Former Leading Rider At Ellis Park Suspended In Indiana For Alleged Possession of Electrical Device

by | 08.11.2017 | 1:23pm
Didiel Osorio, shown after a four-win day at Ellis Park in 2016

Jockey Didiel Osorio has been summarily suspended by Indiana Horse Racing Commission stewards after allegedly being in possession of an illegal electrical device following the fifth race at Indiana Grand on Thursday.

Osorio rode the winner, 7-10 favorite Deep Explorer, owned by Jeff Allen, Michael Thomas and Donald Habeeb and trained by Habeeb.

According to senior state steward Stan Bowker, Indiana Horse Racing Commission investigator Toni Sperle conducted a search that began in the winner's circle while Osorio was weighing in after the fifth race and ended in the jockeys room. Electrical devices, made from small batteries, wires and electrical tape, can be concealed in a jockey's hand during a race and are used to shock or stimulate a horse. Commonly referred to as buzzers, batteries or machines, they are illegal in racing and can lead to lengthy suspensions.

Illegal electrical device commonly called a buzzer, battery or machine

Osorio was removed from his remaining mounts at Indiana Grand on Thursday and a summary suspension was issued Friday that will be reciprocated in other states. An initial hearing has been set for Aug. 22.

The summary suspension, pending completion of an investigation, cites a violation of IHRC Rule #71 IAC 7.5-6-5 (d) (4), and states that “possession of an electrical device on the grounds of an association is conduct that is against the best interest of horse racing or compromises the integrity of racing.”

Osorio, a 23-year-old native of Panama, has been riding at both Indiana Grand and Ellis Park in Kentucky, where he ranks third in the current jockey standings, with 13 wins from 80 mounts. Osorio was leading rider at Ellis Park in 2015, winning 25 races from 171 mounts. He began his U.S. riding career in 2013 and has 235 wins from 2,037 mounts.

Bowker said the maximum penalty the stewards can assess for possession of an electrical device is a one-year license suspension and $5,000 fine, but the case may be referred to the commission, which has the authority to issue additional sanctions.

  • Michael Shea

    Is my memory faulty or was the penalty much more severe when I was a kid? I actually thought it meant a lifetime ban years ago.

    • longshot

      I knew 2 jocks that got caught one got life one got 10 years. I guess its up to the commission and what they think the punishment should be.

      • Michael Shea

        Those are more in line with my understanding than a one year suspension and $5000 fine. This is too serious an infraction for a one year suspension.

        • longshot

          I think that is the max the stewards can give. The commission and the track can be more severe

          • Michael Shea

            If that is the case, then the commission and track must step in as you said.

          • Minneola

            And, if the track and the commissioner do not, what would that say about that track?

  • Michael Shea

    I did some research and it seems my memory is still okay. Jockey, Geary Louviere was caught using a buzzer at a Chicago track years ago and was banned for life. If I’m wrong about that, my apologies to Mr. Louviere but that’s what I recalled and a couple of archived articles on the Internet supported it. I remember it being very disappointing because I had been impressed by the Louviere brothers as riders.

    • Minneola

      Hence, the reason that the sport needs a centralized governing board.

      • Or at least a central licensing agency for owners trainers and jockeys

        • Michael Shea

          With a consistent set of rules and regulations which carry the same penalties across the country.

          • Absolutely, save me from doing all those redundant forms if nothing else.

          • TwoBays

            How about the FBI just enforce the current RICO laws, since cheating the public across state lines falls under their jurisdiction?

    • tony romo

      it fell right out of his tack after the weigh out. Caught vidvidly seen and whisked off by the illionos state police

  • Patricia King

    Since he was in possession of the device I do hope that he is referred to the commission for additional actions. Hard to be lenient when this type of action hurts the sport. I would also be monitoring the trainer/owner of this horse as well.

    • Michael Shea

      You can not run a story like this and then later report a one year suspension and $5000 fine. How will the public ever have trust in our sport?

