Laurel Not Accepting Entries From Navarro Over New Jersey Controversy

by | 09.13.2017 | 6:17pm
El Deal dominated in the the Vanderbilt at Saratoga for trainer Jorge Navarro

Sal Sinatra, president and general manager of the Maryland Jockey Club, said the racing office at Laurel Park would not accept the entries of horses trained by Jorge Navarro because of fallout from the controversial cellphone video of Navarro and one of his owners, Randal Gindi, taken last month at Monmouth Park and posted on YouTube. In the video, Gindi and Navarro were celebrating a Gulfstream Park win by the trainer's brother, Marcial Navarro, with Gindi making references to “the juice man” and saying “I line my pockets with the bookie with another twenty thousand.” Navarro commented on the video, “That's the way we do it. We f – – k everyone.”

Navarro and Gindi were each fined the maximum $5,000 by stewards for “conduct detrimental to racing” with the recommendation that the fines be increased to $10,000 and $20,000, respectively, by the New Jersey Racing Commission, which intends to take up the matter at its next meeting Sept. 20.

Navarro has been leading trainer at Monmouth Park five consecutive years, most recently breaking his own record by saddling 65 winners from 158 starts during the 2017 meet. Gindi was the New Jersey track's third leading owner by wins in 2017, with 10 from 19 starts.

Navarro denied using illegal drugs in horses and said neither he nor Gindi bet with bookmakers.

Sinatra said it was the decision of The Stronach Group, owner of Laurel Park, not to accept any entries from Navarro, including Grade 1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap winner El Deal. The 5-year-old son of Munnings owned by Albert and Michelle Crawford was expected to run in Saturday's $250,000 Frank J. De Francis Dash, but after learning the entry would be rejected, Navarro opted not to enter. “Why should I enter?” Navarro told Daily Racing Form.

A second horse from the Navarro barn, John J. Reilly Handicap winner Chublicious, was transferred to trainer Claudio Gonzalez, who has other horses for the owner, David Gruskos. Gonzalez trained Chublicious previously and Sinatra said the entry was accepted after officials were convinced the horse would stay with Gonzalez after the De Francis Dash.

“It's because of the whole situation in New Jersey,” Sinatra said of the decision not to accept entries from Navarro. “It's too chaotic right now. Our commission reached out to Frank Zanzuccki (executive director of the New Jersey Racing Commission) to get more information, and we didn't feel comfortable taking the entry until that is cleared up. It's too cloudy right now. We're just trying to do the best we can for racing. ”

Navarro is licensed in Maryland, having run one horse in July, Sinatra said. On Wednesday, Duchess of Duke, a horse entered for Loooch Racing Stable at Indiana Grand racetrack was scratched from the $100,000 Merrillville Stakes after stewards there told the trainer they would not issue him a trainer's license until the New Jersey matter is fully resolved.

CORRECTION: The original version of this article incorrectly stated that Laurel Park rejected the entries of El Deal and Chublicious from Jorge Navarro The decision not to permit Navarro's horses to run at Laurel Park was made by management prior to entries being taken for the De Francis Dash.

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