Trainer Juan C. Vazquez received a second notice of ejection in as many months from officials of Penn National race course in Pennsylvania, this time for allegedly offering a “gratuity” to a racing official.
Chris McErlean, vice president-racing for Penn National Gaming Inc. (PNGI), which owns the Grantville, Pa., track, said Vazquez was issued the following notice in mid-April:
“Due to his actions and behaviors in attempting to gain favorable treatment through payment of a gratuity to a racing official, Mr. Juan C. Vazquez has violated the Rules of Racing, specifically but not limited to Rule 163.10, and has violated the standards of conduct set forth in the Penn National Gaming's Horsemen's Guide Section 1.2 (A) for Dishonest, Offensive or Illegal Conduct. As such, Penn National Race Course has made a reasoned determination that Mr. Vazquez's conduct is detrimental to the best interest of racing and his presence at Penn National Race Course is detrimental to the best interest of racing and to the orderly conduct of the racing meet. Mr. Vazquez is given a one (1) year ejection. In light of the ejection for previous conduct detrimental to racing, which ejection is presently under appeal to the Commission, Mr. Vazquez is ineligible to apply for reconsideration during the term of this ejection.”
Vazquez was ejected in March, shortly after the Maryland Jockey Club told the trainer he was not welcome to stable or race at Laurel or Pimlico. Vazquez also was ruled off at PNGI-owned Charles Town races in West Virginia.
Vazquez has exercised his statutory right to appeal both Pennsylvania ejection notices and he has received a stay of both notices, meaning his entries must be accepted and he is allowed on the racetrack grounds. A hearing was held March 31 on the first ejection, but Penn National has not been notified of any decision. The second notice will be heard by an administrative hearing officer appointed by the Pennsylvania State Horse Racing Commission on May 12.
McErlean also said PNGI officials received notification last week that Vazquez faces a positive medication test for a horse he ran recently at Penn National. The racing commission would not confirm whether Vazquez has had a horse test positive for a prohibited medication.
Alan Pincus, attorney for Vazquez, said Penn National has provided no details on the alleged gratuity from Vazquez to a racing official. He said his client has been subjected to “harassment” at Penn National, where federal officials have arrested a number of trainers and veterinarians and charged them with altering the outcome of races by violating medication rules. “The atmosphere is reminiscent of Salem,” said Pincus, a reference to the city where the witch trials were held in the late 1600s.
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