      • Minneola

        Many, if not most, of the public already does not trust this sport. These kinds of incidents, with the too frequent slap on the wrist, just reinforces the perception that the sport is dirty. This jockey and any other caught with such a device should be banned throughout the country and for life. Nothing less than that. It’s not as if they had a momentary lapse in judgment. This jockey was very well aware of what he was doing. Perhaps, we should put jockeys like him into our Virtual Stable so that we can follow them from one track to another — and, then, ask these tracks just what kind of ethics they have to allow a crooked jockey to continue riding. I remember that when Lance Armstrong was caught cheating, he was stripped of his Tour de France titles. Now, that’s the way it needs to be done.

  • Michael Shea

    I have the utmost respect for jockeys. They are among the elite athletes, face danger with every ride and I’m convinced are overwhelmingly honest. That being said; this is a perfect example of why there must be a national body, not governmental, overseeing horse racing. This type of infraction should mean a lifetime ban from all North American tracks. There would be an appeals process, but a guilty finding should mean a separation from the sport for life.

    • Minneola

      Nice to see your post. It reinforces that I am not alone in this thinking. Just imagine how many honest jockeys have to face danger and, yet, they lose races to these kinds of jerks who cheat to that extent!

      • ben

        Lifetime ban is the only solution. He has been cheating the public, the bettors and all others involved.

    • SteveTG

      Yes, the sport needs an overseer. It has failed miserably as multiple self-policing jurisdictions. If the current powers-that-be cannot even eradicate machines, what hope is there that they can somehow solve the more complex problems we face?

      • Bein

        So a huge overseer is going to be the magic that individual jurisdictions have not been? Why? What would be special about those human beings?

    • HappyHarriet

      Unbelievable “solution”!

      Racing Commissions, Stewards, Rules, Regulations and “enforcement”, all well meant and loaded with people who consider themselves “helping”, and yet these things happen, as they do in life. Another layer, this one “national”, is going to change NOTHING, and it surely isn’t going to keep someone from wiring an electrical device and using it.

      There are rules, penalties and punishments in place, and when someone is caught, they are called on the carpet. Another layer of bureucracy is going to be just another racing nightmare.

      I’m contually amazed at how people think MORE bodies, forums, groups piled on top of the the already existing bodies, forums groups would be helpful to much of anything.

      • Larry sterne

        not another layer but will,replace the current governing bodies who have proven to be inept

      • Michael Shea

        You clearly didn’t even read my post. One commission. One set of rules and regulations. One standard for penalties. Not another layer. Nothing keeps someone from using a buzzer; the proper penalty in place keeps him from using it twice.

        • Bein

          One size fits all? Why? There is no racing jurisdiction that allows machines as it is.

          • Michael Shea

            But each apparently has a different possible penalty. Consistency adds to the public trust. The obvious part of a jockey using a buzzer is that he cheated; the not so obvious is that the public walks away thinking every jockey cheats in every race. That has to be repaired. This would be one step in the right direction.

      • Bein

        So, so, so true. Thank you.

    • Joseph Schneider

      As a jockey who he never even had one in his hands I don’t think that a lifetime ban for almost any infraction is the answer for anyone in any spot in life for a first offense now after a first offense then lengthy bans should be looked at

      • Michael Shea

        Joseph, I appreciate your unique perspective regarding this incident. I think the real issue here is the public trust. If horse racing has the public trust, it must keep it. If it has lost the public trust, it must regain it. Jockeys using buzzers, trainers using juice and owners using dirty tactics destroys the public trust.

  • Mike Magnus

    he should never ride again and he should get a cow prod to him hope he enjoys how it feels animal cruelity should be charged to him

    • greg

      while I agree with a lifetime suspension, which in horse race lingo equals 1 year if they threaten to go to court, however believe me when I tell you it’s not “painful” it just really startles them and thus the burst of speed. If it were painful a horse would jump AWAY from the pain and thus go directly left or right and not straight

      • Larry sterne

        the same buzz that is used on a electric dog collar when properly set

      • Michael Castellano

        But with a thoroughbred an unpredictable or no response is always possible. It’s why you KNOW the trainer is aware it is going to be used, and has pre-tested the horse at least a couple of times for its response.

