper procedures, which they’re doing right now.”

In the Travers, Moreno set the pace for the entire race while Will Take Charge raced a close-up fifth. In midstretch, Saez had Will Take Charge directly behind Moreno before guiding him to his outside late.

“To me, the horse was dead in the water four jumps out from the wire when he hit him with the machine, he surged,” Guillot said. “Pretty suspicious why they had a jock change coming off a second place in the Jim Dandy.”

Guillot was referring to the fact Saez was replacing Junior Alvarado who had ridden Will Take Charge to a second-place finish in the Jim Dandy.

Guillot is known to be a character who says outlandish things. He made a voodoo doll of Todd Pletcher, trainer of Travers favorites Verrazano and Palace Malice.

“One thing I have with all the [stuff] I talk is integrity,” Guillot said. “Integrity goes a long way with me. This industry needs it. This will be a black eye to the industry. But I think if we all clean up the rats and flush them out, we’ll have no more problems in the future. I feel sorry for the industry and the gamblers, the people that bet on him at 30-1, for it to come to this.”

Coincidentally, the stewards on Saturday fined Guillot $500 for using a mechanical massage blanket 24 hours out from a race, necessitating the scratch of Willyconker from Saturday’s Grade 2 Bernard Baruch Handicap.

The Travers was the first Grade 1 victory for Saez, a 21-year-old native of Panama City who began riding in the United States in 2009 and has amassed 937 wins. After riding mostly in south Florida, Saez moved his tack to New York this spring, riding 39 winners to finish eighth in the standings at Belmont Park. He has 16 wins so far at Saratoga, putting him 10th in the standings.

The Baron More than 1 year ago
Been in the Racing Business for 40 plus years in every capacity you can imagine - this I can tell for sure - if Saez had used a "machine" for the Travers it would be in the Sarratoga infield some where!! The Jocks that use these don't usually save them - they dump them after the race. If Guillot wants to maybe look for the machine in infield go ahead - he can sure use the exercise!! These machines are for the most part disposable especially given it was a Grade One race - he could afford to get another one. They do not want to be weighing out on the scales and drop it in front of the CLerk of the Scales!! This is a little too late in my opinion and sour grapes at this point - Guillot is a Quack and should not be taken seriously in this case.
Dan Reynolds More than 1 year ago
The visual evidence from that tape would raise suspicions. He is fiddling with that saddle blanket with his left hand, that much is obvious. You can live in denial and say you see nothing going on there, but again, you'd be living in denial.
Mr. Ed More than 1 year ago
Well okey dokey then, everyone see's him fiddling with the saddle blanket, anyone with a brain is then living in denial if they don't. So ok then, he's fiddling with the saddle blanket. So what the heck does that have to do with using or not using a buzzer. This thing has grown a life of it's own. So is it your theory that if you fiddle with the saddle blanket that's proof of using a buzzer. Weird.
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
Race been official two weeks. Report ten days old. Put it in recycle bin with rest of garbage. Nothing happened. Except Eric lost poorly.
Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
one could argue that if there's nothing there they would have said so by now. We know the racing officials would love to see this go away. If the could they would stuff it neatly under the saddlecloth .
Perl More than 1 year ago
A week later and no proof. Looks like the conspiracy theorists are wrong AGAIN. like they are 98% of the time.
Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
98 % seems high as far as I know there have been 4 similar cases and 2 were nothing j,santos on funny cide and g.stevens on thunder gulch but the other two were suspended b.paton on valhol in the arksas derby and roman chapa at sunland park...so it 50/50 this will be the tie breaker...but please don't be so ignorant as to think it does not happen.
Robert Smith More than 1 year ago
Ray always has the empirical evidence. Ray out of the 10 races run every year at least 6 of them are rigged with a machine. Always looking to push that number to 7.
Rob Nokes More than 1 year ago
First off #6 shut off #5 out of the gate and the boy on #5 took up his horse to avoid clipping heels. Secondly after the race when the jock on #5 stands up his right hand is open wide so if there was a machine there it would be the size of two AA or two AAA batteries wrapped in black electricians tape, about the size of his pinky finger. Do you see an extra black pinky finger in the video? I didn't. Down the stretch #5 comes out of the turn and the jock flags and hits once right handed, the #5 begins to drift in towards the competition and the jock straightens him with an urging hand ride to pick him up and straighten him out. Then the jock switches sticks to his left, hits four times and has to go to a hand ride again to keep the horse straight from driving into the heels of #6. Guillot says four jumps from he plugged him in, there is a close up of the finish. Correct me if I am wrong but don't you plug a horse in on the withers where there is a lot of flesh? Not on the neck and mane with lots of hair. Also it is illogical for any trainer to risk ruining a horse by plugging him in during the mornings because that's the only time you can find out if the horse responds to the machine. You could do a lot more damage to a valuable horse than the risk warrants. Furthermore the machine is so overrated, cheaters and gamblers will never tell you how many times they lost plugging in a horse but that one becomes a defacto standard and legend that many fools believe.
Tom Paige More than 1 year ago
Very good and excellent observations.
Mr. Ed More than 1 year ago
A thought about Will Take Charge's explosive surge. If you watched 100 races where a closer overtakes a pace setter late, in 98 of them you would say the same thing. Palice Malice was following WTC. Coming into the stretch he was about two lengths behind him. Through the lane he is about 1 1/2 lengths behind him. At the wire he is about 1 length behind him. So, I suppose you could say that Palice Malice exloded with a late surge for a fourth place finish. Are we investigating his rider? Of course not. Your eyes deceive you. Maybe he did, and maybe he didn't, but the explosive surge argument as proof is ridiculous.
Drew More than 1 year ago
Wow that looks really suspicious. The horse was not responding to the whip, then all of a sudden explodes under hand urging. then all the hand movement in the gallop and tucking something underneath the saddle cloth. He may have had in in his left hand as they approached the wire.
Jeff Barnes More than 1 year ago
The same thing happened years ago,In racing the Stews can do anything they want to ,kinda like a civil suit you have to prove your not guilty.
Wayne Lack More than 1 year ago
This happened to be the day I didn't put 1st place money on this horse. He looked beat with about 3-4 strides to the wire but shot up without any whip urging. I would like to think it was a fair race, just seems that the big hitters as in many a race, didn't show up. Hard to tell. You want the game to be honest but like in any pro sport, there can be some manipulation. Hard to pinpoint this race. It is a great horse that may have finally ran his true race. I can see the hand manipulation at the end but if that's the jockey's trait, then leave it alone. The best horse cannot win all the time. That is why its gambling and anything can have an off day at anytime.
Stephen Taylor More than 1 year ago
My problem isn't with Guillot complaining if he thought there was cheating but doing it in public. If he's wrong it could be a VERY expensive mistake!