Owner/trainer Mario Rafael Rodriguez has had his licenses revoked by the Pennsylvania State Horse Racing Commission. According to a ruling dated Dec. 19, “action is being taken based upon the emergency situation relating to the ongoing health and safety of numerous injured and/or neglected horses to include You R Wonderful, Kisses For Love, and Silent Ruler.
“Based upon the Commission's ongoing investigation, including, but not limited to witness statements, veterinarian statements, necropsy reports and other probative evidence relating to the death of the horses Lee's South and Platinum Sensation.
“Mario Rodriguez allowed horses under his care to be subjected to mistreatment, neglect, and/or abuse. At all applicable times, Mario Rodriguez failed to provide adequate and appropriate veterinary care necessitating emergency surgical intervention and care for the horses Silent Ruler and You R Wonderful. Based upon the above investigation and documentation, the Bureau Director finds that Mario Rodriguez' experience and general fitness as a trainer/owner presents a clear and ongoing danger to the remaining number of horses under his control and his qualifications as a trainer are inconsistent with the best interests of racing.”
According to the ruling, Rodriguez was given access to the stable area only until Dec. 22 to transfer or remove remaining horses or property there.
Rodriguez was given until Dec. 29 to appeal the ruling revoking his license.
A separate ruling also issued on Dec. 19 walked back the commission's one-year suspension of Rodriguez's license, which came after a board of stewards initially suspended him 45 days for “failure to provide proper veterinarian care.” Rodriguez appealed the 45-day suspension, but did so after the deadline, making that 45-day suspension final.
Rodriguez owned and trained Silent Ruler, who was discovered in late September in his stall at Penn National in distress with a broken sesamoid. In mid-December, You R Wonderful was removed from Rodriguez's care after a commission investigation revealed he had injuries which may not have been receiving appropriate medical attention.
Lee's South, owned and trained by Rodriguez, last raced Nov. 2, when the 9-year-old gelding finished seventh in a claiming field of eight.
Platinum Sensation, a 4-year-old filly trained by Rodriguez for Gilberto Rivera, did not finish her most recent start at Penn National on Nov. 15 after clipping heels and losing her jockey soon after the start.
Kisses For Love was trained by Rodriguez for Milton D. Rodriguez Jr. and last raced Dec. 13, when she was eased in the stretch of the fifth race, also a claiming contest.
During the public comment period of a commission meeting held Dec. 20, veterinarian and outspoken equine welfare advocate Dr. Bryan Langlois questioned the commission's actions in the Rodriguez. Specifically, Langlois wanted to know why Bureau Director of Thoroughbred Racing Tom Chuckas initially told the Paulick Report the commission would take no further action after the stewards' ruling, and days later, extended the Rodriguez suspension to one year.
“I have had to learn as a commissioner that unfortunately, we have to follow process,” answered commissioner Salvatore DeBunda, who stated emphatically that the commission's extension of the suspension was not a reaction to public pressure, but a matter of following legal due process.
“I would ask you to please do us a favor – to go through our staff. Your name appears all over the articles, and that passion is nice, but it doesn't reflect well on us. I would ask that you go through the process here, rather than making comments here and also making comments somewhere else. It does not sit well with me personally. I think we have a process and we have people who care.”
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