      • Condor

        If you used it on a horse stood still it would shy sideways , its only because its going flat out that it keeps going forward after being shocked. I agree its no more harmful than leaning on the electric fence out at pasture but it has no place on the race track . A horse will stop giving that bit extra after so many zaps and what will they do to the poor stale, track sour, pityfull animal then?! Ban a jockey for life and set an example please.

        • Vince G

          You guys are so full of it. Dont you think its More serious when a Trainer uses certain Drugs in a horse to make it run faster or to Not run? Why not Banned them for Life. How many Top trainers had gotten caught Drugs
          Ing horses and mearly got a 30 days suspension. This kid made a Mistake snd gere you all go saying banned him for life. Like all of you are saints and never made a mistake in your lives.. You all need to cut the Crap. In almost every business in the world has some form of cheating. From the bartender down to the Pharmacy. Once there is money involved. Some kind of cheating is gonna be in it. PERIOD! so why end a kids Career because he made a Mistake.? Check yourselves. Some of you are doing worse.

          • Big G

            dear vince , here in lies the problem , yes we all make mistake’s but i’m more than sure , just as God made little green apples this rider has used that buzzer numerous times,,, but this time he got caught ,, a very stiff fine and 30 days off for first infraction should do,, and if he gets caught again a 1 year ban with a 25k fine , third time 3 year ban 50k fine ,, and if this jockey is that stupid to ruin his livelihood than he deserve’s to be banned from racing period.

      • Bein

        It is no where near as painful as the whip, but it’s a rule and not following it disadvantages people who follow the rules.

  • Chris

    I was on the rail at the Arkansas Derby in 1999 when Billy Patin shocked Valhol to a win, before the horse was DQd and he was suspended for 5 years.

    • Keith

      Yes and the electric horseman dallas keen received no discipline for that. At least to this day though Oaklawn refuses to give the electric horseman stalls so they haven’t forgotten so at least they imposed their own ban. I applaud Oaklawn for that.

      • TwoBays

        yet his wife runs a “rescue”

        • Keith

          Oh yes a “non-profit 501 (c) (3)” that has garnered many donations and even a barn donated for free to it that wind up also being used to house horses being bred, foaled, trained, etc., as part of a for profit breeding and training operation.

          • TwoBays

            Yes, they stand stallions there, too !!

    • Neigh Sayer

      I bet him to win and have never before or since seen a horse DQ’d in the race for that.

  • Richard Calais

    Yeah get caught with a machine could get a lifetime ban but shoot them up with all kind of stuff and 6 months and we’ll just run under someone else’s name

    • Michael Shea

      But no one is saying there should be different standards. A trainer caught doping a horse should face severe penalties. An owner should be fined a substantial amount. When it hurts enough, it will stop. And if it doesn’t stop, then a repeat offender is banned for life. I know Rick Dutrow hasn’t doped a horse recently. And he won’t for the rest of his life.

    • NELL.RAY

      There you go…..I guess ridding with a shocker is worst than killing 7 horses. Nobody here said that a certain trainer should be casted aside for his actions. Hmmmm

      • Michael Shea

        Three hours before you posted, I said there should be one standard. It would apply to jockeys, trainers and owners. When there is room for doubt, judge accordingly and sentence accordingly. A jockey caught with a buzzer is pretty straightforward. I’m a fan of Bob Baffert, but if he is ever found guilty of an infraction equal to this, I would support a lifetime ban.

        • NELL.RAY

          Ummm. He gave those horses the supplements that actually led to their deaths. is he not guilty? I don’t wish to argue this already known issue. I just find it odd how the entire racing Community seems to have forgiven this man but on the other hand they talk about saving the horse and protecting the horse.

          • Michael Shea

            If there is anything that can be done regarding an infraction from past years, then by all means, let’s get it done. There is no room in horse racing for anything illegal, unethical or injurious to horse, rider or the public trust. If the racing board can present the case against Bob Baffert or anyone else, prove him guilty and a lifetime ban is in order, then it should be applied.

          • TwoBays

            Why did they ban the use of thyroid meds after exonerating him for using them?

