Jockey Roman Chapa, whose career has been interrupted twice for carrying an illegal device used to stimulate horses, has been summarily suspended by Texas Racing Commission stewards investigating his ride aboard Quiet Acceleration, winner of the $50,000 Richard King Stakes on Saturday night at Sam Houston Race Park in Houston.
A photograph of the finish – taken from the inside rail of the 1 1/8-mile turf race by the official track photographer, Coady Photography – shows what appears to be a small object in the palm of Chapa's left hand.
Chapa met with stewards at 9 a.m. (Central) on Monday morning following Sunday's dark day at Sam Houston. “There are two issues,” presiding steward David Rollinson said prior to the meeting. “Whether he will ride today (Chapa is named on five mounts), and there will be an ongoing investigation.”
Following the meeting, replacement riders were named for all five races in which Chapa had been named to ride on Monday.
Steward Dennis Sidener confirmed that Chapa would not be allowed to ride until further notice. “As of this moment, Roman Chapa is summarily suspended,” Sidener said. “At this time's it's still being investigated.”
Quiet Acceleration, owned and trained by Danny Pish, rallied from fifth in the final furlong to win by a half-length at odds of 10-1. Quiet Acceleration also won the 2014 running of the Richard King Stakes under Chapa. The Texas-bred son of Silent Picture came into this year's renewal off five consecutive losses under different jockeys.
Chapa has won with five of seven mounts, with one second and a third-place finish, on the first two programs of the 2015 Sam Houston Race Park meeting. On Friday's opening night, he rode three horses for Pish, winning twice and finishing second once. One of the winners, Infectious, was a homebred racing for William S. Farish, the former vice chairman of The Jockey Club and owner of Lane's End Farm.
On Saturday Chapa won races for trainers Steve Asmussen and Karl Broberg, in addition to his victory in the King Stakes for Pish. He finished third with his other mount, also for Pish, who has multiple training titles at the three Texas racetracks: Sam Houston, Lone Star Park and Retama Park. Pish and Chapa have combined for numerous victories together.
Chapa was suspended for nine months and fined $2,500 by stewards at Trinity Meadows in Texas in October 1994, while still an apprentice. The ruling says Chapa “stated he used a nail on his mount, Silver Sixes, during the running of the second race on Aug. 13, 1994, at Gillespie County Fair.” Silver Sixes won the Quarter horse futurity trial but was disqualified and placed last for his jockey's admission.
He received a five-year suspension from New Mexico stewards for possession of an electrical device in 2007 in connection with the Asmussen-trained Right Place N Time after a fifth-place finish at Sunland Park on Feb. 17, 2007. Chapa was granted a probationary license in June 2011 prior to serving the full five years of that suspension.
Chapa's name came up in the 2014 investigation of the Asmussen stable by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals when assistant trainer Scott Blasi was taped at a dinner party saying the jockey, who has ridden nearly 1,000 horses for Asmussen, hid the device in his mouth to avoid detection.
“That silly-ass Roman Chapa put it in his mouth in New Mexico,” said Blasi in the secretly taped conversation with Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens and Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas. “They came in to shake him down, he stuck it in his mouth, then he spit it out in his wash bucket.” In other sections of the taped conversation, Lukas, a member of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, said jockeys would sometimes hide the device under the blinkers of a horse. Lukas was referencing his days as a Quarter horse trainer 40 years ago.
According to Equibase, Chapa has 1,712 career victories from 10,179 mounts, which have earned $25,870,886. His career began in 1993 but he did not ride in 1996 or from 2008-10.
The Paulick Report was unable to reach Chapa through his agent, Toby Cathey, who did not respond to phone calls or text and voice messages.
The original version of this article had incorrect details on Roman Chapa's first infraction for carrying a prohibited device in 1994. The device he admitted to using on a horse was a nail, not an electrical device as previously reported in the Paulick Report and other publications.
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