          • Michael Shea

            I don’t know. Perhaps in light of what happened, that was the time they decided that thyroid meds needed to be banned. They couldn’t apply charges retroactively. If the meds were not banned at the time he used them, then he did nothing wrong according to the rules and regulations. I’m not familiar enough with the case or the rules and regulations to have an educated opinion. Plus I’m not Mr. Baffert’s representative.

          • TwoBays

            In my mind, he admitted to using the thyroxine as a PED because he said he used it to “build them up”, and it is a medicine, not a supplement. But I also know, as does the CHRB, after the poppy seed case, that Baffert would use an army of attorneys against them – unfortunately in most aspects of our world, affording attorneys enables one to get away with a lot.

          • NELL.RAY

            And how do you plan on Prosecuting this or implementing this lifetime ban?let’s not play games here. an American governing body does not exist. And do you really believe California would get rid of it’s white hair Wonder? He has the largest stable on the circuit and he has TVG wrapped around his pinky. Some people love him. But when I see him I see a killer. don’t mean to make it sound so personal I’m being honest.

          • Michael Shea

            In another post, I ask the question of the Paulick Report; how do we do this? I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but I certainly can see all the questions. In relation to Bob Baffert, I’m not sure why you use every cute name rather than naming him directly, but my hope for horse racing would mean one standard, all equal under the law.

          • NELL.RAY

            The man is a MASS MURDER. I REFUSE TO GIVE MURDERERS RECOGNITION. Everyone here knows im not the biggest advocate for American racing and this is why. The open hypocrisy that is on display. The same people here that are ordering the destruction of this jockeys career were probably yelling crying and singing the praises of American Pherohs trainer after the horse crossed the line at Belmont. You can’t have it both ways people. Cheating is cheating.

          • TwoBays

            I agree – the racing community just wants one to “move on” about that heinous issue, in which the perpetrator was never prosecuted for anything. After seven deaths? Rat Poison? Thyroxine? Racing will die a slow death until ( if ever ) it figures out that the nefarious members of the industry have to go.

          • Michael Castellano

            I have not forgiven him. It’s one of the worst offenses ever because after the first or second horse died, he would have had to have known the reason but did nothing until he had no choice after the 7th died but to stop after it all became public knowledge. Racing today doesn’t have the guts or morals to take him down. Everything a horse does that he trains is suspect. Nor is he without company in the training business. There are those that accept such conduct as part of the job description, and some could even likely pass the bar for Veterinarians.

          • NELL.RAY

            Mike that’s the issue I have. Ok maybe after one death you start to question what you did wrong. But when 2 and then 7 horses die you walk around as if you did nothing wrong that’s a whole nother level of arrogance that’s the level of I’m right and everybody else is wrong.

      • TwoBays

        don’t mention that on another site – it will get you banned

        • NELL.RAY

          I know. The sad thing about it is if you train a Triple Crown winner all’s forgiven. If people say that they love the horses so much why is it that the characters take preference over the horse?

  • Taveuni Waka

    Absolutely shocking!

  • mike

    sad. the horse most likely would have won without the “extra” help.

  • Condor

    Life ban if racing wants public support.

  • Richard C

    Let me take a guess — a friend’s car wouldn’t start…..and the thing was going to jolt the battery.

  • Charles Smith

    Here’s a message for the naive among us-this happens all over north america, to one degree or another. Might be more prevalent in Louisiana, Florida and Illinois than most states, but it’s everywhere.

    • Cardaddy

      Charles, you would be suprised how many Cali riders are using them, many, very many

      • Charles Smith

        I own horses that are stabled in No Cal, I like to think I’m dialed in on what’s happening around here and I can say you’re not exaggerating. At GGF, there are riders who pack buzzers like it’s no big thing. A friend who is a long time jockey’s agent here once told me that in Northern California, you could compare the percentage of riders that use machines to the world nuclear arms race that we have seen. Jockeys feel they have to have a machine just because so many of the other guys do. When you see a horse rocket away under a hands and heels ride……………

        • Bein

          They’re everywhere only because stewards look the other way.

  • Pamela Borah

    Hang him up and buzzer his balls!!! Sounds fair to me ….. Jerk.

    • Olebobbowers

      But, the guys that use the same shower say he’s a gelding. ~

  • kuzdal

    Maybe this was the first time the jock “experimented” with a buzzer. Maybe he’d heard what they do…but he wanted to understand the difference for himself. Here’s my thought, if you’re guilty:

    You shouldn’t be allowed on the grounds of any track. Ever.

    You should be able to plead your case (to anyone who’ll listen). Outside the gates.

    You should offer the cautionary tale for anyone who wants to try this.

    This game has enough problems. damn….

  • Stuart H

    A certain big name jockey was caught on camera with one years back and it was swept under the rug…although he denied it. It was a “don’t believe your lying eyes” moment.

    I always have to laugh when I complain when a jockey gives a knowingly bad ride or stiffs a mount and the reaction is usually the same: “why would he cheat?”

    Well there are penalties in Europe for failing to give a horse their best ride to win. To knowingly take a speed horse off of the lead and towards mid pack will land you with a fine and possible suspension overseas. You can’t whip all over a horse there either. Here, nothing. So is it really all that surprising these jockeys think they can get away with something like this (if in fact he is guilty)? In this case they are alleging that instead of stiffing the horse the jockey is doing whatever he can to get the horse over the line first with natural and artificial aid, like performance enhancing devices.

    I am all for giving a jockey the discretion to decide how to ride a horse, but you can’t take a horse’s best asset away from him (speed), and you cannot use devices like this to shock or artificially stun them into performing better either. It is horse racing, not jockey racing. It is about letting the best horse win. You do that by giving the horse his head and hope that he settles. Buzzing, shocking, choking, wrestling…not good and wastes energy and many times creates an 1100 pound head case.

    The silliest thing in this case, and the saddest, is this horse was 7-10 and likely would have won without any artificial aid or kick in the pants.

    • Curt Muth

      “A certain big name jockey was caught on camera with one years back and it was swept under the rug…although he denied it.”

      If your referring to the JS, FC case The Miami Herald published a “correction & clarification” after being served with a statutory demand for retraction.   The Herald agreed that Santos had not admitted to holding the object and apologized for the error.

    • Bein

      There are penalties in the USA for failing to ride a horse to win as well. As for, the horse was 7/10 and was going to win anyway? Why would you think the rider was using a machine on him for the first time?

      The real problem with machines is that it ruins horses. They soon won’t run without it, and at some point just refuse to try anymore at all.

  • forestwildcat

    Shocking!!

  • Honniest

    Gary Stevens is the King of Zaps

    • Stephen States

      …And your proof that supports such a libelous allegation?

      • Mr. James

        There is a hidden camera video on youtube where Gary Stevens talks about accidentally shocking himself during a race and dropping the buzzer on the track. He said there were some tracks where every jockey in the field used buzzers. I think this stuff happened early in his career. Hopefully it is not that bad today.

  • Michael Shea

    I know that I have posted almost every comment here, but this is really disturbing. This article makes it clear that the jockey was found to be in possession of a buzzer. That to me is enough to warrant a lifetime ban. If anyone knows of another jockey or trainer or owner or veterinarian guilty of an infraction equal to this, then something must be done to punish the guilty party. We can’t expect horse racing to be taken seriously by the public and media if all we do is make cynical remarks. I’m putting this question to the Paulick Report; how do we create a horse racing commissioner to oversee thoroughbred racing? I believe someone with a reputation above reproach has to be the one. So who is it? And how do we do it? There must be someone who feels about racing the way Bart Giamatti felt about baseball.

  • Dave Lamello

    Is his agent still Jose Santos, Jr.? Seems like buzzer allegations run in that family.

  • McGov

    My first thought when I hear about any person hurting an animal is I WISH THE ANIMAL COULD DO THE SAME THING IN RETURN.
    Shocking horses should result in lifetime ban. MINIMUM. Son of a…

    • TwoBays

      wouldn’t that be wonderful? When I am Queen ….

  • William McAlevy

    Roman Chapa court case is still ongoing a year later a lot of cheaters in this game just like the horses that run and win at 100-1 and oh it’s the wrong horse. Anything with money involved there’s always people that are out there that are willing to go the extra link to cheat out the honest people that how many are really honest?? I thought arrogate could have got third but Mike Smith said no let me pull up the horse and 2.5 million dollars lost. I guarantee it any track if they paid a jockey tenngrand to the horse they will

  • Robert Kazlauski

    I am not on Twitter but a quick check of Mr. Osorio’s last tweet is extremely interesting. Dated
    Aug. 6, it is a retweet of a Lamar Jackson tweet which says..”hands dirty watch me turn em clean”. Also of note is the accompanying picture which shows Mr. Jackson holding a football in his right hand and it’s gleaming with light (as in a shock perhaps?). Check it out.

  • Bob Hope

    interestingly there is no mention if the number came down! and such a fuss about whips

  • Gls

    Here is what I don’t understand, does this go on without the trainer knowing it? Having been around thoroughbreds my whole life I can’t imagine someone galloping along and just reaching down and shock them on the neck. With out some kind of test. I don’t know ?

    • In a race would not be the first time for the buzzer

  • Raj

    I played that race, and thought it was odd that such a average and low win percentage horse was such a short price all of sudden, is there going to be any further investigation on the bets made

  • Larry sterne

    hope they look into trainer and jockey collusion can’t help to think there was a c wink and nod.

  • TimTamTed

    I agree with all who call for a lifetime ban on jocks who use these buzzers.There’s no room for it in a sport that is trying its best just to tread water,in some states.It also makes all other jocks look suspicious,and that is just plain wrong.Not to mention,the shock effect to some horses,may trigger a fatal heart attack.

  • longshot

    Yeah, this guy will hire a lawyer, he’ll tie it up in court, meanwhile he’ll go on riding on a court injunction. When the case finally go’s to trial his lawyer will find something wrong with the way the investigation went, and it will get thrown out and he’ll be riding the next day. It happened in Iowa.

  • Michael Castellano

    I’m not a law and order type, but in this case, I think a severe ban, either something like ten years or a life time one, are in order for this offense and would probably end the practice. Not only is it cheating, but it is dangerous if, for example, one is used to quickly get through a tight rail space, and the horse fails to respond or responds unpredictably. Same for the trainer if it can be proved he knew, I’d give the jockey a chance to get a shorter suspension if he gives up the trainer. I doubt if most cheats with these devices use them without trainer knowledge or approval.

  • Nick Nicholson

    The thing that is not understood by the general public, is how this works on a race horse. These are very small buzzers that when touch by a human, just gives them a little shock. But when a horse with aluminum shoes on is touched, it scares the heck out of most of them.
    Bottom line, there is no room in racing for this. Lifetime ban is warranted.
    Back to the Panama Hippodrome Mr Osorio.

  • Bein

    A life sentence for this? I think a year suspension is plenty to get the point across.

    • ridingtowin

      They have been for many years handing out suspensions longer than one year for same offense, and it has yet to “get the point across”

  • Big G

    Rayovac vs Durocell I can just see the Advertisers lining up now , for the breeders cup the Rayovac sprint and the Durocell Mile,,, or why dont the jockeys just advertise the battery maker on their pants ,, like they do everything Else

  • Real rider

    A machine looks like a Bic cigarette lighter. Most crooked riders drop them in the gallop out after the wire.
    No wonder he was leading rider.
    Foolish

  • Ocalaresident

    Should be lifetime ban or at least 10 years and $25,000 in fines. He cheated the public out of lot’s of $$. He has done nothing but help ruin a good sport. How do all you other horsemen/women feel about him causing loss of betting people which in turn takes from YOUR pockets.

  • ridingtowin

    Some riders just carry a somewhat dull nail which they scratch across the neck while making a buzzing sound with their voice. The nail will leave scratch marks, but not sharp enough to cut the skin. The horse gets the real deal in the mornings during training hours, so in the afternoon, they may respond to the nail. The nail is also easier to stash and drop.

  • tony romoo

    Osorio says he owes it all to R.Santana, his best friend. Well its seems to me when Osorio pulled a triple at ellis park, Santana pulled it off at Saratoga!! hum? Santana comming up short these days near the wire at Saratoga. Lets see if Santana can even pull off a double??? We are all watching!!!!

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